04 – EKR in WW1 & WW2

Posted on February 25, 2015

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The memorial in Sheperdswell commemorates the residents who were killed or missing in World War I (20 names) and World War II (14 names). The memorial in Eythorne commemorates the residents who were killed or missing in World War I (22 names) and World War II (13 names).

While I have found relevant information about the EKLR during WW2, I have to do further research into its exact role during WW1. Here two quotes focusing on the war period 1940/1944.

“On the 8th September 1940 three super heavy batteries of Artillery entered on the Railway with their 0-6-0 six wheeled tender engines together with heavy guns, mounted on six wheeled bogie undercarriages weighing approximately 82 tons. The guns were 12” Rail Howitzers, operated by the 5th, 8th & 12th Batteries, those based at Shepherdswell were named Sheba & Cleo.

These guns, together with the locomotives, were stabled in the Company’s Sidings at Shepherdswell, Eythorne and Staple Stations and also at Poulton Sidings. At frequent intervals exercises took place at certain points on the Railway, the guns with their gun crews for such exercises being hauled by W D Locomotives.

Firing practice took place on several occasions with live shells, the sidings in which the guns were stabled being specially equipped with anchorages for securing the gun carriages when firing took place. A good deal of damage was done to the Company’s buildings by gun fire concussion, doors and windows being blown out, portions of roofs being lifted, etc. When firing practices were to take place it was necessary to cease all traffic movements within a certain area and to withdraw the staff from the sheds and shops. On the first occasion of such practices it was considered unnecessary to remove the coaching stock from the station and as a result of not doing so some of the drop and quarter lights were blown out of some coaches which were stabled about 100 yards from the guns. It was then decided to remove such stock during the period of the practices to other sidings as a precautionary measure.

During the period September 1940 to January 1945 the W D engines and trains ran 10,349 miles over the EKR in the course of their exercises, and for other purposes. They remained on the railway until December 1944, when they were moved elsewhere.

The Eythorne Battery operated from the former Guilford Colliery branch of the line, it having been relaid at the beginning of the war for such a purpose. The only reminder of this are the shell stores.”

Source: http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=5679.0

“During the War period 1940/1944 extensive operations and exercises were carried out on the Railway by the War Department.

In May 1940 a squadron of the Royal Air Force entered upon the Railway and took over complete control of Staple Station, for all intents and purposes that station being closed to the general public. Both the inwards and outwards traffic formerly dealt with at Staple Station had to be diverted to either the Company’s Wingham or Woodnesborough Station, and the Company’s Clerical and other Staff attached to the Station had to be temporarily transferred to Woodnesborough Station.

The Company’s trains were only permitted to pass direct through the Station except in cases where goods were consigned for or to be dispatched by the RAF, and that procedure continued until August 1940 when the squadron was transferred elsewhere, after which Staple Station and premises were handed back to the Company.

On the 8th September 1940 three super heavy batteries of Artillery entered on the Railway with their 0-6-0 six wheeled tender engines together with heavy guns, which were mounted on six wheeled bogie undercarriages, each of which weighed approximately 82 tons. These guns, together with the locomotives, were stabled in the Company’s Sidings at Shepherdswell, Eythorne and Staple Stations also at Poulton Sidings.

At frequent intervals exercises took place at certain points on the Railway, the guns with their gun crews for such exercises being hauled by W D Locomotives. Firing practice took place on several occasions with live shells – the Sidings in which the guns were stabled being specially equipped with anchorage for securing the gun carriages when firing took place. On the occasion of such practices a good deal of damage was done to the Company’s buildings by gun fire concussion, doors and windows blown out, portions of roofs being lifted, etc.

When firing practices were to take place it was necessary to cease all traffic movements within a certain area and to withdraw the staff from the sheds and shops. On the first occasion of such practices it was considered unnecessary to remove the coaching stock from the station and as a result of not doing so some of the drop and quarter lights were blown out of some coaches, which were stabled about 100 yards from the guns. It was then decided for the future to remove such stock during the period of the practices to other sidings as a precautionary measure. The super heavy batteries remained on the Railway until December 1944 when they were transferred elsewhere.

From the period September 1940 to January 1945 the W D engines and trains ran 10,349 miles over the Company’s System in the course of their exercises and for other purposes. This mileage is not included in the Company’s mileage statistics.

The War period has not passed without this Company experiencing some incidents, which called for special precautions to be taken. During the period the Battle of Britain was in progress there were occasions when it was necessary to delay shunting and other operations for a period and for the staff to take cover.

Fortunately only once was the track damaged by enemy action, that was on the 19th September 1940 when a high explosive bomb fell, blowing out a 14’0″ length of track on an embankment on the Richborough Branch, leaving a crater 8’0″ deep by 12’6″ in diameter. The crater was filled in and the track replaced, normal working being resumed within twelve hours of the happening.

There were several near misses from H E bombs which fell just clear of the Company’s boundaries at various parts of the System. Apart from the severance of telephone and tablet wires from time to time, nothing of a very serious nature happened other than previously stated.

The percentage of staff serving with the Army, Navy and Air Force is 12.”

Source: http://www.hfstephens-museum.org.uk/kesr/a-light-railways-war