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US Army Hospital Trains
9th Hospital Center

Looking for more information from military/civilian personnel assigned to or associated with the U.S. Army in Germany from 1945 to 1989. If you have any stories or thoughts on the subject, please contact me.


Hospital Trains

57th Med Bn

Newspaper articles



 
US Army Hospital Trains
 
1946
(Source: Mike Keefe)

Hosp Train, 1946
  Click here for a very nice article on WW2 Hospital Trains in the ETO (WW2 US Medical Research Centre).

Several of the US Army hospital trains that served during WW2 in the European Theater remained in Germany as part of the Army of Occupation.


 
(Source: Email from Oliver C. Greenup)
Can you tell me anything concerning the 80th Hospital Train Unit. We were stationed in the Hauptbahnhof and the Ostbahnhof, circa 1945-1948, at Frankfurt. We traveled all over the ETO picking up the sick and wounded, and transporting them to Bremerhaven to the hospital ship. We lived and worked on the train, and we were attached administratively for food rations and supplies to the 97th General Hospital in Frankfurt. I left Frankfurt in Dec 1948.

By all means, feel free to post my e-mail on your web-site. I would like to use any means to contact some of my old buddies from the 80th Hospital Train Unit. I am sure that some of the older ones are no longer with us, and that is so sad. I have tried for years (I had an ad in a 2003 issue of American Legion magazine re: the 80th HTU), to no avail, to locate our first sergeant, 1st Sgt Theodore Elkis from Athens, Ga., and also our commanding officer, Maj Herbert Hoff, who was both a medical doctor and a phychiatrist from New York City.

 
1953
(Source: STARS & STRIPES, March 6, 1953)
325th Hospital Train

In early March 1953, the 325th Hosp Train, a seven-car unit attached to the 57th Med Bn and stationed at Landstuhl, completed its first run to evacuate patients from the Com Z to the 320th Gen Hosp at Landstuhl. The train is made up of five ward cars (these are new, specifically designed sleeping cars), a baggage car and a diner and is equipped to carry a maximum of 336 litter patients or 448 ambulatory pastients. The crew consists of 36 military and civilian (German and French) personnel, including a train commander (a 2nd Lt.), a chief nurse (a Capt) and eight cooks.

On its route between Landstuhl, Germany and Bordeaux, France, and back, the 325th Hosp Train stops at scheduled points in the Com Z to pick up or drop off patients. The train is scheduled to make this trip approximately every two weeks. On its first run, the evacuation train picked up patients at Bordeaux, La Rochelle, Paris and Fontainebleau, France. After arriving back in Landstuhl, the patients were picked up by ambulances and transported to the 320th GH where they would undergo further examinations and observation. From there they might be evacuated by air to the US or sent to other Army hospitals in Europe.

Another train, the 37th Hosp Train, is a two-car Diesel train that evacuates every Thursday patients from the 320th GH to the 97th GH in Frankfurt. Every Tuesday, this train makes a run to Verdun, France.

 
(Source: STATION LIST, August 15 1953)
US Army Hospital Trains in Germany (1953):

UNIT DESIGNATION

LOCATION COMMENTS
31st Med Train (Amb Rail) Hoechst  
34th Med Train (Amb Rail) Hoechst  
37th Med Train (Amb Rail) Rhine Medical Depot  
325th Med Train (Amb Rail) Rhine Medical Depot  
329th Med Train (Amb Rail) Bad Cannstatt  
The 80th Med Train (Amb Rail) was not listed in the SL for Aug 1953

 
(Source: STARS & STRIPES, Jan 21, 1954)
The 80th Hosp Train (based at Orleans, France) completed its first run -- a 110-mile trip from the US Army Hospital at La Rochelle to La Chapelle-St. Mesmin. Train CO of the 6-car train was Lt Col Gerard A. Bertrandt. Maximum capacity of the six-car train is 252 litter patients or 336 ambulatory patients or a combination of the two.

The 80th Hosp Train arrived in Com Z in Dec of last year to replace an older hosp train. The capacity of the cars on the new train (13 triple-tiered bunks) is greater than that of the older cars (8 double-tiered bunks). Each of the new cars has its own heating and utilities equipment, whereas the older train had to carry an extra utility car.

