United States Army Hospital Trains;

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Published in the Timetable, the newsletter of the Piedmont Division, SERUnited States Army Hospital Trains;A Brief History of American Rail Casualty TransportationBy Michael T. Fleming, MDMilitary transport of the wounded by rail beganon a large scale during the Civil War. Many ofthe battles were fought over the control of railcenters and casualties needed to be removedfrom the areas of combat to more sanitaryand better equipped locations in the rear.The Sanitary Commissions in the north wereeventually able to provide clean dedicated carsfor this service.The cars were mainly box cars and passengercars with minimal modification. One innovationwas the use of rubber slings to support the litters of the wounded to decrease bumping during transport. The trains carried red flags on thecars and the smokestacks of the locomotiveswere painted red to indicate priority handling andto indicate to the enemy thenature of the train.The next major Americanconflict was the SpanishAmerican War. No special carswere built or modified. A singletrain of parlor cars was used.The first real hospital trainwas put together for GeneralJohn J. Pershing’s MexicanExpedition in 1916. The carswere modified wooden parlorWebsite: http://www.piedmont-div.orgcars. Loading doors for litters were cut into thesides.Three additional trains were constructed inMortuary car train leaving Brooklyn Naval Yardthe same manner at the start of the Americaninvolvement in the First World War. The greatestuse of the trains was after the Armistice totransport the sick and wounded returning fromEurope. The port at Hoboken, New Jerseyoriginated 46 trips using 3 trains carrying a totalof 55,200 casualties during a 15 month period.None of the cars or trains remained in service orreserve after 1920.World War IIPlanning for new trains began in 1939. Theinitial phase was the purchase of approximately200 heavyweight parlor carsand Pullmans. Air conditioningwas a requirement. The sidedoors for the receiving spacewere added. The regularpassenger entrance wasblanked off.Most of the cars hadtwo levels of bunks for thewounded. There were Kitchencars and the floor plan on theleft shows a modified Pullman

Published in the Timetable, the newsletter of the Piedmont Division, SERwith a kitchen on one end and anoperating table on the other. This carhad too many functions and few werebuilt.Plans of the hospital ward car shows areceiving area at the baggage doors withstorage. The hospital ward dressing car showsan operating table and sterilizing equipment inthe receiving area. The New York central ad,below, shows the usual arrangement of the trains:Baggage car, Ward dressing car, 2 Ward Cars,Kitchen Car, Ward Dressing Car, 2 Ward Carsand a Pullman for personnel but a train could beas long as seven-teen cars with the addition ofPullmans for the ambulatory wounded.The Heavyweight cars were modified after thewar for Mortuary Service. Families could requestthat remains be returned home after WW II. Ittook two years for ship and train car modificationbefore this could be accomplished. The photobelow shows the cars with the same configurationWebsite: http://www.piedmont-div.orgas in hospital service but with the windowsblanked out and minimal markings. After leavingthe Brooklyn Naval Yard , the train would travelto different cities. Four cars were sent to Atlanta.At least four trips were made from Brooklyn andsimilar movements were made from the westcoast for Pacific casualties. The cars were sold orscrapped after this service.1945 CarsThe majority of the 1945 car order was builtby American Car & Foundry in St. Charles ,Missouri. The cars were of modern round roofconfiguration with riveted sides. The cars hadFormer Hospital Car bought by Ringling Brothers for their circustrain is retired and is on display at the Circus World Museum inBaraboo, Wisconsin.individual kitchens at the brake end. They rodeon 3 axle trucks. The internal configuration issimilar to that of the converted heavyweights butwith three levels of beds in-stead of two. Thebeds could all be folded up.The cars were to carry one doctor, two nursesand four service personnel. Up to 33 patientscould be carried. Planning for these cars startedin 1943 with the expected increased casualtiesfrom Europe in 1944 to be followed in 1945 bythe Pacific casualties. 200 of these cars werebuilt for use in the United States. 100 of thesecars were retained in reserve.The remaining cars were sold to the RinglingBrothers Circus, the Monon Railroad and theAlaska Railroad and others. The majority of the

