[Railway reconstruction Italy 1943-1946 published by Royal Engineers, 1946]

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Chapter II

Section III.
Railway Construction considered in relation to the ultimate Railway system

1. - Base Development.

Main base areas were developed as the campaign progressed in and around all the major ports. Short term advanced base areas were set up at Rome and to a very much lesser degree at Bologna.

The first base areas to be set up were at the ports of Brindisi, Bari and Naples. As is explained in Chapter 1 the staff control of areas on the East Coast and on the West Coast was at the beginning of the campaign separate, and to a considerable degree independent of control from higher formation. The result of this was that these areas tended to initiate their base development on a short term parochial outlook. With the formation of A.F.H.Q. Advanced Administrative Echelon rulings on depot policy passed from the local administration. If thus happened that base development in these areas was not built to any preconceived plan but rather underwent a gradual process of expansion. Eventually facilities were provided in each of these three areas for R.E. Stores, R.A.S.C. Supplies, Tn. Stores and the Air Forces, and improvements were carried out to track layouts in the dock areas to facilitate dock clearance. Facilities were also provided at Brindisi and Naples for Ammunition. R.E.M.E. and Salvage facilities were provided in Naples and Bari. In addition to which, at Bari, rail service was provided for Medical and U.S. Quartermaster installations and at Naples rail service was provided to Ordnance depots. The layout of these depot areas and of the individual depots is shown diagrammatically in Plate 1 for Brindisi, Plate 2 for Bari and Plate 3 for Naples.

Sometime before the capture of Rome, A.F.H.Q. Advanced Administrative Echelon, or H.Q., Allied Armies in Italy (A.A.I.) as it was called, issued a directive on the development of the area around the city as an advanced base area. This was the first attempt made to prepare a considered plan for base development in Italy. It was, however, a very broad plan and Tn. were not consulted in its formation. It was mainly drawn up to cover the contingency that the enemy might make a fir, stand in the hills North of Rome. In actual fact no such stand was made and our armies made steady progress up to the ports of Ancona and Leghorn. The development of the area was carried out as planned, but the importance of the depots constructed faded very rapidly. Rail facilities were provided in the Rome area for Engineer Stores, Ammunition, Ordnance and Tn. Layouts are shown diagrammatically in Plate 4.

The advance planning of base areas was carried a stage further in the case of Ancona. The Staff drew up a schedule of their general requirements and passed it to Tn. for recommendations and detailing. It is interesting to note that the plan proposed by Tn. as a result of this request, and before the capture of the area, was accepted and on ground inspection of the site was found to be praticable and was carried out exactly. Rail facilities were provided in the area for R.A.S.C. supplies, R.A.S.C. P.O.L., Air Force, Ordnance, Ammunition, R.E. Stores and Tn. Stores, and additional facilities were provided in the docks area to increase the capacity of the port. The location of the various depots in the area and the layout of the rail connections is shown at Plate 5.

The port of Leghorn was reserved almost exclusively for the maintenance of the American section of 5th Army. In accordance with normal American practice therefore no demands were made on M.R.S. for construction of rail service to depots except as regards the supply of Stores. The only depot constructed was a Tn. Stores Depot which was set up partly in order to enable advantage to be taken of sea lifts from Naples for heavy Tn. Stores, and partly to feed stores to M.R.S. troops working in that area.

Encouraged by the success of the Tn. plan for development of the Ancona area, A.A.I. requested that a similar plan be prepared for an advanced base area at Bologna. At this time it was hoped that the enemy would be pushed back to the River Po during the Autumn of 1944 and it was thought that a static line might develop on the line of this river during the Winter of 1944/5. As it later transpired, this forecast was wrong, and as the whole of Italy fell into our hands a few days after it was eventually captured, the Tn. plan was never put into operation. The only rail served depot to be constructed in the Bologna area was a Tn. Stores Depot which was set up mainly with the object of feeding railway construction troops.

By the time that Genoa was reached, the whole of Italy was in our hands and the need for a base in this area did not arise. A certain amount of work on the restoration of rail facilities in the dock area was carried out, and this sufficed to enable the port to meet all demands.

Plans for the use of ports in the North Adriatic had for some time before the capitulation been mainly centred in the port of Trieste. Political developments subsequent to the capitulation made it undesirable that British or American forces should place too much reliance on this port and attention was immediately turned to Venice. It was found possible by adaption and repair of existing rail facilities at redundant industrial installations to meet all requirements at Mestre (Industrial town and port on the mainland opposite Venice). Rail facilities were provided for R.A.S.C. Supplies, R.A.S.C. P.O.L., Salvage and Tn. Stores. As the amount of work done was small and only involved the adaption of existing facilities, no sketch of this area are appended.

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[Railway reconstruction Italy 1943-1946 published by Royal Engineers, 1946]

Alessandro Tuzza