Five of the train's six cars contain modern pharmaceutical and kitchen equipment, the sixth car is designed to handle neuropsychiatric patients.

Present plans call for the train to make two runs each month to La Rochelle or wherever it is needed.

 
(Source: STATION LIST, June 15 1954)
US Army Hospital Trains in Europe (1954):

UNIT DESIGNATION

LOCATION COMMENTS
31st Med Train (Amb Rail)    
34th Med Train (Amb Rail)    
37th Med Train (Amb Rail)    
80th Med Train (Amb Rail) La Chapelle, France  
325th Med Train (Amb Rail) Rhine Medical Depot This was probably a National Guard or Army Reserve unit; possibly redes 22nd Med Train (Amb Rail)
329th Med Train (Amb Rail)   This was probably a National Guard or Army Reserve unit; possibly redes 66th Med Train (Amb Rail)

 
(Source: Email from Chet Zarubnicky, 34th Hosp Train, 1954-55)
I just came upon your website and was really surprised. I was assigned to the 34th Hospital Train from January 1954 to February 1955.

The 34th Hospital Train was part of the 57th Medical Battalion and we were stationed at the McNair Barracks in Hoechst, Germany. Our mission was to transport patients from Munich back to Frankfurt. We started out on a Monday morning and stopped at all the stations where we would pick up patients on our way back from Munich. We would stay in Munich on Monday night and then start by loading up patients at Munich on Tuesday morning and make our way back to Frankfurt.

We operated a two car diesel -- one car was for stretchers and the other car was for ambulatory patients and our crew. We also had a kitchen where our cook prepared meals for our patients while they were onboard.

The trains were kept about a mile from our barracks at McNair Kaserne in Hoechst.They were kept on a siding there.This was the two car diesel. The picture you had posted of the train is exactly what our train looked like.

I have been in touch with a few of  the men when I wrote an ad that was placed in the American Legion magazine. At first they responded then they gradually dropped off. I still talk to one man from Tennessee every so often, but after 50 years what can we actually talk about?

(Source: STATION LIST, Dec 13 1954)
The 329th Hosp Train completed its first run (a one-car diesel engine) to Munich in Dec 1954. The 329th is responsible for medical evacuation of patients for primary hospitalization and consultation services in the Southern Area Command area. The hospital train is designed to augment ambulance runs from Straubing Sub-Area dispensaries to the Army hospital in Munich and from the Hohenfels Sub-Area dispensary to the Army hospital at Nuernberg.

The train is scheduled to depart from Fuerth on Thursdays at 8 am and arrive in Munich at 1:52 pm. For the return trip (patients released from the Army hospital on their way back to their units), the train departs from Munich on Fridays at 3:05 pm each week.

The 329th is commanded by Maj Joseph C. Ziesenheim. The hospital train is staffed by a nurse and six enlisted technicians. The train has a capacity of 12 litter and 6 amubulatory patients. It has the facilities to serve a hot meal during the trip.

Dependent patients who go to Munich for consultation are billeted at the Columbia and Excelsior Hotels.

 
(Source: STATION LIST, Dec 31 1955)
US Army Hospital Trains in Europe (1955):

UNIT DESIGNATION

LOCATION COMMENTS
22nd Med Train (Amb Rail) Einsiedlerhof att 57th Med Bn
31st Med Train (Amb Rail) Münchweiler att 57th Med Bn
34th Med Train (Amb Rail) Neubrücke att 57th Med Bn
37th Med Train (Amb Rail) Einsiedlerhof att 57th Med Bn
66th Med Train (Amb Rail) Nürnberg att 57th Med Bn
80th Med Train (Amb Rail) La Chapelle, France  

 
1956
(Source: STARS & STRIPES, Sept 15, 1956)
The Army's Hospital Trains

By Jack Walters, Staff Writer

Ever since the war, there have been U.S. Army ambulance trains in West Germany and part of France. The 57th Med Bn, commanded by Maj. B.A. Petrini, operates five such trains under the administration of the USAREUR Chief Surgeon, Maj Gen Alvin L. Gorby.

On a roundtrip basis, these rolling dispensaries transport about 400 patients a month. The trains (one steam and four diesel) run between Nürnberg, Munich, Neubrücke, Münchweiler and Verdun. Main junction is Landstuhl, where the Army's 2d Gen Hosp is located, the largest outside the U.S.

The steam train includes six ward cars, a diner and a coach for staff personnel.

The diesels are two-car jobs containing galleys and pharmacies and are equipped to handle any kind of patient, from those requiring an incubator to an iron lung.
  The 57th is soon hoping to get new diesels which will cost $250,000 apiece and will be capable of traveling 100 mph, although except for extreme emergencies, the amublance trains travel slower than ordinary passenger or freight rail service. The longest run, from Munich to Neubrücke, takes 11 hours.

The present diesels carry medical crews consisting of 15 EM, one nurse and an officer acting as train commander.

The trains are operated by German personnel and are rented from the German Federal railroads. Maintenance is provided under contract.
These ambulance units, designed primarily for servicemen, also on occasion handle dependents and American tourists requiring immediate attention. The organization's safety record is excellent, officials said.

The 57th Med Bn is the only one of its kind in Europe operating not only ambulance trains, but the more common four-wheel variety, plus helicopters.

(Source: Email from Jim Gibson, 34th Hospital Train, Frankfurt-Hoechst, later Neubrücke)
I was with the 34th Hospital Train from March 1955 to April 1956. The 2-Car Diesel hospital train used by the 34th was made in Germany. And by the way, a General in Heidelberg had a 2-Car Diesel just like ours without the Red Cross on top.

While stationed in Hoechst, the 34th operated a weekly hospital train that left Hoechst Monday morning for a trip to Munich, Germany (I believe we went through Stuttgart on the way down and back). We would stay there over night and start our return trip back to Hoechst Tuesday morning picking up patients along the way for tranfer to other hospitals.

After the unit tranferred to the 98th General Hospital in Neubrücke, late May or June 1955, our route was from Neubrücke to Nürnberg and back.

34th HospTrain
Fr.-Hoechst

 

1. Jim Gibson, guard shack, McNair Ksn (KB)

2. Mess Hall (KB)

3. Baseball diamond (KB)
 

4.
Game (KB)

5.
Ambulance cars used while unit was at Hoechst (KB)

6. End of a busy day
(KB)
 

7.
Inside an ambulance car (KB)

8. SGT Lively watches the scenery go by
(KB)
   

34th Hosp Train
Neubrücke

 

1.
Neubrücke to Nürnberg run (KB)

2.
German train engineers and PFC Hofmeister (KB)

3.
One of the stops between Neubrücke and Nürnberg (KB)
 

4.
Meals for the patients are prepared on the train (KB)

5.
A 34th Hosp Train nurse (KB)

6.
Top Notch Special Service Club (KB)
 

7.
(KB)

8.
NCO's of the 34th (KB)

9.
NCO's of the 34th (KB)
 

10.
(KB)

11.
(KB)

12.
(KB)
 

13.
(KB)


 

(Source Email from Chet Zarubnicky, 34th Hosp Train, 1954-55)
I was assigned to the 34th Hospital Train from January 1954 until February 1955 and yesterday I thought I would go into your website to see if anything was new.

The pictures sent in by Jim Gibson brought back many memories. I recognized Jerry Thornton in picture number 7. In picture number 8 I recognized Jesse Lively with Jerry Thornton Picture number 8 shows the 2 German engineers -- the shorter of the 2 was Paul who was the engineer on our two car diesel. Pictured in picture number 8 from left to right are Hank Sauer, Dick Zehender, our first sergeant Robert Rogers and Sgt Dalzell. Picture number 9 shows from left to right -- Bill Jones, Jesse Lively and Sgt. Day.

Your website was the only one I came across that even knew anything about hospital trains. When I finished basic at Camp Pickett, Va. I was on orders for Korea, but the week we finished they signed the peace treaty and I was sent to medic school at Fort Sam Houston,Tx, then I did my practical training at Valley Forge, Pa.

Then I was sent to Germany and assigned to the 34th Hospital Train in Hoechst. We were quartered in old German Police barracks and we were with the 31st Hospital Train, an ambulance company and the headquarters company. We were under the 57th Bn.

Our mission was to transport injured soldiers from Munich to Frankfurt or any hospital that was between Munich and Frankfurt.We used a 2 car diesel -- one car for litters and the other was for ambulatory patients. We also had a kitchen where we provided meals for the patients. Since the stretchers would not go through the doors of the train we had to load and unload patients through the window of the train. These things still stick in my mind and it has been 55 years ago, but seems like yesterday and seeing the picture you had posted made it more enjoyable.

Do you have an email address of Jim who submitted those pictures? He must have came there after I left since I left there in February 1955. Looking forward to hearing from you and if I can help you with anything else I would be happy to help.

1958
(Source: USAREUR Medical Bulletin, Feb 1959)
The Abulance Train

By Lieutenant Stella G. Bryant, ANC (*)
 
During the first three months of 1958, 275 patients were evacuated by the 22nd and 37th Ambulance Trains on 18 runs covering a total of 9000 miles. Of the total number of patients who were evacuated, 40 were neuropsychiatric open and closed ward patients, 125 were medical, and 110 were surgical. With respect to type of nursing care required, most of the patients were classified as Category III; Category IV accounted for the next highest number; Category II the next; and 20 patients were designated Category I. During this period we had two seriously ill patients and no premature babies.

Although our peacetime operation is on a much smaller scale than it would be in time of war, when we operate as a line outfit, these runs are made to evacuate patients from the Class II installations to Frankfurt for further evacuation to CONUS, and to move patients from the field and station hospitals to the specialized treatment facilities in Europe. Such runs provide an excellent medium for on-the-job training for personnel.

The impetus which sets an evacuation trip in motion emanates from the USAREUR Medical Regulating Agency, which is located at the Landstuhl Army Medical Center. The train unit is notified each week of the train runs scheduled for the following week through the 57th Medical Battalion, which is also the headquarters for two other train companies, two ambulance companies, and one helicopter ambulance company.

EQUIPMENT AND SUPPLY

The two-car diesel train, which can be operated from either end, provides comfortable seating space for 22 ambulatory patients. It also is equipped with 22 stationary litters that have wide, foam rubber mattresses. There is a small but well-equipped kitchen, sufficient storage space for linen, medical supplies and special equipment, and adequate latrine facilities. Each train company also has a steam train which can be easily altered to accommodate the varying numbers and types of patients designated on the operational breakdown. The steam train also has a dining car and a personnel car.

A minimum supply level has been established. By way of training, the technicians are made responsible to maintain this level. We can handle most emergencies since we carry oxygen, suction equipment, emergency drugs, and intravenous fluids, as well as some of the common standard drugs. Special equipment and drugs necessary to provide continuous nursing care are supplied by the entraining facility. It is the policy, however, to detrain a patient at the nearest hospital facility if an emergency arises that cannot be handled on the train.

Patients are fed field A rations, and special diets are usually provided by the entraining facility. If, however, special diets are not provided, they are arranged from our food supplies. This is then recorded on the operational train report and the entraining hospital is informed. Since experience has taught us that there is frequently a considerable delay at an outpatient service or admission office between departure from the train and arrival at a hospital, every effort is made to feed patients before they are detrained.

PERSONNEL COMPLEMENT

According to the TO&E, there are 30 enlisted men assigned to each train company, 15 of whom have medical MOS's. The train nurse is the professional officer aboard the ambulance train, while an MSC officer fills the dual role of train and company commander. All personnel are assigned to on-the-job training by the commander. Six medical technicians are assigned to care for a varying patient load of from six to twenty patients. As is the case in many line outfits, the mature qualified men, regardless of their MOS, are assigned to responsible positions in supply, the motor pool, and the orderly room. One NCO is assigned as wardmaster to assist with professional requirements. Another is assigned as train NCO to supervise administrative details.

In order to standardize nursing service aboard ambulance trains, the 57th Medical Battalion has recently established the position of nursing consultant . Additionally, we are presently endeavoring to designate certain emergency conditions which should require a Medical Corps officer to be in attendance so that the train nurse could be supported in her judgment and decision to render interim treatment. Such emergencies might be the result of circulatory collapse, respiratory failure, diabetic coma, or shock as a result of a delayed reaction to sedation which is sometimes seen in acutely ill neuropsychiatric patients.

ADMINISTRATIVE DETAIL

The accomplishment of maximum continuity and coordination in any endeavor in the Army is enhanced by the use of the "SOP" (Standing Operating Procedure). Our battalion headquarters has therefore published such a document for ambulance train evacuation. Similarly, an activities list and orientation information have been prepared for the relief nurse.

The nursing service assignment sheet with duty lists has been adapted for use aboard the ambulance train. This has provided a more organized plan of nursing care, pointed out weaknesses and indicated additional training needs. After patients are entrained, the diagnosis and individual patient care needs are related to medical personnel. Charts are carefully checked for further information relating to definitive patient care.. This is one means by which technicians are trained to adapt care according to patient needs.

Standing operating procedure for isolation technique has also been adapted for use on the train. On the two diesel trains, facilities are provided for evacuating only two patients with communicable disease and then only when they are of the same sex and/or have the same disease. With more than two patients -- something which seems to be happening more and more frequently -- good or even adequate technique is most difficult to maintain. Discard gown technique is used, masks are worn, and hand washing is emphasized.

TRAINING OPPORTUNITY

Ambulance train duty can provide a real challenge to the nurse interested in training. The assigned enlisted personnel have on-the-job training with actual patient contact for only one-half of the standard 40-hour week. The remainder of the time must be carefully planned and fully utilized lest the men become bored and lethargic, thus weakening esprit de corps. Strong leadership, along with qualification and proficiency training can stimulate real interest, enthusiasm and motivation for good inter-personal relationships effecting in turn better patient care. Since August 1957, five men in our unit have completed qualification training for the 911.10 MOS. Proficiency training has been recommended and requested.

During the time that there are no patients aboard the train, classes are conducted in patient care procedures with demonstration and practice. In addition, two hours of instruction each week are given in the classroom -- one hour in Emergency Medical Treatment and one hour in Medical Technical Training. Participants for the most part are active and eager, although company details preclude a full attendance at the classes. Because their past experience and training may have been limited, the men appreciate the opportunity to acquire new knowledge; their application of the newly acquired knowledge has resulted in better patient care. Since our TO&E does not call for qualified neuropsychiatric technicians, training in the care of the neuropsychiatric patient has been given with emphasis placed upon the development of appropriate attitudes. Care of open and closed ward patients by untrained personnel greatly increases the responsibility for these patients, especially since ambulance train facilities differ greatly from those provided in hospitals. As a result of the training, our technicians have become more secure and thus more willing to share responsibility for the care of this type of patient.

Because all types of patients are confined to a small area, it is necessary that personnel be well qualified to provide varied types of care. Our responsibility does not end, however, with attention to the physical needs of our patients. Emotional needs too must be observed and attended. An emotional upset frequently coincides with transfer from one hospital

to another-especially if there has been little or no orientation. Therefore, appropriate explanations are given, and the personnel spend much time in an effort to assuage fears and re-establish confidence and a sense of well being in the patients.

CONCLUSION

A high standard of patient care is the result of not only well qualified personnel, but effective interpersonal relationships on the patient care team. It is the aim of our patient care team to provide continuous service following the nursing care plan established when the patient first entered the hospital. Although the train is correctly called "Ambulance Train," hospital procedures have been modified and adapted to the facilities available so that patient care requirements are satisfied just as they would be on the hospital ward. Training in nursing care procedures is a continuous process to equip the personnel to render the highest quality of patient care.

 
(*) Formerly Train Nurse, 37th Ambulance Train (Rail), APO227, US Forces.

This paper was presented at the USAREUR Chief Nurse's Conference held in Heidelberg, May 1958.

1959
(Source: USAREUR Medical Bulletin, Oct 1959)
Borrowing a page from the traditions of the American postman, the US Army Medical Service has its counter part in the ambulance train operational fleet of the 57th Medical Battalion in Germany. These trains form the backbone of a highly modernized medical evacuation system and of all the means -- land. sea and air -- they are probably the least appreciated.

An ambulance train is a normal TO&E unit and has as its assigned equipment a ten-car completely integrated rail unit. A train such as this is usually referred to as a "steam consist" though the term in itself is slightly misleading. Any type traction device -- steam, electric or diesel -- is capable of furnishing motive power for an ambulance train. Locomotives are not part of the unit but are procured from the US Army Transportation Corps upon request. The train consists of six ward cars, a diner, two personnel cars and a utility car. The latter piece of equipment will furnish heat, electricity and water to the entire "consist" to either a moving or static situation.

In addition, all ambulance rail units in Germany are equipped with a two-car, self-propelled diesel which in reality is a condensed version of the large steam train. It duplicates all the elements of the larger unit coupled with the additional advantage of an internal power source. Control cabins at either end give it a versatility for traveling in either direction without switching and its small size lends itself admirably to operation in small areas with limited trackage. This "medical diesel" is divided into ambulatory and litter sections. It has the refinements of separate isolation compartments, a compact kitchen, air conditioning, airplane-type passenger seats, foam rubber litter berths, and multiple other conveniences all directed at the comfort of the patient. Medical troops manning the diesel trains generally label them as the "Cadillacs" in contrast to the "steam consists" whose size, not facility, give them the impression of trucks.

Both trains are employed on a regularly scheduled basis. Operating over a weather impervious steel web (the German and French rail systems), they are the strongest binding agent of the USAREUR hospital complex and, as such, contribute in no small measure to the finest military medical service in the world.

The train complement is divided into an administrative section and a professional section. The train commander, a Medical Service Corps officer, heads the administrative section and is responsible for all non-patient activities attendant to the operation of the unit. He directs the administration, maintenance, operation and food service activities aboard. He also exercises command supervision over all personnel. The train nurse and her assigned staff are responsible for the professional care of patients. German engineers round out the balanced team (figure 3).

A documentary of a typical operational run is shown in the following two pages. The unit shown (figure 9) is the 34th Ambulance Train employing its diesel on the Neubrucke-Munich rail path. The run depicted starts with the on-loading of patients at the unit's stabling area near the 98th General Hospital at Neubrucke (figure 2), one of three specialty treatment centers where patients are received for transfer to the 97th General Hospital, Frankfurt, another specialty center and the pre-embarkation holding facility for all off-continent air evacuation. Enroute to Frankfurt, the train calls at the 14th Field Hospital at Bad Kreuznach, again receiving patients for the 97th General Hospital. At Frankfurt the train is met by motor ambulance convoy (figure 1). Once the transfer is effected at Frankfurt, the patient-carrying mission of the outgoing trip is ended and the train makes a "deadhead" run to Munich.
On occasion convalescent patients may be entrained for delivery to their home station along the route to Munich. Stops will be made at Heidelberg, Stuttgart and Augsburg. Opportunity evacuations may occur, but normally these stations express little attention to the train until it inaugurates its incoming route on the following day.

A "deadhead" run opens a new phase of routine for the crew. First the train is refurbished, all preparations for transport of new patients are completed, and then the inservice training program is initiated. Nursing care aboard is unlike the similar activity in a fixed hospital. It calls for different applications of the same techniques. Movement, space and equipment all have their influence and special understandings must be shared by the medical personnel. Training in these peculiarities is the prime objective of the program. An ambulance train, like a crew-served weapon, demands team proficiency, but unlike such a weapon, each patient presents different challenges. Figure 4 depicts the nurse instructor demonstrating the use of a Wangensteen suctioning apparatus, while the application of isolation technique is shown in figure 5. Classes continue until arrival at the eastern terminus in Munich.

Early the next morning the train starts its return trip to Neubrucke. Hospitals along the route are alerted. The patients who will be boarded are transferees for distribution to the speciality centers. They will range from a newborn infant starting lift in an atmosphere of oxygen (figure 6) to a tank commander whose cast-enclosed legs are mute evidence of a training accident. There is no relaxation of their care or comfort while in transient status. Food from the well appointed kitchen (figure 7) is of the same standard as in any hospital. Special diets (figure 8) are easily prepared and supplements are always available.

After entraining patients at Munich, Augsburg, Stuttgart, and Heidelberg, the train enters its final phase of the run. On arrival at Landstuhl the procedures are reversed and detraining activities are accomplished. The patients slated for the 2d General Hospital are off-loaded; those remaining are off-loaded at the 98th General Hospital.

As the 34th Ambulance Train closes her operational run, a sister unit based elsewhere in USAREUR begins her run, thereby assuring continuity of the medical evacuation by rail.

In this 1200-kilometer, 22-hour journey from Neubrucke to Munich and return, one gains a stimulating insight of the mission of medical evacuation, and learns the intricacies attendant to the professional care of traveling patients. One can measure the problems of scheduling and timing, as they are joined with the technical factors of rail operations, and the interdependence of all evacuation means. It is not without understanding that train units, whose roots are deep in the railroading traditions of our country, take especial pride in their incomparable and consistent performance without regard to "wind, snow, rain or sleet."

Story: Pic .John A. Williams, Jr., 57th Medical Battalion, APO 188, US Forces.
Photographs: Photo Section of the 28th Med Det (Illus), APO 188, US Forces.


1970
(Source: STARS & STRIPES, March 23, 1970)

The B&F Railroad

The B&F .... Back and Forth .... Railroad is a nickname for the 2-car diesel ambulance trains operated by the 31st Medical Group. "Back and forth" for the control cabins at both ends of the trains that give the trains the ability to change directions without switching.

There are 4 two-car ambulance trains in service in Germany today:
31st Medical Ambulance Train (Rail), USAH Muenchweiler (TOE 08-520GE01)
34th Medical Ambulance Train (Rail), USAH Neubruecke (TOE 08-520GE01)

37th Medical Ambulance Train (Rail), USAH Muenchweiler (TOE 08-520GE02)
80th Medical Ambulance Train (Rail), USAH Neubruecke (TOE 08-520GE02)

Each two-car diesel train has a ten-car steam train for emergency backup service.


Each two-car train is staffed with a crew of 8 American military personnel (a train commander; a nurse; a wardmaster; two ward assistants; three medical service attendants) and 3 German Bundesbahn employees (two engineers and one electrician). Each two-car train has facilities to handle 22 litter patients and (21) ambulatory patients. Each train includes an isolation compartment -- some of the patients are being transported for psychiatric treatment.

CO of the 31st and 37th Amb Trains is 2nd Lt Peter Trembley; CO of the 34th and 80th Amb Trains is 2nd Lt Austin D. Edwards.

The German-built diesel and steam trains were acquired by the US Army in the 1950s and ran (primarily the diesel trains) on a daily basis between many major troop areas in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Today, a two-car diesel runs each Tuesday between Neubruecke (98th General Hospital) or Muenchweiler (34th General Hospital) to Nuernberg, returning on Wednesday.
A Saturday run is made between Neubruecke or Muenchweiler and Frankfurt a.M. (The Neubruecke trains alternate every other week with the Muenchweiler trains.)

The Tuesday run stops first at Landstuhl (Army Medical Center); makes a 40-minute refueling stop at Heidelberg (130th General Hospital); then heads for Frankfurt (97th General Hospital); next stops at Wuerzburg (33rd Field Hospital) to take on water; and then makes the last leg to Nuernberg (20th Station Hospital). After an overnight stay at Nuernberg, the train makes the return trip along the same route back to the home station, Muenchweiler or Neubruecke. Typically, the Tuesday run handles an average of 20-25 patients. The shorter Saturday run averages from 12 to 15 patients.

The stop at Frankfurt is at the Frankfurt-Bonames siding; the stop at Wuerzburg is at the Aumuehle siding.

(Webmaster Note: in reading the above article, I believe I have determined that 80th Amb Train used the diesel VT 08 train numbered "608-803". Can anybody confirm this? And if correct, does anybody know which VT 08's were used for the three other ambulance train units? And if we really want to get crazy, who knows more about the steam trains??? )


 
Related Links:
  Die Baureihe 608 - in German - a page on US Army VT 08 series diesel trains hosted on the German lokfoto.de website; several nice photos include VT 08-805 ambulance train at the Heidelberg train station in 1966 and The General (VS 08-801) in the 1970s and 80s.