Tracks to the Trenches!


In a year in which the centenary of the Armistice is being marked, it’s easy to forget the pivotal role transport played in the conflict – particularly railways.

“Most people have a vision of mud, horses and men – the missing aspect is railways. The problem was the last 20 miles from the storage depots to the front line, as Sir Eric Gedes discovered when he investigated the reasons for the shortages at the front,” explained Phil Robinson, chairman of the Moseley Railway Trust.

LR2478, a 20hp ‘Bent-Frame’ Motor Rail Tractor (No. 1757 of 1918) demonstrated the movement of supplies close to the front line. It is seen here with a drinking water wagon on the field railway.

The MRT organised the third Tracks to the Trenches event over the weekend on July 13-15 at the Apedale Valley Light Railway near Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire.

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A sight to behold was the presence of three of the key British military locomotives of the First World War all in operation – the Greensand Museum Trust’s Leighton Buzzard Railway-based Baldwin 4-6-0 No. 778, Apedale resident Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0T No. 104 and the War Office Locomotive Trust’s Hunslet 4-6-0 No. 303.

The latter, an iconic locomotive, was launched the previous weekend at the Statfold Barn Railway for those who had supported its restoration following its repatriation from Australia in 2005.

Read more and view more images in Issue 244 of HR – on sale now!

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