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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Railway Operating Division - RE


Simon_Fielding

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Would be grateful of any leads as to histories or war diaries of this unit.

Spr. Millward was apparently killed by shellfire on the 27th May 1918 - buried Mendinghem Military Cemetery - any mentions of operations at this time would be great!

Cheers

Simon F

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Sadly there is very little on Railways and the war.

ROD men could have been operating railways of standard or narrow gauge pretty much anywhere.

Places to start Looking are the Official History

"Transportation on the Western Front" - Henniker

The original ran to 1000 copies only

The Battery Press/IWM reprint is widely available

if he was a light railway man try

Light Railways of World War One W J K Davies

David & Charles 1967

(one of the scarcest WW1 volumes)

On the home front (little on the RODs)

British Railways and the Great War

E A Pratt

Originally published as a partwork series

Subsequently issued as two volumes

Selwyn & Blount 1921

Again very scarce

Martin

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Useful references - Thanks Martin!

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  • 1 year later...

Just to keep this one on the boil - Millward's father's grave in Bewdley states that Thomas was killed 'at Proven' - can anyone suggest what actions could have been taking place at the time?

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Simon,

It sounds like he was working on the Bergues-Proven-Boesinghe line when he was mortally wounded, probably at the Proven railhead. I have a copy of a paper by one David Lyell, C.M.G. etc. entitled "The Work done by Railway Troops in France during 1914-1919". It is an excellent and very detailed description of the work of the ROD although it doesn't discuss the disposition of individual units. Try as I may I cannot get it to attach here, so please PM me your email address and I'll forward it to you.

Best wishes.

Andy.

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Thanks very much for the leads Andy and Terry- fascinating material.

Simon

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  • 6 months later...

Simon,

If you are able to get to Northampton tomorrow evening, Thursday 12 April, Bill Aves is delivering a talk on the ROD to our WFA branch. Bill has recently completed a book on the subject, and his talk will focus on the ROD's work on the Western Front.

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Hi Kate

do you have the name of the book please

Mick

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Hello Mick,

Bill's book will be published in the autumn, and will be called Supplying / Supporting the BEF - the ROD on the Western Front 1915 to 1919.

I can put you in touch with him if you would like further details.

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There is also a book by the 20th LRT 'Chronicles of the 20th Light Railway Train Crews Co. Royal Engineers with the B.E.F. France 1917-19

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Hi Kate and Monsstar

thanks for the info

Mick

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  • 9 months later...

Hi Kate,

Sorry to ressurect this thread after so long. I'd be very interested in details of Bill's book and / or contact details for him. I still haven't had any look at what caused som amny (20+) ROD casualties on the 27th May 1918. Hopefully he could shed some light on this.

Best

Simon

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  • 11 months later...

Bill Aves is delivering a talk on the ROD to our WFA branch. Bill has recently completed a book on the subject, and his talk will focus on the ROD's work on the Western Front.

Bill's book will be published in the autumn, and will be called Supplying / Supporting the BEF - the ROD on the Western Front 1915 to 1919.

any news or follow up on the book situation?

and just to show my ignorance, who is Bill Aves?

cheers

baz

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi

I note that the link kindly supplied by Terry Reeves is no longer available. Does anybody have a copy?

Also, some background info may be found in 'British Railways and the Great War' by Edwin A Pratt

also 'Transportation on the Western Front'

the problem I find is that most writing is about the how the Uk railways survived during the war and about the committees that ran them. it's difficult to find any memoirs.

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  • 1 year later...

I notice that Bill Aves' book is now available on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Railway-Operating-Division-Western-Front/dp/1900289997/ref=wl_it_dp_o?ie=UTF8&coliid=IGXKSJHXDPAZL&colid=DHHGIHZ513EA

Has anyone seen a copy? I'm still chasing shelling at Proven on 27th May 1918!

Simon

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  • 2 years later...

I am surprised this was never followed up. I bought Bill Aves' book a while back and think it is a fantastic insight into the very badly recorded work of the ROD 'Broad Gauge'. It details the formation and deployment of the ROD, the work they were involved in, the sheds and works and the types of engines involved. My only criticism is it does not go far enough into the human side and so we don't know how the units were structured. However, bill does indicate that records are hardly extant and we can only guess.

I am guessing that loco crew, track crew etc would have their hiererchy, but also within professions eg, from the stats I find it hard to see all drivers being of one rank and reckon they could be NCO's ranging Sergeant to L/corporal.. Wish i'd know for certain.

Mr Aves does refer to an autobiography of a Stratford fireman called Jim Hill (the book is Buckjumpers Gobblers and Clauds, referring to types of engines that he served on. I have ordered a copy which I found on ebay, so cannot tell you into what depth it goes to

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