Rails of War


Rails of War

Supplying the Americans and Their Allies in China-Burma-India

Steven James Hantzis

232 pages
24 photographs, 6 maps, 1 index


May 2017


$29.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

May 2017


$29.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

May 2017


$29.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

In a theater of war long forgotten and barely even known at the time, James Harry Hantzis and his fellow soldiers labored at a thankless task under oppressive conditions. Nonetheless, as Rails of War demonstrates, without the men of the 721st Railway Operating Battalion, the Allied forces would have been defeated in the China-Burma-India conflict in World War II.

Steven James Hantzis’s father served alongside other GI railroaders in overcoming danger, disease, fire, and monsoons to move the weight of war in the China-Burma-India theater. Torn from their predictable working-class lives, the men of the 721st journeyed fifteen thousand miles to Bengal, India, to do the impossible: build, maintain, and manage seven hundred miles of track through the most inhospitable environment imaginable.

From the harrowing adventures of the Flying Tigers and Merrill’s Marauders to detailed descriptions of grueling jungle operations and the Siege of Myitkyina, this is the remarkable story of the extraordinary men of the 721st, who moved an entire army to win the war.

For more information about Rails of War, visit railsofwar.com.

Author Bio

Steven James Hantzis is the son of James Harry Hantzis, former staff sergeant of the World War II 721st Railway Operating Battalion. A retired Grand Lodge representative for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, Steven Hantzis worked twelve years as a brakeman-conductor for Conrail. Both his father and his great-grandfather were railroaders.

For more information about the author, visit stevenjhantzis.com.


"An excellent insight into the Allied Force’s actions to close out the China-Burma-India Theater."—Lt. Col. Joe M. Schotzko, Military Review

"Readers with an interest in the CBI Theater or in railroading in general will find much to enjoy in Rails of War."—Roger D. Cunningham, Journal of America's Military Past

"Rails of War will prove a profitable read for anyone interested in military railroading or the CBI."—A. A. Nofi, Strategy Page

"This was a theatre of war . . . long forgotten and barely even known at the time. The author brings this period of history to life by drawing on his own heritage."—Peter Whitehead, Asian Affairs

"Rails of War makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of American rear-area support units and logistical efforts in the CBI Theater."—Steven K. Bailey, Michigan War Studies Review

"This is an excellent recounting which should appeal to, and enlighten, readers interested in expanding their knowledge of events in the CBI Theater. Most impressive are Hantzis's in-depth knowledge of rail operations and their contribution to the overall war effort."—Colonel D.J. Judge, On Point: The Journal of Army History

“An incredible look at the monumental task of these logistics superheroes. . . . These unsung members of our Greatest Generation worked miracles, and Steve Hantzis does a wonderful job capturing the danger, the difficulty, and the rewards in a very personal way. As a commander of our Flying Tigers in Desert Storm, I especially enjoyed the parallels between the logistics of World War II and Desert Storm.”—Gen. Gene Renuart, USAF (Ret.)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
1. SS Mariposa
2. Leaving Bombay
3. Indian Rails
4. To Parbatipur
5. Air Raid
6. The Ledo Road
7. Relay
8. First Encounters
9. Inside the 721st
10. Merrill’s Marauders
11. Company B
12. Fire
13. Mutaguchi’s Gift
14. The Battle of Kohima
15. After the Storm
16. Inbound
17. Material Inferiority
18. Monsoon
19. The Siege of Myitkyina
20. A Ghost in the Yards
21. Kaunia Junction
22. Brothers
23. Japanese Retrench
24. Medic! Medic!
25. Stepping Up
26. Another Christmas
27. Milepost 103
28. The Road Less Traveled
29. Toy Train to Shangri-La
30. Crossing Irrawaddy
31. The Home Fires
32. Blue Flag
33. Coupled Up
34. The New President
35. Endgame
36. Above Rangoon Jail
37. Germany Surrenders
38. Discharge
39. The Conductor
40. Around the World
41. Departure
42. Christmas 1945

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