North African railroads

Discussions on WW2 in Africa & the Mediterranean. Hosted by Andy H
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Nacht
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Here is my user version... NZ map... example El Alamein

Post by Nacht » 28 Jan 2007 21:01

"D",

I've got several of the NZ Survey / construction gradiant topo maps.... somewhere... but the POI's maps look like this... they show not only the rail and roads but other Points of Interest. Makes it much easier for me to follow a story line to simply print out a copy of one of these type maps and follow the unit activitiy.

Image

Being an ME myself, I have always had a keen interest in the NZ Engineers and their exploits in North Africa... here is an excerpt for thread readers... I love this NZ site!
http://www.nzetc.org/tm/scholarly/tei-W ... -WH2Eng46a

Note: Edited... because I need a typist... spelling and inversion typos... that is why I hate to post on forums!
Last edited by Nacht on 28 Jan 2007 21:16, edited 2 times in total.

JonS
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Post by JonS » 28 Jan 2007 21:10

David W - which 'down the escarpment' are you talking about: 'near' Alamein, or near Tobruk? FWIW, that '1st Class Routes" map was something done up for Op CRUSADER, and isn't strictly related to the WDR extension.

The route of the WDRX is shown here (from Engineers in the Middle Est, same link as Nacht gave previously):
Image
As you can see (sort of ... the map isn't the greatest) the WDR went 'up' the escarpment SW of Matruh. IIRC, the route used was 'new', and went up obliquely, rather than up a wadi bed or similar, which the vehicle routes tended to use.

Just how they got up the escarpment between Matruh/Charing Cross is a little vague ... it is alluded to here (page 170) but not really addressed.

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Nacht
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Link...

Post by Nacht » 28 Jan 2007 22:16

JonS...
Of course you like my NZ link also! Will find everyone a better map for the Rail lines... it seems to be a must... problem is that most are late 1943 and show the combat additions made and not the earliar 'as constructed' rail segments...

I'll find the engineering topographical survey section maps... the survey point locations will elicit use of 3D topo sat. survey materials avialable now online because of these geographic markers.

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Post by JonS » 28 Jan 2007 22:36

;)

I'll have a look in the Judd book (referenced earlier) to see what is in there.

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Nacht
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OK..Google Earth...

Post by Nacht » 28 Jan 2007 23:34

OK... to get a feel for the Rail lines and the topographical gradiants... sorry to bore those that know about this but there are those that do not know about the additional tools now available.

Here is simpler method... try Google Earth... simply type in the Search function...

Matruh, Egypt and when it comes into view... rotate image 180 degrees... so that you are looking from the Med toward Matruh...
You can move to magnify, change to an oblique angle 3D view of about 40-45 degrees and or simply follow the rail line all the way west to rail end if you wish! This can be magnified down to some 200 feet of elevation and still have a bit of clarity to the image... for the aerial / sat views at Tubruq, Libya.
There are still a lot of the signs of the war of the rail and other gun emplacement rings, etc. if you move east to El Alamein you can see the Italian War Cemetary in 3D (30º 54' 12.66" N, 28º 50' 21.22" E).... if you do a Search function at Google from there as the starting point... the rail lines and rail beds even where changed up to todays standards and locations are there for viewing.
Tobruk View (as we spell it and North is true North)
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Here is a sample pic of Marsa Matruh and then from the Matruh rail yard looking at 40-45 degree from the Med and to the SE... follow the rail line to where you want to go!
Top of picture view is true North
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After you click Options and Layers... check the add box for Rail lines and Highways or Roads and whatever else you'd like to see... be selective and try out some options...

Black lines are rail... thin Yellow are roads now showing(THICK Yellow line at country borders will show if selected)
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Rotated to SW direction at 40-45 degree Angle pic... to SW

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You can also get this tool as a trial version or buy it as I did and then you can have the exact coordinates to plug into another Sat program (as I gave you the coords. for the cemetary)... it will even play your own MP3 list and can be a screen saver and world clock all in one... this is really not a plug... but it is a nice tool to find distances between nearly any two points on the Earth as well!
3D World Map Download

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Post by Jon G. » 29 Jan 2007 11:21

All good stuff, and some nice pictures posted lately :)

Regarding the lay-outs used by the New Zealand rail troops, a novelty of sorts was introduced for rail yards in the Western Desert, where there's plenty of space. The railroad troops made use of 'balloon yards' - station lay-outs which measured literal miles across, with tracks for POL and ammunition spaced very widely apart. Even a small station could easily measure ten miles across. This type of layout was introduced to reduce the obvious risks which came from transporting POL and ammunition over the same rails, and also to minimise the damage done by Axis bombing raids. The spacious station layouts probably mean that there is not much left of the original stations' tracks today - the balloon yards have probably been reclaimed for housing in present-day Egypt I would suspect, or at least the contemporary appearance of Mersah Matruh (a major railhead on the WDR) suggests so.

Another interesting aerial countermeasure was flying barrage balloons over the trains themselves.

