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London & North Western Railway Society
LNWR Society Publications

LNWR Society Portfolio No. 11 - LNWR Great War Ambulance Trains

Portfolio no 11 Front page

This ‘Premier Portfolio’ includes the results of many years of research into ambulance trains provided by the LNWR for military and naval personnel in the Great War of 1914–18. As it is unlikely that this information can be re-researched and presented again in the future, great efforts have been made here to ‘get it right the first time’, and to include all relevant detail as well as a descriptive narrative. Most of this detail is in tabular form for easy reference. For various reasons quite a lot of the original documentation is no longer available, and in any case is widely dispersed.
Although the main focus is to describe the trains from the standpoint of railway (and especially LNWR) historians and modellers, it is hoped that the Portfolio will be valuable to military historians as well. The rolling stock involved is described with reference to the LNWR 1915 Carriage Diagram Book, copies of which may be inspected at the National Railway Museum. at York or the Public Record Office at Kew, or which can be obtained in photocopy form from the LNWR Society. The reader is strongly advised to refer also to David Jenkinson’s excellent work ‘An Illustrated History of LNWR Coaches’ (published by Oxford Publishing Company, 1978), which for convenience is referred to throughout in this monograph as Jenkinson.
For convenience rolling stock has been referred to by the BR classification codes; although these long post-date the LNWR they are easily comprehended and are the generally accepted ‘shorthand’.
Not much material about ambulance trains has been published before. In researching this monograph I have made use of Edwin A. Pratt’s weighty ‘British Railways and the Great War’ (published by Selwyn and Blount Ltd., London 1922), and also Lt. Colonel John H. Plumridge’s ‘Hospital Ships and Ambulance Trains’, (published by Seeley, Service and Co., London 1975). Both of these books contain much interesting background information, but also significant errors and omissions. Most of the material presented here is the result of original research at Wolverton Works, the National Railway Museum at York, the Public Record Office at Kew and the Imperial War Museum. I am very much indebted to the staff at all these establishments for their invaluable assistance. If one name is to be mentioned, that of Cyril Webb at Wolverton stands out for his kindness in unearthing relevant papers.
Contributors of photographs have been acknowledged on the captions. It is worth mentioning that the Wolverton photograph collection housed at the National Railway Museum contains a great many views of the interiors and fitments of ambulance trains. There is also a fine model of a standard ambulance coach (in fact an ex-GWR vehicle) in the Imperial War Museum.
As always, I am very greatly indebted to Richard Casserley for his meticulous research and untiring help in disentangling much of the detail from a variety of old and often contradictory records. Although responsibility for any errors is entirely mine, it is important to point out that Richard deserves much of the credit and without his dedicated study and enthusiastic support this monograph would be much the poorer.

Philip A. Millard
Woking
January 1993