The Actual Diary Entries
|Getting Down To Work|
|Sunday, 29 September 2013 22:31|
On 1 January 1943, the 3d Military Railway Service began to operate trains out of Khorramshahr. On the seventh, port operation of Khorramshahr by Americans began. By 18 January, the 3d Military Railway Service was running all trains from Khorramshahr and Bandar Shahpur to Dorud; and in mid-February American units assumed interim operation of the port of Bandar Shahpur, with continuing British help. On 1 April 1943 both ports and railroad commenced all-American operation, and on 1 May 1943 began effective American control of movements in the British zone.
The Americans were active in many ways during those early months of 1943. Locomotives were assigned to districts according to power requirements; American and Iranian personnel made studies of track constructions, sidings, tunnels, and bridges, and improved trackage at Ahwaz and Khorramshahr to expedite car handling. Distribution of air-brake equipment and hand brakes in trains was standardized. As fast as they arrived, the new diesels were erected. The first diesel-hauled train moved from Ahwaz to Andimeshk in March. In another month all freight trains and mixed trains from ports to Andimeshk were powered by these 126-ton, 1,000 horsepower engines.
It is easy to understand why diesel locomotives were assembled in Iran as rapidly as they arrived. After two years of services, the diesels used only twenty gallons of water per trip from the Gulf to Tehran. They did not have to draw upon the various water stations along the line. Moreover, their slight exhaust created none of the distress suffered by the men on the steam trains in the long unventilated tunnels. By 1 July 1943, fifty-seven of these diesels had been erected and put into service. The coming of the diesels dramatized the face lifting of the line and the augmented numbers of locomotives contrasted with the 100 steam engines, mostly unserviceable, which the British took over in 1941.
One very important aspect of MRS operations was the business of the 762d and 754th Shop Battalions. Responsible for the repair of a great variety of locomotives and cars of British, German and American origin and, at the same time, faced in early 1943 with a critical shortage of locomotive and car parts, the shop battalions did a remarkable job.
One of the first tasks of the 762d Battalion was the erection of diesel and rail cars as they arrived in Persian Gulf ports. Tools to be used for this purpose had to be devised from the scant material at hand and methods had to be improvised, but the battalion carried out the demands upon it. By the end of 1943, two-hundred and ten cars and the fifty-seven 1,000 horsepower diesel locomotives previously mentioned had been assembled.19 A total of 1,076 freight cars had been equipped with heavy couplings and friction draft gear. The month of December 1943 saw virtual completion of the programs for car erection and installation of air brakes. The increase in demand made upon the shop battalions is best illustrated by a comparison of the number of cars repaired during specific months. In June 1943, 14 cars were repaired; in December of the same year 2,074 cars were repaired; the number increased to 6,985 cars repaired during the month of December 1944.
The banner year, the year in which the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the Military Railway Service management and the hard work of its men paid off in tons was 1944. That is not to say 1944 was easy sailing. Three accidents, two on the Soviet sector of the ISR, interrupted the flow of traffic but failed to dent the statistical record. On the American part of the line the summer saw the destruction by fire, in the mountains southwest of Sultanabad, of a train of twenty-five cars, most of them carrying high-octane gasoline for delivery to the Russians.
On 28 July 1944 the delivery of the one-and-a-half millionth ton to the Russians called for a celebration. A 48-car train, which stopped for flourishes at all the main stations along the northbound route, was the center of culminating ceremonies at Tehran on that date.