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Welcome to the 40/8 Grande Du Kansas!

History of the 40/8



The 40/8 came from the tiny French railroad boxcars (Voiture) used as troop transports in moving "doughboys" to the "front" which carried signs showing the figure 40 over the figure 8, and referred to the cars capacity of 40 men or 8 horses.


It was funny to see 40 men in full pack and rifles riding in one of those pint sized boxcars, even the horses laughed. It was so miserable in there, the men had to laugh to keep from crying and when they started laughing at their own situation, they weren't so miserable any more.


When they returned home, the laugh was still on them. What a laugh! No jobs, No clothes, and No girls and there wasn't much they could do about it except to laugh at themselves like they had learned to do in the boxcars of La Belle, France.


Formed in 1920 by Joseph Breen at Breen-McCracken American Legion Post 297 in Philadelphia, Pa. La Societe was to be an organization for Legion members to be able to let off steam and be able to have fun and enjoy the comradeship of fellow members. The first official Promenade or meeting was held at The 1920 Department Of Pennsylvania American Legion Convention in Allentown, Pa., where other Legionaires from across the state were initiated or wrecked into La Societe.


The familiar French Boxcar that they knew so well was chosen to be the launching platform of the 40 et 8. The Posts and Officers were to be titled after the French Railroad, such as Voiture (station) and their Voiture Commander would be Chef de Gare (Station Master) on up to (Nationale Commander) Chef de Chemin de Fer or President of the Railroad. There would be 1 Voiture (Post) per county and members were to be called Voyageurs Militaire (military travelers).


Their uniform was to be a chapeau,(overseas cap) the Voyageur would have a gray chapeau with blue piping, Voiture Officers would have a red chapeau with blue piping, Grand (state) Officers would have a white chapeau with blue piping. The National Officers would have a gold colored chapeau with blue piping. The Past Officers would have a gray chapeau with either red, white or gold piping according to the level office that they held.


With a rented Boxcar the Voyageurs traveled to the National American Legion Convention at Cleveland, Ohio, where 700 Legionaires from across the nation were initiated or wrecked into La Societe.


The National Organization was formed and Joseph Breen was elected Premiere Chef de Chemin de Fer. The National Headquarters (Voiture Nationale) was established in Seattle Washington, and the 40/8 became the playground of the American Legion. The Constitution proposed at Kansas City in 1921 put the 40/8 on the road to progress.


Updated 02/06/2020


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