Evacuees waiting outside the departure platform at Paddington in 1939
One of the very first war time roles that the GWR was engaged in was the evacuation of children from cities to the relative safety of the countryside. Even before war was declared, plans were drawn up for evacuation so the GWR and the other major railway companies were prepared and on standby to put these plans into action. On August 31st 1939, the day before Germany invaded Poland, the order to begin the evacuation was given. The very next day the mass movement of children began and continued until September 4th. The GWR was responsible for the majority of the children moved from North and East London and while most of the evacuation trains departed from Ealing Broadway, this image shows groups of children being off-loaded from a double decker bus outside the Departure Platform at Paddington Station during the four days of evacuation in September 1939.
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was alleviated in part by borrowing locomotives from other British Railway Companies and also reinstating previously withdrawn engines back into service.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.