A Different Track
Hospital Trains of the Second World War
About the Book
This fascinating book looks at the largely unknown history of hospital trains, which wound their way across the scarred landscapes of war-weary Europe, and the doctors and nurses who risked their lives treating patients from all sides of the conflict.
Railroads played an integral role in the Second World War. Trains brought food, munitions, and essential supplies. They transported troops. They were a means of escape for those fleeing persecution. At the same, they were used to transport innocent people to their deaths. Yet there was one kind of train that improved the chances of survival every time they rolled through the battle-worn towns and cities of the European theatre of war.
Hospital trains were not a new concept in the Second World War, but their use was instrumental in this most deadly conflict of the twentieth century. Regular passenger trains were converted into mobile emergency wards tending to the critically wounded. It was an elegant solution, as train cars could be refitted with tier beds, and supplies could be easily transported along with medical staff.
A Different Track introduces readers to the world of hospital trains of the Second World War. From the nurses who ran them to the factories that manufactured them, this book looks at how these trains quietly altered the fortunes of the world. From Canada’s contributions to the role of women who both healed the sick and built the trains, this is a fascinating look at one of the hidden nuggets of history.
—Patricia W. Sewell (Collier), editor of Healers in World War ll: Oral Histories of Medical Corps Personnel
—Christian Wolmar, author of Engines of War and The Liberation Line
—Marion McKinnon Crook, award-winning author of Always Pack a Candle: A Nurse in the Cariboo-Chilcotin
—Terry Copp, author of Fields of Fire: The Canadians in Normandy
—Amy Shaw, co-editor of Making the Best of It: Women and Girls of Canada and Newfoundland during the Second World War
—Jacqueline L. Carmichael, author of Heard Amid the Guns: True Stories from the Western Front, 1914–1918