Looking for information

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Thu Oct 18 14:30:39 EDT 2018

Hi Rick,


Thanks for the e-mail. Most of Europe except Iberia, Finland, Ireland were
and remain standard gauge. The loading gauge varied and still varies. The UK
has the most restrictive loading gauge. Our railways were built by
parsimonious Victorians and there was little agreement on this particular
key dimension. The GWR was built to a 7'0" track gauge but this was
converted to the standard gauge in a very limited time in the late
nineteenth century.


There was also a proliferation  (now largely vanished ) of narrow gauge but
the locos were not intended for these. The S120s  were viewed essentially as
a quickly produced, robust and versatile work horse with a limited life
expectation. A bit like Liberty ships and Lancaster bombers. There were some
very similar locos delivered specifically to Belgium. They had
distinguishing smoke deflectors. The French (SNCF) brought in a huge number
of Liberator 2-8-2s with very rakish smoke deflectors. A huge contrast to
the complex indigenous French compounds. The Liberators lasted until the end
of steam in France and some are in preservation. I wish we had received a
scaled down equivalent for use in Britain.


I think some of these S120 locos made several Atlantic crossings. I need to
check my sources on this.


I hope this casts a little more light into dark corners.








From: NW-Mailing-List [mailto:nw-mailing-list-bounces at nwhs.org] On Behalf Of
NW Mailing List
Sent: Thursday, October 18, 2018 5:40 PM
To: NW Mailing List
Subject: Re: Looking for information



Thank you for the response.

I am a bit ignorant regarding operations in the UK and the Continent.  Did
Europe have a standard railroad gauge in the years prior to WWII?  I ask
because you said that the locomotives brought over from The States have
migrated all over Europe.  A standard gauge makes sense but that doesn't
mean it happened.

Thanks again.



From: NW-Mailing-List <nw-mailing-list-bounces at nwhs.org> on behalf of NW
Mailing List via NW-Mailing-List <nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org>
Sent: Thursday, October 18, 2018 9:34 AM
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Cc: NW Mailing List
Subject: RE: Looking for information 


Good afternoon ,


The loco was one of many produced by the major US builders for use on
damaged lines. They were shipped to the UK and stored in huge secure dumps
ahead of moving to main land Europe after D-Day. They were simple and
effective. I think three had boiler explosions in the UK largely because
they only had one water level gauge. The locos came as a shock to some of
the train crew who used them on domestic freight services in the UK,
particularly the roomy cab and ease of access to valve gear for lubrication
and maintenance. There were mixed opinions about riding quality. 


They lasted quite a long while and several are in preservation and running
order/restoration. They scattered across Europe as far as Greece, Yugoslavia
and Austria. One was retained by the UK forces on their internal railway
system. I believe some were sent to China and wound up in North Korea. I
have no idea as to what happened to them. One was a temporary guest at the
Mid-Hants Railway some years ago. It got a reputation for being noisy,
particularly the whistle.


Regards from this side of the pond.


Phil Mortimer


From: NW-Mailing-List [mailto:nw-mailing-list-bounces at nwhs.org] On Behalf Of
NW Mailing List
Sent: Thursday, October 18, 2018 1:36 PM
To: nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Subject: Looking for information


I know that the Railroad Operation Battalions of WWII have been discussed
here before.  I have a friend who is researching a relative (now passed) who
served with the 720th Railroad Operation Battalion in France and later in
Germany.  My friend recalls his relative talking about assisting in the
liberation of a concentration camp in or near Germany near the end of the

Any help the group could provide about the 720th operational area or
exploits would be appreciated.  I have attached a couple of photos that my
friend had that shows the type of equipment that the unit used.

Many thanks.


Rick Huddle

Delaware, OH  

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