Alfred M. Lambert Sr.
714th Railway Operating Battalion

During World War II, the Alaska Railroad was used by the army to transport military personnel, supplies, and construction materials between Seward, Whittier, Anchorage, and Fairbanks. To facilitate these activities and to provide security for railroad operations the 714th Railway Operating Battalion was assigned to operate the railroad in May of 1943 in cooperation with civilian railroad personnel. In addition to its rail activities, the Alaska Railroad also operated a river line between the railhead at Nenana and Marshall on the Lower Yukon, and modernized and operated the Eska Coal Mines north of Anchorage in order to adequately supply the coal needs of the army and the railroad during the war. In addition, the 1,150 men of the Battalion helped construct the Whittier cut-off and 31 miles of branch lines from Fairbanks to nearby air bases. The army operation ended in May, 1945.

Alfred M. Lambert Sr. was assigned to the 714th Railway Operating Battalion from April of 1943 until January of 1945. The following is an overview of this assignment:

Here is some additional information from an Army website:

"For the purpose of the record, and for the information of the original outfit that started for Alaska, the 714th left Camp Clairborne under letter order of that camp dated 14th March, 1943. Our orders transferred us to Fort Lewis, Washington where we picked up further orders for Fort Richardson, Alaska, then known as APO 942, US Army, c/o Postmaster, Seattle, Washington. At Seattle we picked up three Track Maintenance Platoons, two of which came form the 715th and one form the 719th Railway Operating Battalions. The strength of the battalion for the mission at hand was 1108 enlisted men, two warrant officers and 23 commissioned officers."

"Between 1942 and 1945 the people of Anchorage seem to live in harmony with their Quonset neighbors. It was as though they accepted these structures for their part in the war effort. One Quonset camp was erected in the railway yard at Ship Creek, the very birthplace of Anchorage's original tent city. Huts were laid out nearly end-to-end in long rows. Called the "Snake Ranch," this camp was the home of the 714th Railway Operating Battalion, a military contingent deployed to assist the Alaska Railroad in efficient transportation of military supplies. Having served the territory for twenty-five months, the battalion was relieved of duty on May 7, 1945. They were shipped out three days later. Left behind was a village of Quonset huts that stood silent amidst the desperate cries of a housing shortage." [referenced website]

Many thanks to Alfred M. Lambert Jr. for loaning me the photo albums for use on this project. Whenever possible, the original captions found in the albums were used. However, when captions did not exist a knowledgeable crew came to my rescue. Thanks goes to Pat Durand (PD) and Carl Freshour (CF).



Page created 5/12/05 and last updated 5/28/08
© Alfred M. Lambert family 2005-2008
These photographs may not be republished or
otherwise used without the family's permission