Published in the Timetable, the newsletter of the Piedmont Division, SERcars were changed in many ways,but almost always their heritageshown through.Dining Cars and KitchensThe medical service had difficulty relyingon the diners of regular trains because theseConrail 24 was used in MOW service . Pro Custom Hobbies makeslaser-cut sides to model this and other versions of Hospital cars.cars were frequently dropped at divisionpoints leaving no food service available. Workprocedures on the diners also did not fit ahospital schedule. The diners were also notequipped for mass feedings that a militarymovement required. New kitchen cars werebuilt in the modern configuration and the troopbox car kitchens after 1943. Individual kitchensin the hospital cars were necessary becausesmall groups of cars would be sent to specialtyhospitals directly in 1943 and thereafter ratherthan to a major receiving hospital as in the earlypart of the war. The combination of kitchencars for large movements and the kitchencompartment in the cars for smaller movementsand special meal service worked well.Korean War CarsThe casualties had all been transported bythe end of 1947, and the military began thedevelopment of a more modern car of weldedconstruction with 2-wheel trucks. The casualtydoors are in the same location but the sidewindows are different. I have not been able tofind an interior diagram, but by the size andshape of the windows on one side it appears thatthere were bathrooms in the middle of the car.Airplane transport of casualties becameincreasingly common and it is uncertain howWebsite: http://www.piedmont-div.orgmuch use these cars had. Several trains ofthe 1945 build were sent to Korea but therewere problems with poor roadbed and minimalclearance in tunnels. Also, hospital trains werenot respected by the North Koreans or Chineseand so artillery riding on flatcars accompaniedthe trains.Final DispositionThere was a hospital train stored serviceablein Fort Gillem in Forest Park, Georgia until theearly eighties but all cars have been scrappedor sold with several being preserved at Fort SamHouston, Ogden and other railroad museums.Modeling the carsThe heavyweight cars can be modeledusing Rivarossi or Walthers cars and cuttingthe casualty doors and modifying the windowconfiguration. Rivarossi made a hospital train 20years ago and it is often still available on eBay.The lettering is quite good, however, the Pullmanand Diner are the only two Rivarossi cars thatare anywhere close to prototypical.The cars were painted standard Armyolive drab, although I have seen variousinterpretations of this color. The prototypepreserved cars appear to have a light Pullmangreen color.The cars in service had a flat color but somepictures show a gloss coat. Some cars have adark tan color. This appears to be from the sixties and it is unknown if all cars were painted thisway. Or this could be what olive drab looks likeafter sitting in the sun and weather for 20-plusyears.Model Railroad Warehouse offers numerouscraftsman type kits and decals for the troopsleepers, kitchen cars and postwar modifications.There is a brass wrap around kit for the 1943hospital car and a plastic craftsman kit for thehospital kitchen.Walthers made kits of the 1945 cars ashospital cars or in Circus modifications until themid 1970s. I have one of these cars and amplanning to use the metal sides as templatesto cut plastic sides for use with E and B Valleycore kits that contain the roof, ends and floor.

Published in the Timetable, the newsletter of the Piedmont Division, SEROverland imported a Brass modelfive years ago. The kitchen carswere made for the troop sleeper trainby Walthers several years ago butare not lettered for hospital service.Laser cut sides are available from Pro CustomHobbies. Conrail car 24 which was used intheir track service train and is one of the sidesmanufactured. You have to call and ask aboutthem. Their phone is (410) 549-9169.The January 2011 Model Railroad Hobbyisthas a very thorough article about building thiscar.One day, I hope to have a hospital train on mylayout but this is a long term project.References & ResourcesModel Railroad military-cars/Pro Custom ustomhobbies.comModel Railroad Hobbyist-January pshotsof-life-aboard-hospital-trains-in-wwi/WW I pictures from different countries.http://railwaysurgery.org/Army2.htmPosed U.S. Army photos of hospital car interiorWebsite: http://www.piedmont-div.org

Published in the Timetable, the newsletter of the Piedmont Division, SERPlans and otherpictures from carconstruction atACF facility in St. Charles, Missouri from a reprint of RailroadMagazine, 1945http://railwaysurgery.org/Army.htm Good general articleabout hospital car and trainshttp://railwaysurgery.org/Army2.htm Reprint of RailroadMagazine about the 1945 carshttp://history.amedd.army.mil/booksdocs/ww alizationevacuation/chapter22.htm Official ArmyMedical History about ambulances and hospital cars inWW ains/and n-inthe-e-t-o-1944-1945/ WW IIhospital trains general articleswith pictures about the European btww2repat.html Impressive Life Magazinephotography of the loading ofWebsite: http://www.piedmont-div.org

Published in the Timetable, the newsletter of the Piedmont Division, SERremains at the Brooklyn Naval terminal and the transport of the cars bybarge.http://www.med-dept.com/veter-Website: s-testimony-theodoreross-willits/ World War II diary and history of asoldier assigned to hospital train 23 in the European theater. Korean War Cars

craftsman type kits and decals for the troop sleepers, kitchen cars and postwar modifications. There is a brass wrap around kit for the 1943 hospital car and a plastic craftsman kit for the hospital kitchen. Walthers made kits of the 1945 cars as hospital cars or in Circus modifications until the mid 1970s. I have one of these cars and am

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