German Railways in the East

Discussions on the economic history of the nations taking part in WW2, from the recovery after the depression until the economy at war.
TheMarcksPlan
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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 03 Apr 2020 23:05

GregSingh wrote:Here is a photo of Rostov-on-Don railroad bridges
Thank you! Do you know when the replacement bridge opened?

Wonder why they built a whole new bridge when it looks like 2/3 of the old bridge was still usable? Probably the roadbed of the remaining parts was also destroyed?

IIRC the practice was usually for the Ostheer to build over destroyed bridges, as at least the piers remained.

GregSingh
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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by GregSingh » 04 Apr 2020 01:47

Smaller bridge was opened in Sep/Oct 1942, October the 1st was the "official" date.

Three-span bridge was only looking promising, it was beyond repair, as it was a drawbridge with vertically rising middle truss to allow vessels to pass).
Last edited by GregSingh on 04 Apr 2020 09:34, edited 1 time in total.
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TheMarcksPlan
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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 04 Apr 2020 08:07

GregSingh wrote:
04 Apr 2020 01:47
Smaller bridge was opened in Sep/Oct 1942, October the 1st was the "official" date.

Three-span bridge was only looking promising, it was beyond repair, as it was a drawbridge with middle part turning sideways to allow vessels to pass).
Thanks. Do you know whether the Germans had a rail ferry in operation between July and October? Did they ever use rail ferries?

GregSingh
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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by GregSingh » 04 Apr 2020 08:21

Not in Rostov, there was one in use in Cherson.
In Rostov they used road transport over pontoon bridge.
South of Don river Germans managed to get railroads up and running to Saretschnaja (Заречная).
Once railroad bridge was in place it took only 5 minutes to get from Saretschnaja to Rostov Hbf. according to timetable.

Pontoon bridge in Rostov on Don, 1942.
Rostov 1942 06.jpg
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TheMarcksPlan
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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 08 Apr 2020 21:09

GregSingh wrote:
04 Apr 2020 08:21
Not in Rostov, there was one in use in Cherson.
In Rostov they used road transport over pontoon bridge.
South of Don river Germans managed to get railroads up and running to Saretschnaja (Заречная).
Once railroad bridge was in place it took only 5 minutes to get from Saretschnaja to Rostov Hbf. according to timetable.
Thanks again for sharing your knowledge - would have responded earlier but must have missed the notification.

Any info on the rail ferry in Cherson?

Where is Заречная? Nearest result Google maps gave me is in Bryansk Oblast. Judging by the time and German difficulties with Mag-Lev and teleportation tech, it can't be far from Rostov. That's not as far as the line went south/east of Don, is it?

Was it standard practice for the Germans to publish timetables for lines in the SU? I wouldn't have thought they'd be providing common-carrier-type services...

GregSingh
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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by GregSingh » 09 Apr 2020 00:03

We had some photos and maps earlier in this topic about Cherson ferry, use search function.

Train station Заречная is just on the other side of the Don river - 47°12'16.6"N 39°42'14.8"E
I meant railroads were operational from Zarechnaya all the way down south to Caucasus, but Zarechnaya was as far as you could reach by rail traveling north from Caucasus, until the bridge was built over Don in Rostov.
So in case of supplying armies near Caucasus, they used road transport all the way from Rostov train station (over pontoon bridge) down south to Caucasus or trucks loaded at Rostov train station were unloaded to trains in Zarechnaya / Batajsk and goods were transported down south by railroads.

Yes, it was a common practice to publish timetables, although for obvious reasons those for general use did not contain any info about strict military transports. For these you needed service timetables, I think we uploaded an example earlier in this topic as well.
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TheMarcksPlan
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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 16 Apr 2020 21:40

Greg Singh wrote:I meant railroads were operational from Zarechnaya all the way down south to Caucasus, but Zarechnaya was as far as you could reach by rail traveling north from Caucasus, until the bridge was built over Don in Rostov.
So in case of supplying armies near Caucasus, they used road transport all the way from Rostov train station (over pontoon bridge) down south to Caucasus or trucks loaded at Rostov train station were unloaded to trains in Zarechnaya / Batajsk and goods were transported down south by railroads.
Thank you. That makes so much more sense.

