Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Trains Go To War: An overview

Magazine produces special issue featuring train stories from World War II, World War I, the American Civil War, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War
To order, Trains Go To War, visit:

Video Transcription courtesy of YouTube.

[ROB MCGONIGAL] Hello there, I'm Rob McGonigal, editor of Classic Trains magazine and we're here to talk about our latest special edition, Trains Go To War.

There's the cover right there. That covers railroads and wartime activity and all the major conflicts the U.S. was involved in and between the Civil War and Vietnam.

About two-thirds of it is about World War II and that's why we're doing this today because today is the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Probably the most important day in the most important war.

So, we're happy to talk about the issue and answer any questions you might have.

[NARRATOR] For everyone who's listening online, this is Steve and I'm just helping Rob off-camera.

Rob, we wanted to start off quickly by just talking about some of the some of the sort of the highlights of the magazine. It's a special issue, how many pages is it?

[MCGONIGAL] 108 pages. It's oversize, trim size, nice paper, it's composed of articles that originally ran in Trains and Classic Trains magazines in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, going way back. And they're all redesigned and we've got about 14 articles and eight of them were about World War II. And the first one in the World War II section is by our old friend Gil Reid, the late Gil Reid, who was a noted railroad artist and he worked for Kalmbach as an illustrator for many years.

And, during World War II he was a lieutenant in the [U.S.] Army first in North Africa then then Italy and he did a great story for the February 1945 issue of Trains that talked about his experiences and the military railway service in Italy, illustrated with his own inimitable artwork.

[Narrator] Rob if you could just talk a little bit about this Gil Reid article. If you want just open [it] up and show everyone very quickly here.

[MCGONIGAL] Yeah that's the beginning of it. Military railway service in Italy with a Gil Reid pen-and-ink drawing and it just pretty much describes the scene of devastation basically in Italy when the Allies were there interspersed with the artwork from Gil.

We have some photos of damaged rail facilities that the Allies found as they displaced the Germans, [who] did a pretty good job of wrecking the facilities as they retreated ... there's one pair of photos here that shows a big viaduct before the war and then after liberation it was almost completely destroyed.

[NARRATOR] One thing that really caught my eye about this article, Rob, from Gil Reid: It's special not just because there was artwork from Gil Reid but artwork because Gil read was there. Could you talk a little bit about that?

[MCGONIGAL] Well right, you know Gil painted or did artwork of many subjects over the course of his long life often working from photographs subjects that you know predated him or that were that he didn't see but he did a lot of that he did this from life. I particularly like this one at the end here where he shows a picture of an Italian railroad worker sort of looking with bemused interest at this G.I. artist in his railroad yard and, of course, the G.I. artist is Gil. And if you knew Gil you kind of recognize his features in that little self-portrait of them.

[NARRATOR]This would be Gil Reid doing a self portrait circa, what, '43 '44?

[MCGONIGAL] Yes, correct.

But the big the big World War II story though, in the issue is "Tracks To Victory." It's a major piece that talks about the route military railway services role in Europe from in Italy and then especially after D-Day talks about the incredible job they did moving traffic after the Allies landed on June 6, [1944.]


Read and share your comments on this article

Want to leave a comment?

Only registered members of are allowed to leave comments. Registration is FREE and only takes a couple minutes.

Login or Register now.
Free download

Free download

Rail action at a moment in time.


Get the Classic Trains twice-monthly newsletter

By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Classic Trains magazine. Please view our privacy policy