Home Front – Troop Train Redux

Pennsylvania railroad ad

From Penney Vanderbilt…..

Although I write many articles on scheduled train travel, I’m really much more interested in special movements (Presidential specials, circus trains and the like). One type of special movement important throughout American rail history has been troop trains. The first war in which trains were used to carry Americans to battle was the Mexican War in 1846. Trains were first used on a large scale to transport armies in the Civil War. Extensive use of trains to carry troops occurred in both World Wars. These trains were referred to by railroad personnel as “mains”.

Equipment on board

Between 1941 and 1945 almost all American soldiers rode a train at some point (over 40 million military personnel). In addition, military personnel on leave as well as POW’s rode the rails. During this period, railroads committed on average a quarter of their coaches and half their Pullmans to running troop trains ,of which there were about 2500 a month. Some months they carried over a million riders and on some days as many as 100,000 traveled. Many of these trains ran over normally freight-only lines, especially if accessing a military base.

Mansfield, MA

Railroads such as the Pennsylvania and the New Haven committed even more of their equipment because of their strategic locations. Filling an ocean liner in New York or Boston harbor with 13,000 troops involved as many as 21 trains. These might require over 200 coaches, 40+ baggage cars and over 30 kitchen cars.

Troop movements of over 12 hours were assigned Pullman space, if available. Pullmans sometimes slept 30,000 members of the armed services a night. This effort was helped by the fact that Pullman had about 2,000 surplus cars, mostly tourist sleepers, which had been stored instead of scrapped. When extra equipment was required for larger-than-normal troop movements, the government would request removal of sleeping cars from all passenger runs less than 450 miles. This resulted in extra standard sleepers for those times when, for instance, many troops from Europe were being transferred to the Pacific.

In 1943 and again in 1945, the government ordered 1200 troop sleepers from Pullman-Standard and 440 troop kitchen cars from ACF. These designs were based on a 50-foot box car equipped with “full-cushion” trucks capable of 100 mph. The center-door sleepers slept 30 in three-tiered, crosswise bunks. While not up to the same standards as the rest of its equipment, Pullman treated these cars service-wise as if they were the same – linen and bedding changed daily, etc.

To view the original post…..

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Norman Rockwell’s Life on a Troop Train – 

‘Night on a Troop Train’ 5843

 

 

 

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Military Humor – Rockwell’s “Wilbur the Jeep” – 

Uuh…. ?

Uuh… guys…?

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Ronald Addis – Vanderbilt, PA; US Navy, WWII, 3rd Cl. Petty Officer, radioman

Fred Bacot – Mobile, AL; US Navy, WWII

Wreath ceremony, Hawaii

John Bunton – NZ; RNZ Air Force, WWII, 2nd Independent Brigade

Bernard D’Orazio – NYC, NY; USMC

Norman Edwards – Cheboygan, MI; US Navy, WWII / US Coast Guard, Korea & Vietnam

Ralph Johnston – OK; US Army, Korea

Upson Kyte – Akron, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Korea, 11th Airborne Division

John Roberts – Palm Beach Gardens, FL; US Navy, Korea, Medical Corps

Norman Rosenfield – Chelsea, MA; US Army, WWII, PTO

Robert Simpson Jr. – Philadelphia, PA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Ensign

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Click on images to enlarge.

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on October 2, 2017, in Home Front, Korean War, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 48 Comments.

  1. Interesting story. We don’t often think about the immense logistical “tails” involved in going to war.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Was it one of your posts that talked about women meeting trains with sandwiches for the soldiers, G? Peggy and I traveled by Amtrak from Boston to Connecticut last night. I suspect it was a lot more comfortable. 🙂 –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well! I got lost in that train blog. I did find something that really intrigued me:

    “Southern Pacific’s east/west traffic artery in Houston sees frequent military movements since the Port of Beaumont has become an important military port. Recently the ATSF handled heavy traffic out of Beaumont for a international military exercise in New Mexico. SP handles military traffic to and from Ft. Polk, Louisiana and Ft. Bliss in El Paso. Houston’s Barbours Cut container port is also used from time to time to handle military moves.”

    Barbours Cut is almost literally in my back yard — it’s a few miles, but not far. And I often see ATSF trains on lines west of town. I’ll need to look more closely the next time I see what I assume is “just” a long freight.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. One of my old posts was about a WWII Depot here in Ohio. You can check it out at https://gypsyroadtrip.com/tag/dennison/ The soldiers always enjoyed this stop.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Couple of important things I learn: (1) If blog references a WebSite, provide link to it; and (2) Change “notifications” so that whoever reblogs gets a letter from you.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Here is an old post on my website you may enjoy.
    => https://citizentom.com/2010/06/28/north-platte-canteen/

    Had to update some of the links, but it is a great story. Shows America at its best. What a great bunch of people those were.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great article and I love the video! It even had my trains in it!! I know we can’t bring that generation back, but wouldn’t it be great if we could see even a bit of their cohesiveness and American spirit these days?!!

