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Remembered Today:

31st Light Railway Coy, RE


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Could any kind railway buff enlighten me as to the history and movement details of the 31st Light Railway Company from February 1917 onwards? Just the headlines, unless you have a complete day-to-day history to tell! Thanks in advance.

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Answering my oqwn question for posterity.

There is a book entitled “The light track from Arras”, by T.R.Heritage. ISBN 1 871980 40 2. Heritage served with the 19th and 31st Light Railway Operating Companies between 1917 and 1918.

According to www.transportdiversions.com :

“T. R. Heritage served with the 19th and 31st Light Railway Operating Companies during 1917 and 1918, the period when the Light Railways were operating at peak mileage and maximum efficiency. In his engaging and (at times) humorous narrative, the author describes his recruitment into the WDLR, the first experiences with the unfamiliar locomotives and petrol `tractors`, and the many derailments and incidents as the novice troops learned the hard way the disciplines of tracklaying. Heritage tells how the raw troops quickly gained experience, and soon were operating virtually a timetabled service delivering ammunition with near clockwork efficiency. Nevertheless the enemy did their best to disrupt proceedings, with artillery and air attacks that put the railwaymen in real danger and caused much hard work in repairing the lines, in conditions of mud, rain and blackout. Despite the privations of trench life, there are many amusing anecdotes, both of life on the trains, and off duty, and of encounters with Australian and American troops and French civilians. Heritage`s tale is a classic story, not just of men at war, but of a unique period in narrow gauge railway history. Never before had narrow gauge railways been built in such quantities, at such a speed, and operated in such an intensive way. It is the only known `personal` tribute to the Light Railway Operating troops, and as such is an essential work of railway literature. Plateway Press are proud to make this book, lost for almost 70 years, available once again.


· Preface

· Historical Background

· Foreword

· Introduction

· Chapter One: The Formation of the 31st

· Chapter Two: `Q` Dump

· Chapter Three: Operating

· Chapter Four: Tales of the Trains

· Chapter Five: The German Offensive, March, 1918

· Chapter Six: The Turn of the Tide

· Introduction to Chapter Seven

· Chapter Seven: The 19th Company

· Chapter Eight: Apres la Guerre

· Appendix One: Details of Track and Rolling Stock

· Appendix Two: List of Officers, NCOs and Men of the 31st Company

· Appendix Three: List of Officers, NCOs and Men of the 19th Company

· Appendix Four: Tractor Crews, Marcoing

· Diagram of Duty Board

· Diagram of Meal Indicator”

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I do not know whether you are looking purely for information on the 31st Light Railway Company or not.

If you are also looking for more general information on Light Railways can I suggest looking at the PRO document WO 158 852 which is a History of Light Railways.

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