View single post by Lee B
 Posted: Wed Mar 9th, 2022 05:28 pm
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Lee B

Joined: Tue Dec 9th, 2014
Location: The Pacific NW, By Way Of The Deep South, USA
Posts: 1315
I've been asked several times to explain my fictional railway unit insignia.

So, I created the 'official' history of the unit's time along Stoney Creek:

“The Stump Jumpers”

A history of the 796th Railway Operating Battalion, US Army

Compiled by the US Army Center of Military History, Fort McNair

The 796th Railway Operating Battalion (ROB) was established on paper
by the US Army Transportation Command at Fort Eustis, Virginia on November 30, 1942.

From the formation of the unit, the Clinchfield Railroad wanted to sponsor a ROB
and they were asked to assist in the creation of this battalion.

They provided a cadre of experienced railroaders, with the expectation of eventually
running railroads in formerly occupied nations once they were liberated by Allied forces.

Most railroaders in this unit throughout the war were formerly from the Clinchfield.

By January of 1943, the advance party of the ROB headquarters
were in Johnson City, Tennessee to scout locations for their elements.

Battalion HQ and most of the companies were set up near the narrow-gauge East Tennessee
& Western North Carolina (ET&WNC) railroad shops and yard in Johnson City.

As most of the effort for the 796th was devoted to running the Stoney Creek Branch,
B Company was set up in various locations along that line
and set up its company headquarters along a former logging spur near Winner, Tennessee.

Conditions along the line were spartan and supplies were long in coming.

A dismantled Nissen hut which had been rejected during testing in Virginia
was assembled along the spur and an ET&WNC shack was taken over
as a little shop for anything needing hand tools.

A former Stoney Creek Southern refrigerated car along the spur was taken over for storage.

Perforated steel airfield “Marston matting” was placed in a square
for a parking area for the unit’s heavier vehicles.

A trio of 2-6-2 tank engine ‘trench’ locomotives from the Great War
were re-gauged at the ET&WNC shops and immediately put to work along the line,
along with some narrow-gauge Army cars that arrived unannounced
on the backs of some flat cars in the Johnson City yard.

All this equipment was used in various locations along the line.

One was set aside as a permanent switcher for the B Company,
another dedicated to use around the battalion HQ.

Right away, track crews of the 796th went to work on the track
which in most cases hadn’t been touched by crews in almost twenty years.

In a few weeks, Army railroaders with 55-pound rail and newly cut ties,
had the right of way was looking better than the locals said it had when it was new.

By the spring of 1943, soldier/railroaders of the 796th were out of tents for good
and housed in larger squad tents and Quonset huts
that had arrived with additional heavy wheeled vehicles.

Working closely with the ET&WNC, the 796th ran several freight
and passenger and freight trains throughout the entire line.

It was common to see soldier railroaders crewing trains anywhere
between Johnson City to either Buladeen, Tennessee or Cranberry, North Carolina.

By summer of 1943, operations were well underway for tactical training and familiarity
with European and Asian prototype equipment for eventual deployment overseas.

A handful of European rolling stock captured in Africa
was brought to Stoney Creek for the 796th to work with.

A new Whitcomb 50-tonner diesel-electric locomotive was also brought in,
though it proved to be unpopular with crews and somewhat unreliable.

In anticipation of the invasion of Europe during the spring of 1944,
the 796th was ordered to prepare for movement to the New York port of Embarkation
and eventual movement to the European Theater of Operations,
where they later served with great distinction.

The 796th ended the war at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
and the unit was disbanded in 1946.

The Battalion insignia is described as a ‘trench’ engine jumping over a stump,
upon a shield of Transportation Corps yellow.

The insignia was unofficially created by a member of HQ Company, who later said
he had designed it after the initial review of the Stoney Creek right of way.

During the review, one officer was heard to say,
“Boys, looks like we’ll be jumping stumps for the rest of the war”

Commanding Officer, 796th Railway Operating Battalion (in On30 gauge)
Photos of my layout:
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