The Beighton Rail Disaster - February 1942

In November 2005. I obtained a copy of The Scotsman newspaper dated Friday 13th 1942 which also has a report of the accident but somewhat surprisingly gives more information than that reported in The Times -

TROOP TRAIN CRASH NEAR SHEFFIELD

DEATH TOLL 14 Injured 36

MINERS AID LAMP - LIGHT RESCUES

Miners and villagers, first in darkness and then by the flickering light of hand-lamps, helped to drag dead and injured Servicemen from the wreckage of a troop train at Beighton Station, near Sheffield, following a crash between 10 and 11 o'clock on Wednesday night. The death-roll is fourteen and 36 men were injured. Sides of carriages were ripped out and left gaping—soldiers and sailors being thrown on to the rail track—by, it is believed, a piece of sheet steel, projecting from a stationary goods train. The names of two of the dead are given as Ernest Rodgers, of Woolwich, and Amos Albert Hollingsworth, of Beeston, Notts, both Army men. They died on the way to Sheffield Infirmary. The list of injured includes the name of James Bailey, Midlothian

Although the damaged coaches did not leave the lines doors were torn off and other wreckage lay amid a litter of steel helmets, respirators, and other equipment . As rescue work went on for four hours the injured were rushed to Sheffield hospitals in ambulances which, with doctors and nurses, were soon on the scene. " There was not a word of complaint from any of the injured," said a rescuer. "One man was upset because he had just written to his wife telling her he was all right. He was afraid she would worry on hearing of the crash. Another man was anxious about his rosary." One man probably owes his life to a comrade who-was thrown on top of him. "The injured were mostly trapped in loose wreckage," said Mr Charles Booth, a colliery ambulance instructor, who took a team of seven men with blankets and stretchers to the spot. The scene at the station was like a shambles. Soldiers in the first half of the train were the more seriously involved. As they were taken from the debris villagers comforted them before they were hurried to hospital. Ambulances left every few minutes. Breakdown gangs had cleared the line by dawn. 

The men mentioned in the report as being killed in the accident appear on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website 

Name:

HOLLINGSWORTH, AMOS ALBERT

Rank:

Gunner

Regiment:

Royal Artillery

Unit Text:

366 Bty., 42 (7th Bn. The Sherwood Foresters [Notts. and Derby Regt.]) Searchlight Regt.

Age:

23

Date of Death:

11/02/1942

Service No:

2056365

Additional information:

Son of Albert and Caroline Hollingsworth, of Nottingham; husband of Alice Hollingsworth, of Bulwell, Nottingham.

Casualty Type:

Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference:

Sec. P/12. Grave 31. – Nottingham Northern Cemetery

 

Name:

RODGERS, ERNEST

Initials:

E

Rank:

Gunner

Regiment:

Royal Artillery

Age:

32

Date of Death:

11/02/1942

Service No:

1763763

Additional information:

Son of Horace and Sarah Ann Rodgers; husband of Eveline May Rodgers, of Merstham.

Casualty Type:

Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference:

West of Path.  – Merstham (St Catherine) New Churchyard

 Six days later on Thursday 19th February 1942 The Scotsman also reported on the Inquest that was held into the crash. Although brief it does contain information that was not included in The Times report

The Guardian report of the disaster that appears on the bottom of the main page also gives the name of another fatality, SAMUEL KING of Westcliff on Sea, Essex

KING James Samuel. Nationality: United Kingdom. Rank: Gunner. Regiment/Service: Royal Artillery. Age: 32. Date of Death: 12/02/1942. Service No: 11264438. Additional information: Son of Samuel and Bertha Grace King, of Westcliff-on-Sea. Plot R. Grave 12050.

James is buried in Sutton Road Cemetery Southend on Sea. He is buried in buried in Plot R, outside the hedged perimeter of the War Memorial. In March 2013 I received this e-mail from James' nephew

"Thank you for the information on your web site about the Beighton Train Disaster. I have always wondered about what precisely happened.
My uncle James King was killed in the crash. From the information on the web sites linked to yours it appears he died on the day after the crash so he must have been one of those taken to Sheffield Royal Infirmary. Jim was a 32 year old single man. He had trained to become a draughtsman. But probably due to the difficulty in finding such work in the depression had joined with his brother Stanley to start in about 1938 a sweet making firm in Southend on Sea. The firm continued into the 1960s still trading as J & S King. My two brothers and I were born after the tragedy but we all knew the outline of the story, that a metal girder/plate had sliced into a troop train from a goods train on the other line and killed my uncle and other soldiers.
You ask whether the facts were kept from the families at the time. I suspect not. My grandfather had copies of the Times report of the Crash and also a copy of the coroners report and a report from the Southend Standard amongst his papers when he died. My brothers and I were regularly taken to his grave when I was younger. I remember being shocked once when my grandfather commented that some of the soldiers on the train had been beheaded."