I am really interested in exactly this topic: whether the Germans were able to maintain railroad operations on the far side of a river before the reconstruction of a railroad bridge.

Here you're indicating that the Germans ran trains in the Caucasus before the completion of the Rostov railroad bridge. Do you know whether the pre-bridge Caucasus railroad ops used German or Russian gauge and equipment? If German, then they must have had some way to ferry/carry rolling stock to the far side. That's why I'm interested in the topic of rail ferries. If Russian, it was probably a low-capacity operation improvised by the Army Group.

One reason I'm very interested in this topic is the contrast between the '41 trans-Dniepr advance by AGS and its '42 trans-Don analogue. In '41 it appears that AGS was unsupported by rail east of the Dniepr until very late in the year. Creveld mentions that AGC had to send 5,000 tons of Grosstransportraum to AGS in late September, just ahead of the critical Taifun offensive that lacked sorely for truck transport. AGS apparently experimented with running captured Russian stock east of the Dniepr during this period.

If the Germans were running Germans stock/gauge south of the Don prior to the Rostov bridge reconstruction, it demonstrates a significant logistical capacity deployed in '42 that wasn't in '41.

Tom from Cornwall
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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 07 May 2020 14:57

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
16 Apr 2020 21:40
whether the Germans were able to maintain railroad operations on the far side of a river before the reconstruction of a railroad bridge.
It might be of interest that 21 Army Group did exactly this in September 1944 across the Seine. Obviously wasteful in terms of unloading and loading of railway to/from motor transport in terms of labour, time and transport resources, but certainly achievable.

Regards

Tom

Tom from Cornwall
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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 29 Jul 2020 09:57

Hi,

TMP has asked me to add a bit more detail re 21 Army Group's admin operations across the Seine.

This is from "The Administrative History of 21 Army Group - 6 June 1944 - 8 May 1945":
CONTROL OF TRANSPORT
The BRITISH L of C was now approximately four hundred miles long. In order that some of the grounded formations of Second Army could be lifted up before the next advance took place, a short breathing space occurred in which maintenance supplies were also brought up. Meanwhile, plans were being laid for further advances eastwards in BELGIUM and northwards across the MAAS and the RHINE in conjunction with an airborne operation. It was immediately realised that this would place an even greater strain on the greatly extended L of C and road transport. The main depots from which the armies were being maintained were still in the RMA and there were virtually no stocks on the ground between them and the holdings in corps FMCs in forward areas. The support of this advance and airborne operation was an administrative risk as it would absorb all the reserves in the pipeline. On the other hand, if it failed or was not entirely successful there would of necessity be a long pause while the L of C was re-organised and reserves built up. The closest supervision and control in order that the best use should be made of every means of transport was therefore necessary, but Second Army had got too far ahead and it was impossible to have adequate control from a HQ at either of the two ends of the L of C. About 10 September therefore it was decided to establish an organisation to be called TRANCO, which would co-ordinate all means of transport from the RMA to the army roadheads. It consisted of an integrated "Q" and "Q" Movements staff with Services representatives from RASC and Labour to assist, and was set up at AMIENS in time to take control on 19 September. AMIENS was selected for its location as being approximately half way along the L of C, a big rail centre and possessed of good communications. The establishment of TRANCO meant that a radical change in the road transport policy of 21 Army Group must occur. All GHQ transport would be withdrawn from armies and would operate under the direct control of HQ 21 Army Group both at the ports and on the L of C, leaving to the armies only sufficient for the traffic forward from the army roadheads. TRANCO directed and co-ordinated with other agencies movement of personnel, stores and transport for stocking army roadheads. It was also responsible for the transhipment of stores from railheads SOUTH of the SEINE to railtails NORTH of the SEINE. Armies submitted estimates of their daily maintenance requirements by commodities for five day periods five days in advance. TRANCO then issued an outline rail and road programme and by judicious use of the railtails NORTH of the SEINE and of the transport that was running through from the RMA, was able to adjust demands in accordance with ruling priorities. The flow of supplies for the two armies which had been gradually decreasing up to that period began to increase again and although the levels of all commodities and stores inevitably fell to a low ebb in the forward areas just after the airborne operation, the supply situation generally continued to improve.
And this is from WO171/720 - War Diary Q Branch HQ Lines of Communication:
7 September 1944
Tonnages. Landed 3750. DIEPPE discharges start.
Rail. 2000 tons daily to railhead SOUTH of the SEINE wef 11 Sep, to be increased later to 2400. Line DIEPPE – ARRAS expected to be open very soon. By end of Sep expected to be a link across SEINE.
Moves by sea possible for small units to ANTWERP, taking approx 8 days.
Pipeline now just SOUTH of SEINE should cross it in about 8 days.
and from the L OF C AQ NEWS SUMMARY Issue No 1 – 26 Sep 44 (same file reference):
RAIL
1. Stores
(a) Movement of stores out of the RMA has now reached some 3500 tons per day, involving the daily running of ten stores and one warflat train to railheads SOUTH of the SEINE.
(b) NORTH of the SEINE stores movement by rail is in the nature of 7500 – 8000 tons per day. This tonnage to fwd railheads includes that lifted from DIEPPE, LE TREPORT and Rail Tails in the DARETAL area and involves the running of 14 trains daily.
(c) The rail link across the River SEINE is now in operation and an increased volume of traffic will run straight through to railheads from the RMA. Dumping of stores will continue to a lesser degree SOUTH of the SEINE and be carried fwd to loading stations NORTH of the river.
(d) It is anticipated that by the end of Sep some 3500 – 4000 tons per day, involving seven trains, will be worked direct across the SEINE, whilst 1000 – 1500 tons, involving four or five trains, will be dumped SOUTH of the SEINE to be lifted fwd by MT.
Regards

