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Remembered Today:

Train crash Charleroi May 1919


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StonehengeMaid

I am researching a BQMS William Walter Talbot R.F.A. who was killed in a train crash between Marchiennes-au-Pont, Charleroi and Luttre on or close to the 29 May 1919. I have searched all of the usual places but can find no mention of a train crash except the inscription on a close by grave of a Sgt Frederick Bridges K.R.R.C. who also died on the same date.  The inscription says "KILLED IN THE CHARLEROI RAILWAY ACCIDENT COMING HOME AFTER 4 YEARS SERVICE (R.I.P.)"     With these two men in this cemetery, Marcinelle New Communal Cemetery  in Charleroi, are a further four men who all died on the same day.  All six are NCO's of a mix of regiments K.R.R.C, R.G.A, R.H.A, R.E.  None of the other men have any reference to the train crash on their grave.  Any suggestions where I might find information please?

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I don't know if this agency report that appeared in the edition of the The Times dated Saturday May 31st, 1919 adds anything?

 

82188869_TheTimesSaturdayMay311919BritishTroopTrainAccidentsourcedTheTimesDigitalArchive-1.jpg.135444d1c600bd12a3e0bb4b90a17d95.jpg

(Image Courtesy of The Times Digital Archive)

 

Have you tried looking up the entry for the six (or is that 7?) men who died in the Army Register of Soldiers Effects to see if that gives any information about the circumstances of their death.

 

I can't see either a Soldiers Will or Civil Probate for William Walter Talbot or Frederick Bridges. If you get nothing specific from the Register of Soldiers Effects, then might be worthwhile checking that out for the others. A Soldiers Will reference won't add anything beyond confirmation of date but the entry in the Probate calendar can sometimes be surprisingly illuminating.

https://probatesearch.service.gov.uk/#wills

 

Hope that helps,

Peter

 

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david murdoch

 From the newspaper archives there are several newspaper reports 31st May 1919  about this accident which note took place on Thursday evening (29th) the train had 40 carriages  of which  seven de railed and three carriages overturned, killing seven and seriously injuring "a score" of others. The train was full of British soldiers returning to UK for demobilisation, who had just entrained at Marchiennes-au-Pont, and the train derailed only 500 m from the station. Those killed outright are all  Marcinelle New Communal Cemetery. There may (likely) be others who died later of their injuries.

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StonehengeMaid

Thank you Peter and David for your replies.

I have identified 6 men in Marcinelle Cemetery who all died on the same day, 29 May. The cause of death was only mentioned on two in their Register of Effects. One said 'died as result of an accident' and the other actually mentioned the rail crash. Some of them were taken to 20 CCS at Charleroi and died there.  You would think there would have been an enquiry into the cause of the derailment. I think I might dig some more.

Thank you again.

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Mike Cross

Probably not be the same incident but how many Belgian railway accidents were there in May 1919?  In the 'Oxfordshire Hussars in the Great War' there is a brief account of the last men of the regiment returning to England in May 1919 from their final postings in the area east of Liege.  Having boarded their train along with wagons and limbers at Pepinster at 15.30 on May 12th the carriage containing the Officers and several men 'ran off the rails and overturned' at around 17.30.  No one was reported injured and the regiment arrived at Antwerp the following day finally embarking for England, destination Catterick, on May 20th.

 

MC

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stevebecker

Mate,

 

There were a large number of train accidents during the war that took the lives of many men.

 

While I have no men lost on that day I have number lost in other accidents in France.

 

S.B

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3 hours ago, StonehengeMaid said:

You would think there would have been an enquiry into the cause of the derailment.

 

There would have but I suspect it's was a civilian train on a civilian line and the enquiry would have been done by the Belgian authorities.  If the service records for any of those known to have died have survived it's likely that any subsequent British Army Board of Enquiry on the death of each man would rubberstamp the Belgian investigation and have a translated copy included. Additionally if the Medical record pages \ Casualty Form - Active Service pages are still present they may detail the cause of death.

 

Unfortunately the one time I came across something similar the service records that I could find were all cross referenced to the Board of Enquiry report being held in the file of one individual - and of course that was one of the ones that had been lost in the flames.

 

Cheers,

Peter

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