      Liked by 2 people

      • but wouldn’t it be great if we could see even a bit of their cohesiveness and American spirit these days?!!

        It is possible, but making it happen will be a great struggle. I think what the soldiers saw is the love the people in North Platte had for each other. I think those people shared a sense of community we have lost.

        Our nation now consists of large urban areas where few people know their neighbors well. Unlike the people in the small towns from which our nation was built, most of us don’t know our neighbors well. We don’t spend time with. We don’t go to church together. We don’t volunteer in community projects with them. We may send our children to the same schools, but the schools are so large our children may not even play with their children. We don’t know how to come together and give of ourselves to each other and to the people in other communities.

        What will it take? The Holy Spirit and the desire to love. Instead of looking to the government to solve our own problems, each of us will have to want to help our neighbors from out of our own heart and resources.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. FAscinating bit of history!
    I just finished reading Fannie Flagg’s latest novel which focused about the WASPs. Different mode of transporation, of course, but transport in terms of troop support.
    Have you written any posts about the WASPs, WAVES, WAC? You probably have …

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This was another interesting bit of history- thanks! I was just reading my grandpa’s divisional history- they’d thought they were going to the pacific theater, but then the Battle of the Bulge happened and they were shipped by train all the way across the country to sail to the ETO. So much for all of that training for landing on beaches…:)

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Never known trains were used so much by soldiers

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Always interesting reads, wich got me thinking about Carnegie, there is a series called “the men who build America”, and this guy was the one who saw the potential of steel not only for trains but basically his steel was used to build at least most of New York.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Trains and troops, a timeless story all over the world, GP.
    At least since the invention of the train!
    Very interesting indeed.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. This was an amazing report of troop movement. I never thought there were that many resources committed to troop movement. Thanks, GP

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Thank you for posting, GP. An interesting read. I grew up in a town not that far from the sub base in Groton. General Dynamics employed a lot of people in the area.

    “Finally, the engineer came on the radio and with a great deal of patience explained why that female would not be responding to his inquiries.” I can just imagine the conversations around this one!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Reblogged this on KCJones and commented:
    That is a great job of putting that show together!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. A fascinating facet of the war I hadn’t thought about! Thank you for posting this. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I remember reading about the New England Army induction center in Springfield, MA. It was across the street from the railroad station, from which the troop train would leave for South Carolina. I accompanied my daughter and a friend on a photo shoot of the station and the building (sadly we couldn’t get inside) that was used by the Army. I’m not sure if the building is still standing, as it is very close to where MGM is building a large casino.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. During my time in the US Army stationed most of my three years in then-West Germany, most of our travel in country was by military vehicles. One major exception was when we had TDY in West Berlin.

    A West German DB diesel locomotive pulled the US Army Transportation Corps cars to the East German border (Fuerth, I think, is where it took place), where the locomotive was exchanged for a East German Reichsbahn steam engine and the DB crew was exchanged for a Reichsbahn crew.

    Soviet officers met American officers there as well, and they would go over our TDY orders with the US officers and assure that we travellers to West Berlin were authorized. The cars were locked and we military personnel were warned not to take photos or toss things out the windows. I don’t recall any Soviet officers coming through the cars, but we travelled at night, and I probably slept some part of the way to West Berlin.

    Of course, the travel was at night, so photo taking was pretty much unlikely. When the train stopped within the DDR, there were East German guards and dogs patrolling the length of the train, and there were tall fences topped with barbed wire that ran on either side of the tracks as far as one could see. This was the one point in the trip where the reality of the division of German hit strongest, and it reminded one of the oppressive presence of the Soviets in East Germany. I didn’t have that sense at Checkpoint Charlie, oddly, or along the fenced and walled border. I imagine the difference was I stood in freedom, whereas on the train I was in enemy territory in a train that told all who could see “This is full of soldiers of the US Army,” not a good thing to be inside the DDR!

    Other than travelling through East Germany in trains plainly marked as US Army Transportation Corps rolling stock (!), the thing I remember most was rolling past East German apartments close by the tracks and seeing citizens of the DDR in simple activities (reading, eating, talking) and thinking the scenes reminded me of Edward Hopper paintings. Things looked worn and tired compared with the BRD side, where little black-dressed German widows always seemed busy sweeping and washing the streets in front of their homes and the forests looked like people raked them and tidied them up!

    Liked by 5 people

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