|Quarante et huit
Forty and Eights-style covered goods wagon in the U.S. Army Transportation Museum
|Capacity||40 men or 8 horses or 20 tonnes (19.7 long tons; 22.0 short tons) of supplies|
|Operator||French Army and French railways|
|Weight||7.9 tonnes (7.8 long tons; 8.7 short tons) tare|
|Coupling system||Buffers and chain|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in)|
Forty-and-eights (French: Quarante et huit) were French 4-wheel covered goods wagons used as military transport cars. The term refers to the cars' carrying capacity, said to be 40 men or eight horses. Built starting in the 1870s as regular freight boxcars, they were originally used in military service by the French Army in both World Wars.
During the war years the Germans used the cars to ferry troops, prisoners of war, horses, and freight. The Nazis also used them to transport Jews and others they considered "undesirables", who had been rounded up in France and then sent to concentration camps and likely death in the Holocaust. Trains of "Forty-and-eights" were frequent targets of opportunity for Allied fighter-bombers operating over occupied France, because they likely held German troops or supplies; unfortunately sometimes a train of prisoners was indistinguishable from a troop train.
In 1949, France sent 49 of those boxcars to the United States (one for each State then in existence and one for Washington, D.C. and Hawaii to share) laden with various donations from citizens of France, as a gift for the liberation of France. This train was called the Merci Train, and was sent in response to trains full (over 700 boxcars) of supplies known as the American Friendship Train sent by the American people to France in 1947.