Tom

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 06 Aug 2020 23:21

Thanks, Tom.

Before reconstruction of the Seine bridges, the Americans appear to have trucked from beachhead to the Seine, then put on railway cars:
In order to make the best possible use of
this network while the through lines along
the Seine were being restored, logistical
planners decided to continue the movement of as much tonnage as possible by
truck to the Seine and to transfer supplies
to the railways, which could then carry
them forward to the army areas. Transfer
points were eventually established just
outside Paris, where the cargoes of the Red
Ball convoys were transferred to the railways for movement to the armies. 2
https://history.army.mil/html/books/007 ... _7-2-1.pdf at 552

It appears the British did some beach-rail-ferry-rail operations.

Also noteworthy is that 18,000 men (including PoW's) were working on rail reconstruction in France at the end of August '44. p.551. Here's a summary of what they accomplished:
By mid-September upwards of 3,400
miles of track had been rehabilitated and
more than forty bridges had been rebuilt.
Nearly all of this work was accomplished
after the breakout from St. Lô. 25 By the
end of the month rail lines had been
opened eastward as far as Liége in the
north and Verdun and Toul in the south,
and bridge reconstruction was in progress
at all three places. The rehabilitation of
the railway had therefore proceeded far
beyond what had been planned by that
date.
This progress was reflected in the increasing tonnages forwarded by rail. As of
1 August cumulative rail shipments had
totaled only one million ton-miles. A
month later the total had risen to 12,500,-
000, and by mid-September shipments
were averaging nearly 2,000,000 ton-miles
per day. Beginning with the first driblet
of supplies forwarded via rail east of Paris
on 4 September, the daily tonnages handled beyond the Seine by the middle of
the month averaged 5,000 tons and continued to rise. 26
Der Alte Fritz mentioned upthread the possibility of studying/quantifying the cost of a "Second Otto" behind Barbarossa that might have adequately supported the Ostheer. Perhaps a comparative analysis with the US Army's efforts in France would be interesting to that end. American engineers were no doubt more productive than German - their immensely greater capital endowments alone would have guaranteed that. Maybe by comparing relative pre-war railroad productivity statistics with the outputs of each army's rail reconstruction programs (measured in track miles, bridge construction, etc.) we could say something about Ostheer's relative performance in the East and the feasibility/cost of a hypothetical "Second Otto."


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The linked book also discusses that the Americans used flashlights, cigarette lighters, and even lit cigarettes as signalling devices during August/September rapid pursuit after breakout from Normandy. Did the Germans use such improvised methods during Barbarossa or Blau? The book mentions one case of a fuel train smashing into another train so safety wasn't assured... Given the Heer-Bahn fights over safety maybe this wasn't something the Germans would have agreed to.

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