Royal Engineers Military Railway Units Locomotive 8233 (later 48773)

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Reference WMO/84398


The Engine House Visitor Centre

Severn Valley Railway



WV16 6NZ


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Type: Freestanding
Description: Vehicle
  • Second World War (1939-1945)
About the memorial: WD 307 was built in 1940 by the North British Locomotive Co. as part of a War Department order for locomotives intended for service in France. After the Fall of France, the locomotives were instead loaned to the LMS Railway to help with wartime freight traffic and WD 307 was renumbered 8233. By December 1941, No 8233 and over 140 other Stanier 8F heavy freight locomotives had been requisitioned by the WD. They were sent to Persia (Iran) to supply the Soviet Union with vital supplies along a difficult route from the Gulf Ports, in the capable hands of the Railway Sappers of the Corps of Royal Engineers. Here, as Iranian State Railways No. 41.109, the locomotive was derailed in the Persian desert with its works train after a collision with a camel! In 1946 it was loaned to Egyptian State Railways for two years. After returning to the UK in 1952 for overhaul, it was stored on the Longmoor Military Railway (Hampshire) until purchased by British Railways in 1957. Renumbered 48773, the locomotive was used in Scotland and the North West of England for the next 11 years. Based at Rose Grove Depot, Burnley, the locomotive took part in The End of Steam specials in 1968. After strenuous efforts by Society members, No 48773 was purchased for preservation and moved to the newly-formed Severn Valley Railway. Since then No 48773 has completed over 150,000 miles in SVR service between Bridgnorth (Shropshire) and Kidderminster (Worcs), as well as many successful outings on main-line excursions and visits to other heritage railways. As a locomotive with a unique military history, it was suggested that it should be dedicated as a Memorial to those military railwaymen of the Corps of Royal Engineers (Transportation) who lost their lives in World War II. In 1986 a Service of Dedication was held at Highley on the Severn Valley Railway, led by the Dean of Hereford, and conducted with full Military Honours. In 2002 the Society compiled a Roll of Honour and Books of Remembrance commemorating 354 known casualties. The Dedication was made by the Chief Royal Engineer, Lieutenant-General Sir Scott Grant KCB, at a Service held at Kidderminster Station (SVR). Since 2008, when the locomotive’s boiler certificate expired, this National Treasure has been on display with the Roll of Honour at the SVR’s Engine House Visitor Centre at Highley (Shropshire). Recently the names of a further 54 WWII casualties have been identified and an additional Roll of Honour has been produced by the Society. This was unveiled by Brigadier Mike Stephens at a ceremony at the Engine House in 2011, 25 years after the locomotive’s Dedication, together with a Roll of Honour commemorating the six Railway Sappers killed in an accident on the Longmoor Military Railway in 1956. Over 200 ex-servicemen, family members and visitors were present. Visitors can see the Rolls of Honour and information panels describing the history of the Railway Royal Engineers alongside the locomotive. No. 48773 is awaiting overhaul which includes work on its boiler, firebox and tender, plus new steel tyres. The Society is keen to restore this historic locomotive to ‘active service’ on the railway so that future generations can learn about the part played by these men and machines in Britain’s military history. For more information, to see the names on the Roll of Honour or to join the Society, please visit our website
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