Original U.S. WWII 750th Railway Operating Battalion Ike Jacket with Distinctive Unit Insignia
Original Item: One-of-a-kind. This is an ornate and very rare Ike jacket. It belonged to a corporal in the 750th Railway Operating Battalion who apparently was a Prisoner of War. Of particular note is that the jacket bears Distinctive Unit Insignias for the 750th ROB which are very rare, additionally the solider has custom silver beading placed to outline the majority of his patches, giving this jacket a unique eye catching appeal. It is ink stamped with size 39L, and has laundry number R3524 written in marker.
The jacket has the following features:
- Silver Bullion Third Army patch on left shoulder outlined in silver bead.
- Bullion theatre made Seven Army (Seven Steps of Hell) insignia patch on right shoulder outlined in silver bead.
- 750th Railway Operating Battalion Distinctive Unit Insignias (screw backs) on both collars.
- Corporal Chevrons
- Triple bar overseas service patch on left cuff outlined in silver bead.
- Ruptured Duck patch.
- Engineers collar tab.
- Medal Ribbons as follows: WWII Victory, Prisoner of War Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, EuropeanAfricanMiddle Eastern Campaign Medal with three battle campaign stars.
The jacket has no name to identify it, so we are unable to find out anymore of the POW story beyond the presence of the medal ribbon.
The mission of a railway operating battalion was to manage and maintain a designated section of a military railway in a theater of operations. Unlike civilian railroads, however, the battalions also had to be prepared to destroy the line it operated. In general, a railway operating battalion could maintain and operate between ninety and 150 miles of single-track railroad, although its actual area of responsibility in wartime depended on the military situation. When conducting rail operations in friendly areas or occupied territory, the battalion used local civilian technical and skilled railway employees to augment its capabilities, but they had to be supervised by military personnel to safeguard against possible sabotage. It also presented challenges to the English-speaking American soldier-railroaders who were not always familiar with how other countries operated their railways.
The organization of a railway operating battalion paralleled a typical Army battalion with a headquarters company and three or four lettered companies. Each company had a unique organization with specific capabilities corresponding to the organization of a civilian railroad division. Headquarters company dispatched trains, supplies, and signals. Company A repaired and maintained track and associated equipment such as switches, bridges, water tanks, signal equipment, and buildings. The company had two platoons, one for bridge and building maintenance and one to maintain track. Company B operated the roundhouse and repaired and maintained rolling stocklocomotives and cars. It also had two platoons, one to repair locomotives, the other to repair cars. Locomotives and railway cars were not assigned to the battalion but moved through the entire railway system as needed. Company C was the largest unit in the battalion with two platoons, each of which had twenty-five crews to operate trains, yards, and stations in the battalion’s area of responsibility. In areas of the world where there were large numbers of electric trains, such as Europe, a Company D could be added to the battalion to maintain the electrical supply system.
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