The Liberation Line

The untold story of how railwaymen won the War

Christian Wolmar

Proposal Original publisher: AtlanticHistory

There have been many books about D-Day and the Allied invasion of Europe that ended the Second World War. But one dramatic aspect of this story has been almost entirely ignored.

Until now.

The Liberation Line shows that without the indomitable work of the US Military Rail Service and their counterparts in the Royal Engineers, who overcame enemy attacks, sabotage and booby traps to repair many hundreds of miles of destroyed railway tracks and dozens of bridges and tunnels, the invasion would almost certainly have foundered.

But thanks to the startling creativity and leadership of soldier-engineers like the US General Emerson Ischtner, whose men achieved apparently impossible things, the Allied armies could travel deep into Nazi-occupied territory at tremendous speed.

The Liberation Line tells for the first time how more than 1,000 locomotives and 31,000 carriages were manufactured in secret in the United States and shipped to England, where they were hidden until D-Day; how, on General Patton’s orders (and under General Itschner’s leadership), more than 10,000 soldier-engineers repaired 135 miles of devastated track between Avranches and Le Mans, at times under enemy attack , in five days, enabling the US Third Army to reconquer Paris.

This was followed by the creation of the Toot Suite Express, another staggering feat, which enabled several million tons of essential supplies to be be transported at speed from the Normandy coast deep into France. The engineers’ final, triumphant effort, was the restoration, at breakneck speed, of a series of destroyed railway bridges over the Rhine into Germany and the immediate seizure, restoration and operation of the German rail system.

The resulting book promises to be highly original, intensely dramatic and  will rescue remarkable leaders like General Itschner and his British counterparts from near total obscurity.

Represented by Susanna Lea Associates on behalf of Toby Mundy at Aevitas Creative Management UK.