Tuesday , June 09, 2015 - 8:19 AM
A French boxcar is in the train depot in Ogden and was given to us in remembrance of its use in the two world wars. In the first world war, it was used to transport troops and equipment to the battlefields. It would hold 40 men and eight mules. So it was called the Forty and Eight boxcar in both wars.
The mules were used to pull cannons, equipment and supplies around the battlefields. They used mules because they were easier to handle than horses and would not get as upset with shells going off in the battles. In World War II the Forty and Eights were also used, especially after D Day to transport troops and supplies to and in the battlefields. They were effective and important in many engagements of the war.
In 1944, when I went through the port of southern France, there was a fleet of U.S. ships in the harbor filled with railroad rolling stock of all kinds; boxcars, passenger cars, even a special car designed to be used by generals in charge of the invasion. We were put on the Forty and Eights pulled by worn-out engines. (It took four days to get up through France, the engines would quit and have to be repaired every few miles). All that beautiful equipment on those ships could not be used because some famous engineer did not realize the gauge (the distance between the rails) was not the same in France as it was in America. This was one of the famous economic mistakes of World War II.
Sign up for e-mail news updates.