‘A’ isn’t always for ‘apple’.  The question is, was ‘A’ ever for ‘Armoured Train’ ? (Bear with me; this IS leading somewhere).

There were lots of different Alphabet books produced by Ladybird over the years and there’s a story that circulates in Ladybird circles that in one early book, presumably a war-time or post-war book,  ‘A’ stood for ‘Armoured Train’ (or sometimes ‘Armoured Car’).  Now although I’ve heard this repeated many times and in many different places, and, although it makes a good story, I’ve never thought it likely.  I’ve never seen an actual picture of this book as proof that it ever existed and I own copies of all the Alphabet books  that I know of. 

 But recently I came across a very early Ladybird Series book, (1920s) and in it I discovered that ‘A’ stood for ‘Ambulance Train’.

It might not be ‘Armoured Train’ but it offers just as much insight: a view of the long shadow cast by The Great War on society, long after 1918.  I didn’t even know what an Ambulance Train was, so looked it up.  What I read was moving.

http://www.worldwar1postcards.com/ambulance-trains.php

You’ll find more here:

http://www.yorkpress.co.uk/features/features/10860699.Trains_that_put_First_World_War_wounded_on_track/

This Ladybird Series book was probably not printed before 1924, so at least 6 years after the end of World War One.  Sometimes it’s the tiny details of daily life that can offer a glimpse into the past: a past where the term ‘Ambulance Train’ was seen as such a familiar piece of vocabulary that it was suitable for a child’s alphabet book.