Amherst Railway Society - meeting - March, 2018Date: Wednesday, March 14, 2018
Rails of WarThe Military Railway Service was a remarkable team effort between the US Army Corps of Engineers and commercial American railroads that proved vital to Allied victory in World War II. Known as the Affiliation Plan, commercial American railroads sponsored and trained specific units for the Military Railway Service. During World War II the service operated and maintained railroads in Europe, North Africa, Asia, and the Pacific that totaled more than 22,000 miles of track. Some 43,500 soldier-railroaders, most with years of experience, served in the Army in every theater of operations moving personnel and freight, often under enemy fire and through extreme weather conditions. One of those soldier-railroaders was James Harry Hantzis who served with the 721st Railway Operating Battalion in the China-Burma-India theater. On March 14th, James’ son, Steven, will recount his father’s experiences building, maintaining, and operating 700 miles of railroad through some of the most inhospitable conditions in the world. Steven is the author of Rails of War, the story of the 721st Railway Operating Battalion. He is a retired labor union administrator and a former brakeman/conductor for Penn Central Railroad. Amherst Railway Society meetings are open to the public.