Name: NICHOLAS, JAMES
Rank: Gunner Regiment/Service: Royal Artillery
Age: 34
Date of Death: 12/02/1942
Service No: 11400525
Additional information: Son of John and Agnes Nicholas, of Liverpool; husband of Christina Nicholas, of Liverpool.
Grave/Memorial Reference: Sec. 20. C. of E. Grave 433. Cemetery: LIVERPOOL (ANFIELD) CEMETERY

Name: ALLEN, JOSEPH
Rank: Gunner Regiment/Service: Royal Artillery
Date of Death: 11/02/1942
Service No: 11061514
Grave/Memorial Reference: Gen. Sec. Grave 10394.
Cemetery: TOTTENHAM CEMETERY

Name: CHANDLER, GEORGE JAMES
Rank: Gunner Regiment/Service: Royal Artillery
Age: 40
Date of Death: 11/02/1942
Service No: 11061577
Additional information: Son of George and Emily Matilda Chandler; husband of Harriett Chandler, of King's Cross, London.
Grave/Memorial Reference: Sec. C.C. Joint Grave 1703.
Cemetery: SHEFFIELD (CROOKES) CEMETERY

Name: PIPER, DAVID WILLIAM
Rank: Gunner Regiment/Service: Royal Artillery
Age: 42
Date of Death: 11/02/1942
Service No: 11061732
Additional information: Son of William David and Charlotte Piper; husband of Violet Anna Piper, of Edgware, Middlesex.
Grave/Memorial Reference: Sec. C.C. Joint Grave 1703.
Cemetery: SHEFFIELD (CROOKES) CEMETERY

Note: George Chandler and David Piper are buried together

Name: SMITH, LEONARD EDWARD
Rank: Gunner Regiment/Service: Royal Artillery
Age: 34
Date of Death: 11/02/1942
Service No: 1754437
Additional information: Husband of Violet Nina Smith, of North Kensington.
Grave/Memorial Reference: Square 185. Row 38. Grave 51076. (Screen Wall).
Cemetery: KENSAL GREEN (ALL SOULS') CEMETERY

Name: MILNE, LEONARD ARTHUR
Rank: Gunner Regiment/Service: Royal Artillery
Age: 41
Date of Death: 11/02/1942
Service No: 11061201
Additional information: Son of John R. Milne and Martha Elizabeth Milne; husband of Elsie Milne, of Ilford.
Grave/Memorial Reference: Square 406. Grave 110080.
Cemetery: CITY OF LONDON CEMETERY AND CREMATORIUM, MANOR PARK

Name: POYLE, FRANK
Rank: Gunner Regiment/Service: Royal Artillery
Age: 40
Date of Death: 11/02/1942
Service No: 11061739
Additional information: Son of Joseph and Fanny Poyle; husband of Ada Emily Poyle, of Enfield.
Grave/Memorial Reference: Sec. B. Cons. Grave 1361.
Cemetery: ENFIELD (HERTFORD ROAD) CEMETERY

Name: LORD, THOMAS BUTTERWORTH
Rank: Gunner Regiment/Service: Royal Artillery
Age: 36
Date of Death: 11/02/1942
Service No: 11400346
Additional information: Son of Fred and Amelia Lord; husband of Annie Elizabeth Lord, of Middleton.
Grave/Memorial Reference: Grave R. 546.
Cemetery: TONGE (ST. MICHAEL) CHURCHYARD - LANCASHIRE

Name: LAWRENCE, FRED
Rank: Gunner Regiment/Service: Royal Artillery
Age: 36
Date of Death: 11/02/1942
Service No: 11400582
Additional information: Husband of Jessie Lawrence, of Oldham.
Grave/Memorial Reference: Sec. B. Row 14. Grave 95.
Cemetery: OLDHAM (GREENACRES) CEMETERY

In November 2016 I received this information from a reader of the site who kindly gave me this information about his great Uncle

"Please find attached a photo of my Grandfather's brother's War grave in Harton Cemetery South Shields. He was a victim of the Beighton Rail crash and noting the date of his death may help you reconcile the numbers lost and when. I'm sorry I have no further information."

Name: BROWN, HENRY

Rank: Gunner Service No:1422222

Date of Death:14/02/1942 Age:41

Regiment/Service: Royal Artillery 

Grave Reference: Sec. 9. Grave 8087. Cemetery: SOUTH SHIELDS (HARTON) CEMETERY

Additional Information: Son of Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Brown, of South Shields; husband of Dorothy Brown, of South Shields.

Henry's grave in Harton Cemetery, South Shields

The interesting point to note is that unlike the other fatalities who have been identified to date, Henry did not die on either 11/12th February 1942. He died two days later on the 14th which seems to indicate that he survived the actual crash but died from the injuries he received.  


 Sources

 The Times Friday, Feb 13, 1942; pg. 2; Issue 49159; col B 

The Scotsman newspaper dated Friday 13th 1942

The Times Saturday, Feb 14, 1942; pg. 2; Issue 49160; col E

The Times Thursday, Feb 19, 1942; pg. 2; Issue 49164; col B

The Scotsman newspaper dated Thursday 19th February 1942

Sutton Road Cemetery Southend on Sea.

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This page was last updated on 28/11/16 15:30