There are a few aerial-view drawings of the NZ rail troops' stations in Judd's book.
Nacht wrote:1. Heavy Freight Locomotives.
Heavier locomotives were required for use overseas, so the REC made plans to use the Great Central Railway's design of 2-8-0 which had been built for use in World War One. However, these were old enough to compare unfavourably with types of loco in use at the time. The REC decided that the best was the 2-8-0 (1D) of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway (these later became known as Stanier 8Fs, Stanier was the designer and 8F was the power classification)...
The Stanier 8F is put under the microscope as it were earlier on this thread. It appears that the War Department chose this engine over other designs because it was a known, tested reliable type which could be built by several manufacturers, not cutting-edge steam technology. I recall reading that there were also complaints over the limited braking power of the 8F.

Still, the services of the Stanier were enough to earn a knighthood for Mr. Stanier in 1943 :)

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Nacht
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I'll share...

Post by Nacht » 29 Jan 2007 12:18

OK... here is the material I am doing on the Tunisian side of things...

Tebessa was the key stepping stone to assimilate logistics from the American side in rail lines and to yank in the French... the thick yellow line is the border of Algeria and Tunisia...the black lines are the rail lines and the thin yellow lines are the roads...
Can you see why Kasserine was important... the convergence junction of three rail lines...

French Algeria putting into the fold with the Americans and the linking of three rail lines and the support at Tebessa, Algeria... it did not help the American's introduction to battling the veterans of the DAK at Kasserine!!!
The sat. view...
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Behind is the rail line... photo attributed to port of Tunis... but I have seen this same swastika laden Sd.Kfz.251 halftrack at another harbor series... attributed to Tripoli then!
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Motorized Infantry Battalion marked '57' of 6th Army abandoned vehicles near Tebourba... here again is an example of vehicles moving along the rail lines and you can see the extreme grades...
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Logistics and the rail were the American's forte'... bringing in the halftracks by rail to Tunisia... the flat cars are the inportant part of the picture here...
Image

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Post by JonS » 29 Jan 2007 21:04

I couldn't find anything particularly useful in Judd beyond the requirement for an additional engine to get up to Charing Cross/Mohalafa from Mersa. There are also refrences to "steep grade" and such but, given that I'm not really a rail dude, that kind of qualitative description is pretty much lost on me :)

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Post by Jon G. » 30 Jan 2007 21:01

Jon, is the grade given in per cent or pro mille in Judd's book? I'm currently not able to access most of my books due to a recent house move, a situation which should improve in the next week or so. Currently I'm relying on notes and my highly imperfect memory. Grades have been addressed earlier on this thread, but no exact gradients have been stated.

For what it is worth, steam engines have a much easier time negotiating steep gradients upwards than downwards. The main problem is keeping the engine under control when going downhill, not losing breath when going uphill - a problem that is amplified when you're running trains with un-braked wagons. Note, BTW, that the half-track on the picture posted by Nacht is located on an un-braked train as far as I can see. There is no brake pipe visible on the picture.

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Post by JonS » 30 Jan 2007 21:30

Hi Jon,
not that I could find. I vaguely seem to recall that there was soemthing there, but the organisation of the book makes finding it tricky. Surprisingly, it's not even really clear (in either Judd or the OH) that between Mersa and Charing Cross/Mohalafa is where the line gies up the escarpment.

Yes, the WDR-X used unbraked wagons ... I did find a humourous story in Judd about a train descending to Mersa that suffered a brake failure (like all good funny stories, it all turns out well in the end).

Jon

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Nacht
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Charing Cross = Mohalafa

Post by Nacht » 01 Feb 2007 17:19

Reference given... scroll down to page 170 if you do not want to read the whole article...

http://www.nzetc.org/tm/scholarly/tei-WH2Engr-c6-1.html

The work of the Tenth and their building of side spurs in case of runaways is cited in the article... also the displeasure of gov. officials for the 'christening' of this location...

Image

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Post by Jon G. » 01 Feb 2007 22:55

Egads! There's also an illustration of one of the 'balloon' layouts which I attempted to describe above:

Image

If memory serves, these are the exact same illustrations that Judd uses in his book. The Misheifa depot was completed in an amazing ten days! The NZ link also explains better why the spacious balloon layout was chosen:
...Colonel Anderson had already submitted a novel but practical plan for a circular depot instead of the orthodox type and gave his reasons, largely technical and without meaning to the layman. The Air Force said that such a set-up would be harder to put out of action and the ‘Ack-Ack’ people said it would be easier to defend. Everybody having to do with transportation chewed the idea over and approval was finally given on 27 October. The depot was required to handle six trains daily—one passenger, three stores, one water and one ambulance...
Note how the stated distribution of train types per day gives an idea about how much of the desert railway's capacity had to be devoted to water transport.

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Post by JonS » 01 Feb 2007 23:04

Jon G. wrote:If memory serves
It does.

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Post by Nacht » 02 Feb 2007 00:07

Colleagues...

I had simply thought that the information was a given as I had previously noted the reference and did not want to duplicate the thought process but you friends were talking Judd and I think 10th NZ... and the archives... hope it now makes more sense with my aims of links herein cited in the thread.

But the diatribe from the reference I had given also speaks more about the shunts and spurs as Judd does not discuss the finer points in quite as much detail. Trying to give David some idea of the hows and whys wherein the egress from the plateau was accomplished.

The use of the bulldozers and their maintenance was a true measure of their fortitude and veracity... these fellows were keen on their work!

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Post by David W » 02 Feb 2007 09:03

Nacht.

Are you suggesting a massive, man made bulldozed slope?

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