National Geographic : 1964 Sep
Slow Train Throug below him in the lower bunk of a double decker were instantly killed. "The steel floor of the car was rolled up like a carpet, with the soldiers inside," he said. His most memorable experience occurred in 1947, he said, shortly after he had become a brakeman on the railroad. The French sys tem was to run as many as four trains over a given stretch of track at the same time, each in sight of the other, and traveling 15 miles an hour. On this day, the cook was in the last armored car of the first, or pilot, train. The car contained 12 Cambodian soldiers com manded by a French sergeant. Its main wealp on was a Bofors gun mounted in a turret. At Bau Ca, in jungle country 37 miles east of Saigon, three battalions of guerrillas wait ed in ambush. They let the first train through, then blew a mine that halted the second. In succession they then detonated 30 mines, stopping all four trains. h Viet Nam's War 427 During the confusion the cook jumped un der his car and saw four men running toward him. They were blown to bits when they pre maturely detonated the plastic explosive that was to destroy the Bofors gun. Mr. Giau lay within 50 feet of the explosion. The French sergeant radioed for hell), and a fighter plane arrived. It strafed the sur rounding jungle, but by then the attackers had already entered the train and were killing every Frenchman in sight. The Vietnamese passengers were given an indoctrination lecture and released. The guer rillas then looted the train, taking all weapons and supplies, even clothes and shoes off the dead soldiers. In 45 minutes they had com pleted the mission and disappeared as sud denly as they had come, back into the jungle. Mr. Giau told of an incident that occurred on October 30, 1963, between Song Phan and Muong Man. The rails at this point squeeze A,H A1. I)PH : (OI 1y Sheath of steel with machine-gun turret protects a "Wickham trolley"-an armored car originally developed by the British during their war with Communists in Malaya. The author traveled in a service car (far left), normally reserved for railway inspectors.