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The Railway at War Gallery

The GWR during the First and Second World Wars

Choose from 221 pictures in our The Railway at War collection for your Wall Art or Photo Gift. All professionally made for Quick Shipping.


SS St Julien as a hospital ship, at Newport Docks, c.1940 Featured The Railway at War Print

SS St Julien as a hospital ship, at Newport Docks, c.1940

This image shows SS St Julien at Newport Docks following her conversion into a hospital ship, as denoted by the red cross painted on the side of her hull. St Julien was one of 7 GWR ships that were requisitioned for war service in the early months of the war. The Company ships played a vital role in transporting troops, cargo and wounded soldiers across the English Channel. This was dangerous work for the ships and their crew, sailing over to occupied France, often under fire from enemy guns. The evacuation of Allied Troops from Dunkirk in 1940 was perhaps the most notable and dangerous missions carried out by these ships, as they were direct targets for Luftwaffe bombers as they sailed into French waters. Operation Dynamo, as the evacuation was known, was undertaken by a fleet of more than 800 boats and saved more than 338,000 soldiers from capture. Amazingly, no Great Western ships were lost during Operation Dynamo and the fleet continued with wartime operations on behalf of the Government

© STEAM Museum of the GWR

Signalman in operating signal levers during wartime, c.1940 Featured The Railway at War Print

Signalman in operating signal levers during wartime, c.1940

A signalman in his gas mask continues normal duties at this unknown signalbox. But what is interesting about this photograph is the strange looking metal cabinet with its door ajar stood in the corner of the signalbox. This cabinet is actually a small air raid shelter for the signalman to retreat to. The shelters were nicknamed coffins as there was just enough space to fit one person. The large number of windows in a signalbox made them dangerous places to be in an air raid, so the coffins were installed to provide shelter from shattering glass and debris. The coffins were made of boiler-plate and were manufactured in the L2 (Tank) Shop at Swindon Works

© STEAM Museum of the GWR

Carriage No. 4329 from US General Dwight D. Eisenhowers Alive train in 1942 Featured The Railway at War Print

Carriage No. 4329 from US General Dwight D. Eisenhowers 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