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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 9, Issue 6 (September 1, 1934)

The Railways In War Time

The Railways In War Time.

The new L.M. and S. Leyland Diesel-hydraulic Railcar.

The new L.M. and S. Leyland Diesel-hydraulic Railcar.

Twenty years ago the British railways were confronted with the stupendous task of transporting the Army Expeditionary Force from the various inland camps to the Channel ports. Those hectic summer days of 914 will live long in memory, while the remarkable manner in which the railways silently and speedily conveyed men and supplies to the Western Front in the initial stages of the Great War, will ever be regarded as one of the rarest achievements in the whole history of transportation.

The vital part played by railways in the Great War is, of course, universally recognised. In Britain, around every fighting front, and in every corner of the Empire, railways paid a noteworthy contribution to the success of our arms. On the German side, the immense benefits secured through the possession of efficient railway facilities were also proved up to the hilt.

An anniversary such as this recalls many personal memories of war-time activities in the railway field. There were busy days spent by your correspondent in connection with troop and munition movement on the Home railways. Then came a period of service with the Guards, followed by a commission in the Railway Troops of the Royal Engineers. Here skilled engineering and operating men from all corners of the Empire joined hands, and commanding units of these splendid fellows in France and Belgium was indeed a rare honour. With the Armistice there came a spell of staff duty in the Rhineland, bringing a privileged insight into German railway methods and German railway thoroughness. Twenty years ago! It only seems like yesterday we were crawling stealthily along those tiny light railways that bordered Vimy Ridge and the Arras battle-front, with our load of ten or twelve trucks of high-explosive shells behind the petrol-driven locomotive; or returning back at dawn from the advanced railheads with a long string of heavily-laden ambulance cars. Here's greetings to all khaki-clad railway colleagues who came through safe and sound, and precious memories of the Empire's railwaymen who paid the supreme sacrifice at the call of duty.