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American Legion Auxiliary Unit 28 Ephemera Collection

Identifier: USCU-ARUP-2018-0004

Scope and Contents

The American Legion Auxiliary Unit 28 Ephemera Collection came to the library as part of the American Legion Auxiliary Collection. It was collected by Olivia Ruth Alexander Taylor and contains correspondence and ephemera related to selected events. There are a few items related to Olivia Ruth Alexander on her graduation from Pauline High School, some personal correspondence, and identification cards. The bulk of the collection, however, relates to items saved by both Ruth and Harry Taylor during Mr. Taylor’s service in the Military during World War II. The items in the collection include correspondence: personal between from Harry to Ruth, from others, and from the Military to Harry. Also in the collection are various identification cards, military passes, forms, and licenses.


  • 1923 - 1949


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Please contact the archives at or 864-503-5648 to schedule a research appointment.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status undetermined. For more information, contact Archives and Special Collections at the University of South Carolina Upstate. Learn More (

Biographical / Historical

Ruth and Harry Taylor were married and lived in Pauline South Carolina. In 1943 at the age of 35, Harry Taylor was inducted into the Army and went to Fort Jackson in South Carolina for basic training. He then went on to Camp Shelby in Mississippi for specialized training. In 1944, Harry Taylor was assigned to the Headquarters Company of the 743rd Railway Operating Battalion during World War II and eventually promoted to the rank of Tec 4. On completing specialized training, Taylor and his Company went to Antwerp, Belgium for the duration of the war. Correspondence to Ruth from Harry was addressed the Sheriff’s office in Pauline South Carolina.

The United States Army created the Military Railway Service in the 1920s. All Class 1 railroad companies were charged with creating a battalion to serve during wartime. Each battalion was organized into four companies with the Headquarters Company and Companies A, B, and C. Their job was to maintain railroad tracks, terminals, shops, locomotives, and structures. The Army utilized professional railroad personnel as well as Army engineers to create railway operating battalions that functioned as smoothly as civilian railways. Officers were recruited from commercial railroads. Each battalion was to maintain and operate a section of single-track railroad of up to 150 miles. When the United Stated entered World War II at the end of 1941, the Army activated additional railway operating battalions. The new enlisted men were not necessarily experienced with railroad operations, so the War Department contracted with commercial railroads for training before shipping out overseas. The Railway Battalions were sent to many countries during the war to make sure the railway lines remained viable and supplies moved safely.

The 743rd Railway Operating Battalion, sponsored by the Illinois Central Railroad, was activated on 01/12/1944 and stationed in Antwerp, Belgium. Antwerp was a large deep-water port and had its infrastructure intact. Defending the port of Antwerp and keeping supplies moving to where they were needed was essential to the success of the Allied forces. By December of 1944, under fairly constant German bombardment, 19,000 tons of supplies were unloaded daily at the port of Antwerp.

Sources Consulted:

Wikipedia Military Railway Service

Railroaders in Olive Drab: The Military Railway Service in WWII

Antwerp and World War Two


.25 Linear Feet (1 legal sized small document box)

Language of Materials


Physical Location

Located in stacks. LIB 227

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Deposit—part of the American Legion Auxiliary Collection.

Physical Description

Materials consist of handwritten, typed, and printed documents. There is one photographic print and one military medal. Most items are quite fragile. Special handling may be required.


Deborah Rouse
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the University of South Carolina Upstate Library Repository

800 University Way
Spartanburg SC 29303 United States