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Soldiers Die in Train Disaster

by actiondesksheffield

Contributed by 
actiondesksheffield
People in story: 
Soldiers Die in Train Disaster
Location of story: 
Beighton, South Yorkshire
Background to story: 
Civilian Force
Article ID: 
A5492775
Contributed on: 
02 September 2005

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Julie Turner of the ‘Action Desk — Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Eileen Hayward, and has been added to the site with the author’s permission. The author fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.

Title: Soldiers Die in Train Disaster.

Names of people in story: Eileen Hayward, Phyllis Simms.

Location: Beighton, South Yorkshire.

A report written about the incident years later in 1984.

A steel plate protruding from a goods train from a goods train ripped through four carriages of a passing troop train at Beighton, in February 1942, killing 14 soldiers and injuring 35. The tragedy happened late at night, 200 yards from Beighton station.

Ambulances were sent from Sheffield, Beighton Civil Defence workers rushed to the scene to give first aid and a party of miners on their way home off shift at Waleswood Colliery stopped to act as stretcher bearers. The injured were ferried to Sheffield Royal Hospital and the Royal Infirmary. Beighton Miners’ Welfare and the Church Institute were opened to accommodate uninjured servicemen for the night. A local doctor, Dr. L. A. de Dombal, worked in the wreckage for two and a half hours, tending the injured till they could be taken to hospital. “He was first on the scene,” said one soldier, “and he worked till the sweat was running down his face in black streaks. He was everywhere he was needed.”

An official report on the crash, published in April, said the troop train, carrying 400 naval and military personnel was travelling at about 35mph when it came into contact with the 25cwt (hundredweight: 1 of equals 50kg) steel plate protruding from the goods train. The steel packing around the plate, to prevent it slipping, had become dislodges, possibly by vibration during its journey, and one corner of the plate cut through the sixth, seventh and eighth carriages of the troop train.

As a result of the accident, the London and North Eastern Railway changed its method of carrying steel plates.
A personal account of this same incident

Dronfield Civil Defence Ambulance Station Feb. 11th 1942 call out at 22.2 hrs.
Proceed to Beighton.

Phyllis Simms and I were on roster, when an alert call came, “Proceed to Beighton”. We drove on half-masked sidelights through the black out; our guess was that it was a pit disaster. How wrong we were! The police directed us to the railway station, like the teams who were there before us. The incident was down on the rail track and we had a walk of 200 yards. A 25cwt steel plate protruding from a goods train had cut through the carriages as the troop train passed through at 35 mph. Many service personnel were injured or dying; they had been sitting by windows asleep, reading or playing cards. Miners coming off work from the Waleswood Colliery helped us with the stretcher cases.

A young soldier I was tending, told the sailor who had come to help me, “The Navy is too late this time,” and died a few seconds later. I wish his mother could have known we were with him. Phyllis and I arrived back at the station, black with dirt and very tired at 5.35 hrs.

Pr-BR

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