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 on: Today at 12:31:03 
Started by Craggs - Last post by Craggs
The only other relevant casualty that I can find in the Naval History Net shows that 2nd Lieut. Peter Fitzjohn died of wounds on the 29th August 1940.  This was after the above memo was typed and sent.

Thursday, August 29, 1940

Fort Cumberland, bombing
 FITZJOHN, Peter W, Ty/2nd Lieutenant, RM, DOW

His CWGC entry reads:

Rank:Second Lieutenant
Date of Death:29/08/1940 Age:25
Regiment/Service:Royal Marines Grave
Reference: Plot 29. Sec. F. Row T. Grave 331. Cemetery:BATH (HAYCOMBE) CEMETERY
Additional Information:Son of Ellison Robert Lafone Fitzjohn and Annie Marie Fitzjohn, of Bath.

 on: Today at 11:32:06 
Started by John - Last post by AlanTwentyFour
Hi I'm new to this forum. I Think I may have met David 'Hursleypark' on the Great War Forum.

Recently obtained this postcard of 170th Heavy Battery at Winchester after winning tug-o-war May 1916.

Originally thought this was Avington Park but that was a Territorial Force Artillery Park and would not have hosted what was in affect a New Army battery of the Royal Garrison Artillery.

166th to 171st Heavy Batteries were formed on 20th April 1916 under Army Council Instruction 929 and based at "Winchester West".

166th to 171st were not TF batteries.

I now think this photo was taken at Pitt Corner Camp. The map in post 1 shows the camp divided into 3 Brigades of Royal Field Artillery, a Divisional Ammunition Column and Horse Yard. At some point this must have become the Heavy Artillery depot.

The 170th HB RGA would have started off with a nucleus of existing RGA men and bought up to strength with new recruits being called up under the Derby (group) scheme. I think April/May 1916 is a little too early for conscripts as they were still getting through the Derby Scheme volunteers at that point.

170 HB went overseas on 31st August 1916.



 on: Today at 10:40:59 
Started by Weebouy - Last post by Tim Sargeant
That's a bit of a tight fit isn't it!
Strangely the fire appliance YAP425 hasn't survived.
I had YAP1 on a Mini Traveller back in the 1970s.
The Cortina 1600 Estate CRK38H, registered October 1969, is still about though.
Might help to date the photo later than suggested.

 on: Today at 10:23:49 
Started by John - Last post by Craggs
Only a tiny snippet more.......

The Naval History Net shows :

Friday, 28 January 1944

RM Boom Patrol Detachment, drowning
 WRIGHT, Edward A T, Lieutenant, RM, killed

I know it isn't much but it sort of helps a little bit............

 on: Today at 10:09:35 
Started by Craggs - Last post by alkhamhills
Frank French
Born about 1847 Lewes, Sussex. Parents John & Georgiana

Believe married Kate Ingram ¼ mar 1868 Sevenoaks District(she remarried in 1869—Arthur Jackson)

In 1861, aged 13, with parents at 33 Cavendish P North, Brighton. His father was a Foreman at a Railway Station(his father died 1867)

Cannot find burial details, or where he was living(possibly Sevenoaks?) .

 on: Today at 09:55:56 
Started by John - Last post by Craggs
The inquest was briefly mentioned just over a week later...........

Hampshire Advertiser - Saturday 28 October 1916


The death occurred suddenly on Wednesday at The Anglers Inn, Bishopstoke, of Samuel James Jordan, 32, of 110 Church-road.  At the inquest it was stated that death was due to heart disease, probably of some standing, and possibly due to a full stomach.

 on: Today at 09:52:45 
Started by Tim of Aclea - Last post by PNK
Tim, hopefully that will stop the myth spreading that it was only at night. Or is it already too late? I wonder where it originated?

 on: Today at 08:49:21 
Started by Craggs - Last post by Craggs
This is the sad story of a fatal explosion of a deadly railway cargo in December 1868. This happened in the railway sidings at Three Bridges Station which is near Crawley, West Sussex.  As with another of my previous posts about railway tragedies this may be quite a long one, so I'm going to split it up and post it over a couple of days or so.  I've read through the newspaper articles and they are long - but to try to paraphrase the reports would spoil this topic.

The incident involved the explosion of a railway cargo carriage full of "naphtha" which, with my lack of knowledge, I will describe as a form of petroleum - coming with the dangers that we associate with transport of such a material - but back in 1868 without what we now commonly refer to as 'health and safety'.  Railway transport regulations were still being developed.   Highly flammable, toxic and deadly.  This deadly cargo was being transported at night - and the railway guards, as was common practice, made their way in the darkness and did their work assisted by oil lamps which illuminated their night-work with an enclosed but naked flame.

I started to research this incident after I came across the grave headstone of one of the two men involved.  Sadly both men died, albeit over a week apart - I mention that now because it is relevant to how the Jury at the first inquest obtained their evidence.

I'll transcribe the newspaper articles as they are - so if anything is grammatically incorrect or spelt wrong or in brackets - that's how it was published....  and I will also say that some of the newspaper reporter's descriptions are quite graphic so don't read it if this may, in any way, upset you.

Please remember, as you read this, that the incident happened just under 150 years ago.  Things were a bit different then. 

The explosion and fire happened on Sunday 13th December 1868.

Brighton Guardian - Wednesday 16 December 1868



On Sunday morning a shocking accident occurred at Three Bridges Station, on the main line of the London and Brighton Railway.  About two o'clock in the morning a goods train had arrived from Bricklayers' Arm's Station, attached to which was an iron "box" (or closed) truck, labelled "Newhaven".  the initials it bore showed that it belonged to the North-Western Company, so it would have been attached to the train at Norwood, whence it would have been brought from Lillie Bridge, a junction near Kensington, where the interchange of traffic takes place.  Being labelled "Newhaven", it was, in the ordinary course, shunted at Three Bridges, where it would remain until a train was made up for the Lewes branch, when it would be taken on to Newhaven.

While standing in the siding, the night goods train working from Horsham to Tunbridge Wells arrived at Three Bridges, and according to custom, the guards went into the sidings or "back roads" to get whatever trucks were waiting to be carried onto the East Grinstead line.  The guard's names were John Harris, aged 31, married, with a family of four young children ; and Frank French, aged 21, who had been married only about five months.

While going along the siding Harris, though it was a rough and windy night, noticed a leakage from the North-Western Company's truck, and opened the door to see what was the cause.  His evidence is that he smelt no smell such as naphtha gives out until he opened the door.  Directly he did so there was a flash and a report, and the contents of the truck immediately burst forth as liquid fire.  Singular to say, the under guard, French, who had not entered the truck, but who was standing close by, was worse caught by the flames than Harris, for while the latter was enable to get clear of the truck and the surrounding flames, French was caught in them and completely enveloped.  Probably this was owing to the fact that while Harris had entered the truck, and could jump down at the first sign of danger, French was stooping down and holding his lamp underneath the truck.  Anyhow, while Harris was enabled to run away into the arms of the engine driver, poor French was seen by another shunter in the midst of the fire, almost away from reach of help.  This shunter took off his coat and threw it over French, but the flames burnt through it momentarily, and the shunter's hands and neck were severely burned.  He then succeeded in getting hold of the unfortunate man, and having torn off some of his clothes, to portions of which the flesh adhered, he wrapped up French and conveyed him to a shed.

Mr. Linn, the station master, was then called and having seen the men placed carefully in a brake van, he sent them on by a special train to Brighton and on arriving here they were taken to the hospital and at once admitted.  French gradually sank in the afternoon and did at half past ten at night, retaining consciousness to the last.  Harris is greatly injured about the legs and lower half of his body and remains in a very precarious state. 

It is now settle that the truck contained nine barrels of what is described in the Custom House declaration as "refined naphtha". Having ignited it burned with intense heat and glare, lighting up the country around, injuring the sidings upon which it was and damaging the adjacent trucks and their contents.  The conflagration brought a large number of people to the spot, and among the first to arrive, who rendered willing assistance, were four sets of gamekeepers and their watchers, from preserves in the neighbourhood.  One of the adjoining trucks was loaded with coal, which quickly caught fire, as did also two other tucks, one laden with hay for Worthing, and the other with general goods for Tunbridge Wells. 

The burning trucks have been detached, the flames in the three last mentioned were subdued with great difficulty, but the heat from the burning naphtha was so intense that no one could approach the truck which had contained it until it had burned itself out.  The truck was burned almost to a cinder heap, all the iron being calcined and twisted, and, in some places, fused.  The rails on which it was standing were bent and twisted by the severe heat, and the rails and "keys" of the down main line several yards off were also burnt.  The remains of the head-lamps present the appearance of having being subjected to the action of fire for a great length of time.

Refined naphtha has not hitherto been accounted a "dangerous" combustable, and though coming under special regulations; being carried only on certain days and by certain trains, would not be carried under "special agreement" like "crude" naphtha or petroleum.  But the absence of strong smell might be taken as suggesting a doubt whether the truck did contain naphtha.  The proceedings at the inquest, it will be seen,  went to this point; and the question was succinctly put by the learned Coroner when he said that either this was not "refined naphtha" or if "refined naphtha" then this latter oil must in future, apparently, be placed in the most dangerous class of goods to be carried.

We may add that on the news of the accident reaching Brighton, Mr. Hawkins, traffic manager; Mr. Denvil, his assistant; Mr. Williams, traffic superintendent; Mr. J.C. Craven, locomotive superintendent; and Inspector Carpenter, at once proceeded to Three Bridges.  There was but little damage to be repaired, so that their main endeavours were directed to ascertaining the facts, and the tracing of the truck.  Their enquiries led them to the conclusion, established at the inquest, that the truck had been consigned from Liverpool to Mr. A.D. Bosson, aged for the English and French railways at Newhaven, for transhipment to Dieppe, a way-bill in which its contents were described as "refined naphtha", being forwarded to him by post.  The truck left Liverpool on Friday morning and arrived at Willesden the same night, reaching Lillie Bridge, where it was handed over to the Brighton Company, on Saturday morning and passed on to Three Bridges at night.

That's the first part from the initial newspaper article and sets the scene.  The next part will be the inquest into young Frank French who died from his injuries on the same day as the explosion.  At this time John Harris is still alive, albeit severely injured and on death's door - but the Coroner and Jury find it necessary and appropriate to go to his bedside to take his deposition.

As I said at the beginning - sadly John Harris didn't survive and it was his grave headstone that I came across, not intentionally, at Newhaven. He died a week later but his initial evidence was important for the Jury to work out what happened and that's why I have mentioned his passing a bit out of sequence.  I will post a photograph of his headstone at the appropriate stage in the topic.

If anyone knows or can help with Frank French's burial or commemoration place then I would be grateful.

More to follow.

 on: Today at 07:51:24 
Started by Tim of Aclea - Last post by Tim of Aclea

when I edited the Wikipedia page on the GPSS removing the reference to the pipelines being constructed only at night, this is what I posted on the talk page to explain my reasons.



Claimed Night-time Construction of Wartime Pipelines
In both this entry and the one for ‘Operation PLUTO’ it is claimed that the wartime GPSS pipelines were only constructed at night-time, although in neither case was any evidence provided.  I have removed this claim for the following reasons.
1.   There is no mention of this in the primary sources for the construction of the GPSS such as the Official History, A.L.Adams paper (Adams was involved as an engineer in the construction of the GPSS) and ‘Petroleum at War’.  There is also pictorial evidence in ‘Petroleum at War’ of pipelines being constructed in daylight.  Additionally there is no mention of wartime night-time construction of GPSS pipelines in the new book ’Fuelling the Wars’ on the history GPSS.  This book, already referenced is, as far as I am aware, the only book written on the history of the GPSS.
2.   Whether or not a pipeline was constructed during day or night, its path would be very obvious from the air.  However, given that the pipelines were buried with 1.2 to 1.5 metres of soil above them, they would have been extremely difficult to damage.  A rail line would be a far more inviting target and more oil was transported by rail than by pipeline during the war.
3.   The construction of the first pipeline was not started until 1941, after the Luftwaffe had lost the Battle of Britain.  Workmen constructing the pipeline would have made no more inviting target than thousands of others all over Britain during the War.
4.   As a Chartered Engineer with over 30 years experience of working on pipelines, trying to construct a pipeline at night would have been totally impracticable.  During the winter of 1938/39 construction of protected storage depots did continue at night but floodlighting was brought in to enable this to happen. 

 on: Yesterday at 23:12:47 
Started by John - Last post by Monkton Malc
I noticed this evil looking face in the cloud when I was out in the garden the other day.
As I took the picture, there was a clap of thunder. Probably not pleased at having a picture taken...

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