Article from Stand To! Number 7, 1983

rail1

 

rail2

A 'Simplex' 4Ohp petrol tractor (0-4-0), weight about 6½ tons. Developed from the 2Ohp design, this example is of the 'protected' type with shrapnel-proof doors.

rail3

The numerous transport problems encountered behind the lines on the Western Front led to the development of many different solutions. In the BEF one such solution involved the creation of an intricate network of light railways and trench tramways to link the standard-gauge railheads with the front, and the raising of special units of the Royal Engineers to run them. The photographs presented here come from an album illustrating the work of an as yet unidentified Light Railway Company, RE, in the Ypres area at the end of the war.

rail4

Figures 4, 5 & 6. These poor snapshots show what appears to be a form of the 'Crewe' Ford convertible road/rail tractor, produced from Ford Model T cars at the LNWR Railway Works at Crewe. In Figures 5 &6 the tractor is shown on a line crossing lock gates on what is thought to be the Ypres Canal.

rail5

rail6

Further Reading: Davis (W.J.K.) Light Railways of the First World War. 1967. Henniker (Col. A.M.) Transportation on the Western Front. (British Official History) 1937.

Back to top