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This months picture…

Urie N15 Class No 744 'Maid of Astolat' is turned at Fisherton Sarum

Urie N15 Class No 744 ‘Maid of Astolat’ is turned at Fisherton Sarum

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If you so wish, wear your poppy with pride today, pause respectfully for two minutes at 11 am this Armistice Day morning and again tomorrow on Remembrance Sunday, remembering all those, both service personnel  and civilian whom have given their lives for the freedom that we all enjoy today, and should you feel so inclined, support the sterling work of the Royal British Legion.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

Locomotive 333 was built originally by the London Brighton and South Coast Railway, designed by Billinton, as an L class 4-6-4 ‘Baltic’ tank. She was given the name Remembrance and became the companies War Memorial engine and carried a plaque with the inscription:

“In grateful remembrance of the 532 men of the L.B.& S.C.Rly. who gave their lives for their country, 1914-1919″

In 1934, under the auspices of Maunsell they were rebuilt as Class N15x (an appropriate Brighton-style suffix) 4-6-0s, and fitted with standard Urie LSWR tenders along with smoke deflectors. Now number 2333 ‘Remembrance’ retained its name, plaque and status within the Southern Railway.

2333 on Fisherton Sarum this weekend at the Tolworth Showtrain exhibition As I am this weekend exhibiting Fisherton Sarum at the Hampton Court MRS, Tolworth Showtrain at the Tolworth Recreation Centre, Fullers Way North, Tolworth, Surrey, KT6 7LQ my model (albeit currently a static one) of 2333 ‘Remembrance’ is taking pride of place on the very front road of the shed by way of a mark of respect.

Railway companies across the country and indeed the world lost many staff; not only those drafted into the military services, but also those lost whom continued their duties on the railways keeping the networks up and running, we should honour and remember them all.

Inscribed on James Scott’s Victory Arch, at Waterloo station: “Dedicated to the employees of the Company who fell in the war.”

And just to end this post – the poppy is more than a one time of a year symbol:

I am not a badge of honour, I am not a racist smear,
I am not a fashion statement, to be worn but once a year,
I am not glorification of conflict or of war.
I am not a paper ornament a token,
I am more.

I am a loving memory, Of a father or a son,
a permanent reminder of each and every one. 
I’m paper or enamel, I’m old or shining new,
I’m a way of saying thank you, To every one of you.

I am a simple poppy, a reminder to you all,
That courage faith and honour,
will stand where heroes of all kinds fall.

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This months picture…

Adams A12 Jubilee class, built from a Nu-Cast kit,  is turned at Fisheton Sarum with a Drummond M7 in the background.

Adams A12 Jubilee class, built from a Nu-Cast kit, is turned at Fisheton Sarum with a Drummond M7 in the background.

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This months picture…

Maunsell 2-6-0 N1 class 1822 heads west on a freight service. 1822 has been converted from a Bachmann N Class with modified front end and valve gear. The first four wagons are banana vans piped with steam heating to help ripen the fruit.

Maunsell 2-6-0 N1 class 1822 heads west on a freight service. 1822 has been converted from a Bachmann N Class with modified front end and valve gear. The first four wagons are banana vans piped with steam heating to help ripen the fruit.

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This months picture…

Bulleid Light Pacific, Battle of Britain 21C151 'Winston Churchill' is turned at Fisherton Sarum.

Bulleid Light Pacific, Battle of Britain 21C151 ‘Winston Churchill’ is turned at Fisherton Sarum.

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This months picture…

Douchess class No. 46236 'City of Bradford' is turned at Fisherson Sarum during trial runs for the 1948 Locomotive Exchange trials, she is coupled to a WD tender due to the SR not having any water troughs.

Stanier Duchess class No. 46236 ‘City of Bradford’ is turned at Fisherson Sarum during trial runs for the 1948 Locomotive Exchange trials, she is coupled to a WD type tender for the trials due to the SR not having any water troughs.

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This week sees the release of a new blockbuster style film ‘Dunkirk’; directed by Briton Christopher Nolan, whose stars include Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hardy and some singer or other Harry Styles (I didn’t think I would ever include his name in a post on here!); is of course about the the evacuation of Allied soldiers from the beaches and harbour of Dunkirk, France, between 27 May and 4 June 1940.
As it is probably not mentioned much in the film (as I have not seen it yet) I thought it would be worth revisiting a past post from May 2015 that commemorated the 75th anniversary of the event and discussed the vital part played by the Southern Railway.
The Dunkirk evacuation, code named Operation Dynamo, was decided upon when large numbers of British, French, and Belgian troops were cut off and surrounded by the German army. The event is renown for the use of a flotilla of 800 small ships used to assist in the ferrying of some 338,226 soldiers to safety.

southern-railway-coat-of-arms-1923-1948The Southern Railway played very much an unsung role in Operation Dynamo, as once back on English shores the soldiers that did not require immediate hospitalisation or were already based at local South Eastern England barracks were dispersed across England away from the main reception ports of Margate, Ramsgate, Folkestone, Dover, and Newhaven. During the nine period of Operation Dynamo the Southern Railway laid on and coordinated an amazing number of special trains comprising of : 327 from Dover, 82 from Ramsgate, 75 from Margate 64 from Folkestone and also 21 ambulance trains.
These trains, known as ‘Dynamo Specials’ moved 180,982 troops, many of these services were routed via  Redhill, Guildford and Reading, in order to bypass the capital and avoid congestion. Where possible during this period the Southern Railway maintained its usual passenger services with the except of some ‘omnibus replacement services’ to free the most heavily utilised routes between Guildford, Redhill and Tonbridge. Not only was coordination required of the departing trains but also the routing of the return empty stock workings and the necessary prepared engines required to keep the transportation of soldiers as quick and efficient as possible.

The Southern Railway mustered at very short notice nearly 2000 additional carriages, many borrowed from other railway companies including 47 complete rakes from the LNER, 44 from the LMS and 40 from the GWR.  Also 180 engines and crews were required from across the network, to operate these services.

To avoid delay at Dover and Ramsgate it was decided that the soldiers, many of whom had not eaten properly for days, would be fed on the trains. Just simply feeding the men provided Southern Railway with a major logistical problem,  therefore certain rail stations were designated feeding stations. These stations included Headcorn, Tonbridge and Paddock Wood Although the Royal Army Service Corps were primarily responsible many local Women’s Voluntary Service members were involved to provide food and drink, much of which was also donated or paid for with monies rasied from the local communities. Due to the number of trains involved only an eight-minute stop for soldiers to be provide with food and drink that bearing in mind this could have been 550 per train, was again an impressive feat.  Trains often had to pull into a siding at these food stops to ensure that any ambulance trains had priority over the use of the main lines.

Given that Southern Railway had practically no time to organise and plan such an activity, what it achieved without the use of modern day communication systems was very impressive; improvisation and word of mouth were the order of the day. One unknown Army general was famously heard to say: “I wish the Army could operate with as few written instructions as Southern Railway does in an emergency.”

The Southern Railway, as well as coping with troops from Dunkirk, was also evacuating no less than 48,000 school children from the coastal areas due to fear of a German invasion. It should not go unmentioned that a number of the Southern Railway’s shipping fleet and crew, varying from cross channel passenger vessels, Isle of Wight ferries and cargo vessels were actively involved out on the channel itself,  with a number being either badly damaged or lost to enemy action.

We should also pause to remember the 68,000 of our soldiers whom didn’t make it home safely from this particular French campaign.

I hope this post goes, once again, a little way to remember and honour the part that the Southern Railway played in the overall success of Operation Dynamo out of what was a defeat in military terms in Flanders.

 

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