Open main menu

Forty-and-eights (French: Quarante et huit, typically written 40/8 or 40&8) were French 4-wheel covered goods wagons designed to hold 40 men or eight horses. Introduced in the 1870s, they were drafted into military service by the French Army in both World Wars. They were also used by the occupying Germans during in World War II, followed by the Allies.

Quarante et huit
40and8s style boxcar.JPG
Forty and Eights-style covered goods wagon in the U.S. Army Transportation Museum
Capacity40 men or 8 horses or 20 tonnes (19.7 long tons; 22.0 short tons) of supplies
Operator(s)French Army and French railways
Weight7.9 tonnes (7.8 long tons; 8.7 short tons) tare
Braking system(s)Air
Coupling systemBuffers and chain
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)


During World War IIEdit

British soldiers on board a quarante et huit wagon in France in 1939. The stencilled sign in the top right of the picture says "HOMMES 40 : CHEVAUX (en long) 8". The shared experience among Allied soldiers spawned groups such as the Forty and Eight veterans organization.

Between 1940 and 1944 occupying German forces used Forty-and-eights to transport troops, POWs, horses, freight, and civilian prisoners to concentration camps.

Following the Allied landing at Normandy in June, 1944, the Germans were pushed eastward towards the Rhine. Trains of Forty-and-eights were frequent targets of opportunity for Allied fighter-bombers, with carloads of prisoners occasionally being victimized. As France was liberated Forty-and-eights were used to transport Allied soldiers and materials to the shifting front through War's end in 1945.

Merci TrainEdit

In 1949, France sent 49 Forty-and-eights to the United States laden with donations from citizens of France in thanks for the U.S.' role in the liberation of France, one for each of the then forty-eight states and one for Washington, D.C., and Hawaii to share. Called the Merci Train, it was sent in response to the Friendship Train America had created two years earlier to aid France in the dire immediate aftermath of World War II. Over 700 boxcars worth of donated supplies were collected across the U.S. and shipped across the Atlantic via donated transport.

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit