July 30, 1918 – Hommes-40, Chevaux-8

On this day in 1918, Jay, Unit A and the 301st Engineers crammed themselves into French boxcars which would carry them across France, closer to the front.  The cars carried a placard, ‘Hommes-40, Chevaus-8’ (40 men or 8 horses).  Not sure the officers had it much better.



The next afternoon (30th) the regiment, minus Company “F,” left the camp and marched again through the city to the railroad station to be introduced to the French system of troop transportation, notably “Hommes-40, Chevaux-8 (en long).”  Men were squeezed into the box-like cars and travel rations were issued to each car according to the number of men  The officers were crowded into second-class carriages which had evidently seen much service and could easily be found in the dark by merely “following one’s nose.”  With the tootings of many shrill whistles and wild gesticulations of the train guards, the long train bumped and jerked outside the yards. After a run of perhaps ten kilometers, one of the cars developed a hot box.  This must be an occurrence of grave importance, for the whole train crew assembled in the vicinity of the unfortunate car and evidently discussed the best way of cutting it out.  After a half-hour of discussion and songs, some method was approved, and once more the train bumped and jerked and went forward, and by midnight everything was ready again and the journey was continued.

– The Three Hundred and First Engineers – A History 1917-1920




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