The liberation line

Christian Wolmar


In stock

As the Allied forces advanced through France following the Normandy landings, just behind the frontline the US Military Rail Service and their counterparts in the Royal Engineers were at work, ensuring that crucial supply lines were up and running – without them the liberation of France and the invasion of Germany would founder. Based on original research, ‘The Liberation Line’ reveals how the railwaymen overcame enemy attacks, sabotage and booby traps to repair many hundreds of miles of destroyed railway tracks and dozens of bridges and tunnels in order to deliver victory.

ISBN: 9781838957520 Category:


‘A masterful account of the unsung heroes of the battle for Normandy. Without the valiant efforts of the British and American railwaymen, the liberation of France might have had a very different outcome. A gripping tale.’ Giles MiltonThey certainly were not soldiers, yet they suddenly found themselves in uniform, in a foreign land. But, as locomotive drivers, track-workers, conductors, porters, signalmen and engine cleaners, they knew how to run trains. And their job was to bring them back to life. The Liberation Line tells the thrilling story of the British and American railway engineers who, in the months after D-Day, worked around the clock and in great danger to rebuild the ravaged railways of Europe and keep the Allied forces fuelled as they pushed on into Germany. As territory was taken, these soldier-railroaders were close behind, rebuilding the lines, putting up telegraph wires, replacing bridges and laying track, all the while dodging bullets, shells and booby traps. Tales of extraordinary feats and heroism abound, including how 10,000 men rebuilt a 135-mile-long railway in just three days; the reconstruction of the bridge over the Seine in two weeks while under bombardment; and the use of cigarette lighters as improvised signalling systems. Despite being critical to Allied victory, the role of the railwaymen has been largely forgotten or ignored. In a vivid and gripping narrative, Christian Wolmar brings to life this colourful cast of generals and engineers, without whose extraordinary bravery the liberation of France and invasion of Germany might well have foundered – and the course of history changed.

Additional information

Weight 0.64 kg
Dimensions 24.2 × 16.2 × 3.6 cm






xiv, 368 , 16 unnumbered of plates




940.541273 (edition:23)


General – Trade / Code: K

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