According to a sign on the unit, the locomotive—a 65-D.E.-19-A—was built in 1944 and worked in North Africa as U.S. Army 8450. It was part of a large number of Whitcomb locomotives sent overseas as part of the war effort; the units also worked in Great Britain, Italy, Belgium, Germany and The Netherlands.
The Army specification called for a locomotive to be able to run on any European main line, have a top speed of at least 45 mph, and be able to operate with similar locomotives.After the war in Europe ended, the Army shipped 118 of the units back to the U.S. for use in the war against Japan. When the war against that country, the units were no longer needed; they were sold to various shortlines beginning in 1947.
Picture from right after the unit was transported from the Rock Island plant.