Engineers - 2nd Australian Light Gauge Op Coy
From Our Contribution
AWM photo E04674 Menin Road Area, Birr Cross Roads 3 Nov 1917 Ruins after a direct hit on a trainload of ammunition.
AWM photo P03608.026 A narrow gauge locomotive depot near Tincourt, Hindenburg Outpost Line.
Formed in Australia during January 1917 as the 5th Section, Australian Railway Troops. Arrived in England on 21 July 1917. Redesignated 16th Light Railway Operating Company in July 1917, and following training moved to France on 4 October 1917. On 28 February 1918 they were redesignated as the 2nd Light Railway Operating Company.
These small locomotives with their drivers and engineers from the light railway operating companies carried supplies of war material from the standard gauge railheads up to the forward lines.
While the steam locomotives hauled supplies from the railheads, haulage to the forward lines was done by petrol locomotives that took over from the steam locomotives at distribution points some distance behind the front. In forward areas, steam locomotives were far too visible to enemy observation (steam and smoke by day and glowing fire by night). Even the petrol locomotives did not extend their operations right to the front lines. Hand worked ‘trench tramways’ served here.
Light railways became redundant once trench warfare gave way to a war of movement in the latter part of 1918.
On 21 October 1918 the 1st Australian Light Railway Operating Company was transferred to broad gauge work. The 2nd Australian Light Railway Operating Company was later added to this effort.
- 2 Military Medals
- 1 Meritorious Service Medal
Content for the history and honours sections has come from a combination of 'Looking for the Evidence' and the Australian War Memorial websites.