WW I 2 Ft. Narrow Gauge Line in France

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WW I 2 Ft. Narrow Gauge Line in France

  • Found this interesting b/w footage about the construction and operation of a 2 ft. narrow gauge line in France during WW I

    Enjoy!

    Cheers!

    Ulrich

    People in Hamburg don´t tan, they rust!

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  • A battle front so static, you could build a rail system to supply it. What a dismal end of track.

  • Victrola1

    A battle front so static, you could build a rail system to supply it. What a dismal end of track.

    You miss a couple of points about the system of field railways (both France and Germany had a well-developed plan for using these).

    First is that it's relatively easy to build new track where you need it (including after a putative 'breakthrough' of the trench line).  Notice in the first scenes how the 'ties' are round and there is little formal ballasting.  The French, I believe, had whole sections of track that were laid down ahead of an advancing train and then picked up after it had passed for 're-use'

    Remember this is in the era of hard-rubber-tired trucks that wouldn't last a moment before bogging down, and that would require carefully decked bridges.  And limited capacity per truck and driver -- this was in an era when truck-driving was something of a special skill.

    Look at the film toward the end and you see one major 'advantage' in trench warfare.  You may recall from your WW1 battle history that the idea of a breakthrough involved mass assaults by troops as well as artillery, etc.  There is probably no better way to move 'rested' troops, with all their gear and weapons, between points 'behind the lines' than the sort of train you see, with convenient 'poles' to hang onto as the only superstructure.  No particular warning to the enemy, even with contemporary air spotting, where the train is going to stop, either.

    In other words, capable and flexible.  NOT particularly dismal or retarded-development.

  • There is an excellant French film someone posted on the Wiscasset,Waterville and Farmington museum web sight which has some great segmants on track construction and some fo those nifty back-to-back 0-4-4-0 locos.  I am pretty computer ignorant, so I don't know how to get stuff from there to here. My apologies.

  • The United States was deeply involved in the 600mm gauge trench railway system, both as a major supplier of locomotives to the Allies and as active participants when we entered the war.

    That sectional track might have been inspired by Lionel - dished metal ties with rails bolted on.  It was semi-permanent in that it could be lifted and re-laid elsewhere.

    The standard US Army trench engine was a 2-6-2T.  Some survived into WWII on a few Eastern army posts.  Others ended up as surplus.  At least one logging outfit used them (Lost River Ry.)  There were also IC engined 'critters' for use where the smoke plume would target a steamer for enemy artillery.

    See Narrow Gauge to No Man's Land, by Richard Dunn, for all the details (including track configurations near the front and rolling stock plans.)

    Chuck

  • Sir Madog

    Found this interesting b/w footage about the construction and operation of a 2 ft. narrow gauge line in France during WW I

    Enjoy!

    Sir Madog (Ulrich):

      The following link is to a Forum Thread that was opened in November of 2011: 

    "Military Railways from the WWI Era (France)"

       http://cs.trains.com/trn/f/740/t/199499.aspx

    It went out to some three pages, with a number of external links for a pretty interesting discussion of the WWI Trench Railways. Many of the locomotives were supplied in kit form by Baldwin Locomotive Works and assembled in the ETO by the Troops.

    Hope you'll enjoy it!

    Sam

     

     


     

  • The Germans also built a large network of light railways on the other side of the trenches, transporting men and supplies to what was descriptively named the "blood pump".

    My grandfather (born in 1897) served as a young lieutenant in the Royal Prussian Army Corps of Railway Engineers near Sedan. He told me many a story of those dreadful days in my boyhood days. I just wonder how anyone could have survived this senseless ordeal.

    Cheers!

    Ulrich

    People in Hamburg don´t tan, they rust!

  • Sir Madog
    The Germans also built a large network of light railways on the other side of the trenches,

    Google 'Feldbahn' for more.

    This kind of military service, if I recall correctly, was the raison d'etre (don't know the proper idiomatic German equivalent -- sorry) for the Klien-Lindner axle development.  (Read about it in Wiener -- fascinating how flexible those things could be...)

  • To the best of my knowledge, there is one remaining 2-6-2T on display at Ft. Bennings in Georgia. It's the last of a group used at that base through the end of WW2. Overseas the survival rate is apparently much higher, with examples from both sides surviving, some still servicable. There is a museum in France which actually operates a small remnant of the trench railways. Their website lists locos from both sides, including an operable Alco 2-6-2T, a Decauville 0-6-0T and a couple of German Brigadelok 0-8-0Ts.Looks like a neat place to visit. In England the Leighton Buzzard Railway operates a Baldwin built 4-6-0T from the first world war. I've read Wiener's section on the Klein-Linder axle system. Looks like scads of wear points, but they survived in service on the european equivalent of shortlines and industrials until very recently.

  • I can't say too much more than I did the last time we discussed World War One trench railroads, but let me add this.  Don't get the wrong impression those 60 centimeter lines were "curbside service"  to the trenches.  Those doughboys you saw changing trains had quite a bit of walking to do before they got up to the fighting.

    Ulrich, in my years of studying the war I never heard of the German soldiers calling the Western Front the "Blood Pump."   See, today I learned something!

     

  • rfpjohn

    In England the Leighton Buzzard Railway operates a Baldwin built 4-6-0T from the first world war.

    Take a look at this video:

    Cheers!

    Ulrich

    People in Hamburg don´t tan, they rust!

  • SIR MADOG: Yes, that's the one! Thank you, much. I think it was rescued from a sugar factory railway in India. Really cool little kettle. Love to take a shot at running her!