3rd Australian Light Railway Operating Company

About This Unit

 3rd Australian Light Railway Operating Company


Formed in France on 11 June 1917 as 17th Anzac Light Railway Operating Company then renamed 3rd Light Railway Operating Company in March 1918. On 19 September 1918 the unit was reorganised and redesignated 3rd Light Railway (Forward) Company.

The raising of these units coincided with the implementation of a battlefield rail strategy across British and Commonwealth Areas of Operations.  The widespread use of battlefield rail, particularly the narrow gauge rail network transformed supply, personnel movement and casualty evacuation.

The Light Railway Companies were operated by the Engineers and came into existence when it became clear that the maintenance of roads was becoming a severe problem, in terms of the manpower needed and enormous quantities of road stone clogging up the supply routes. In February 1916 the first new light railways were sanctioned.

The first light railway operated by the British was a French one. It had a track gauge of 60cm (2 feet), and this was subsequently applied to all light railways constructed by the army. Prefabricated track in lengths, that were in themselves of light weight revolutionised construction and reduced the required effort immensely. They could be easily carried and laid quickly, and with minimal preparation of the ground. For lengths of rail that were going to be more permanent, they were laid like full-size tracks, with sleepers and stone ballast. Special units were formed for the construction, maintenance and operation of the new system.


 We would particularly like to encourage individual historians researchers or members of unit associations to contribute to the development of a more detailed history and photographs pertaining to this unit and its members.

Please contact [email protected]  (mailto:[email protected])for details on how to contribute.