Memories Vietnamese railway


Mi General
MI.Net Member
Jul 10, 2016
I saw a pic here of German soldiers on a train that triggered a memory from back in the day. First tour in northern I Corps, trains still ran. Narrow gauge French engines with a shrill whistle that could he heard for a long distance. No air brakes - there were actual brakemen who ran along tops of the cars turning brake wheels to apply or release brakes as indicated by whistle signals from the engr.

The trains were usually 7 or 8 cars, nearly all with military cargo. Occasionally would be seen a passenger car filled to overflowing with passengers and their baggage which most often consisted of produce and/or animals enroute a market.

Ducks, geese, chickens and pigs were carried onboard. If the coach was entirely filled, overflow passengers often found a seat on the roof. Since the trains mostly benefitted the military, the enemy conducted operations against them - first by mining the track. This was countered by shoving cars ahead of the engine to detonate the mines.

Of course, the next logical step was command-detonated mines. The explosion was followed by an assault.

The cars preceding the engine were then manned by heavily armed troops. At times when we were near RR bridges or the track, we could see trains roll slowly past with soldiers on the lead cars. I always felt if you looked up the word 'nervous' in your dictionary, there would be an image of those soldiers.

The word 'if' didn't exist in their vocabulary - it was replaced by 'when and how bad.'

The trains must have all been destroyed. A steam engine's boiler won't fare well against an RPG. And at some point, it was decided rebuilding bridges and sections of track simply wasn't worth the effort.

Second tour I never saw one again.
Were they something like this mate
I recall them being smaller, but I can't brag how well my memory works. Da Lat got hit hard during Tet - I'm surprised this survived.