US 2-8-0 tender locomotive No. 1604 at Paddington Station, 1942
On December 11th 1942, for the very first time, an American built locomotive steamed into Paddington Station. Acute shortages of locomotives on the GW network due to locomotives being sent overseas caused operational problems that threatened to affect the service the Company could offer to both the government and the general public. This was alleviated in part by borrowing locomotives from other British Railway Companies and also reinstating previously withdrawn engines back into service. In 1942 however, a number of American locomotives were shipped over to Britain to assist the domestic transport network. In a ceremony held at Paddington Station on the 11th December 1942, United States 2-8-0 tender locomotive No. 1604, pictured here adorned with the British and American flags, was formally handed over to Lord Leathers, Minister of War Transport, by Colonel N.A. Ryan, Chief of Transportation for the American Army, who stated that he hoped the locomotive “will do as good work for you as British Engines have done already for us”.
Australian officers and sailors on a visit to Swindon Works,1945
Officers and sailors from H.M.A.S Australia on a visit to Swindon Works on July 13th 1945 whilst their ship was docked at Plymouth awaiting repairs. Their ship was heavily involved in the war effort throughout South East Asia until she was forced to withdraw for repairs in early 1945. She arrived at Plymouth on July 2nd 1945 for a major refit and remained there until December of that year. With up to 6 months in port while their ship was undergoing repair the group of Australian soldiers, pictured here continuing their tour around Swindon Works, presumably had plenty of time to tour sites of interest around Britain. The impressive building in the background of this image is the Pattern Store which housed the GWR's thousands of component patterns.
Carriage No. 4329 from US General Dwight D. Eisenhower's ‘Alive' train in 1942
One of the most important areas in which the GWR was asked to support both the war effort and the US army was in the provision of what was codenamed the ‘Alive' train which was to be used by the US General Dwight D. Eisenhower whilst in Britain making preparations for the invasion of Europe. Much secrecy surrounded both the make up and the operation of this train, although some details have emerged during the years following the war, and we know that carriage No. 4329, featured in this image, was one of the sleeping coaches from the ‘Alive' train. It is understood that the order for the train was issued in June 1942 and that many additions and improvements were subsequently made over the following years, so making the train a fully equipped and self-contained vehicle from which General Eisenhower and his team could operate. During the latter years of the war the ‘Alive' train travelled extensively around Britain, and in December 1944, fully equipped with bullet proof glass, the train was shipped overseas where it operated throughout France and on many occasions travelled close to the enemy line.