Other disasters of Titanic's proportions


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John Meeks

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Hi Dave,

Thanks for the info. on Barlow & Arrol. I had no idea of the 'Titanic' connection mentioned. Fascinating!

...and yes, I did spell 'Bouch' wrong didn't I!

Finally dug up my reference on this one ("Red For Danger" by L.T.C. Rolt) - misplaced after a house move! It prompted me to mention another great railway disaster (in 1915) - 'Quintinshill', involving a total of five trains including a packed troop-train. Fire broke out and almost three hundred souls (nearly all British military personnel) were lost.

Regards,

John M
 
Mar 28, 2002
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The Quintinshill (or Gretna Green) rail disaster of May 1915 happened just a couple of miles from the December 1988 Lockerdie disaster. Britiain's worst rail and air disaster.

Cheers,

Boz
 
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John Meeks

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Was it that close? Quite remarkable!

How tragic.

Regards,

John M
 
Dec 13, 1999
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The Quintinshill rail disaster - gosh, that rang a bell. I understand that my ex sister in law's grandparents died then when a troop train collided with a local passenger train.

Geoff
 
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John Meeks

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For Geoff Whitfield....

Hi Geoff...please accept my apologies for taking so long, but since you had a distant family connection with the 'Gretna Green' disaster, I thought I should try to fill you in, assuming you haven't done so yourself.

Bear with me - this is slightly complicated, but not too bad - but it may take a paragraph or two...(actually, some of these older accidents deserve a website of their own, don't they!)

Anyhoo...

You're a young signalman at Gretna in 1915, and your track layout is pretty simple - two track main line with a single passing loop on each track (I'm wording this so that our N.American friends can follow, if they wish...they don't know what an 'up' line is..!) You're 'fiddling' an extra 30 minutes work in for your buddy, who is coming in to work late. It's around 6.30A.M....

Now, two express trains from London are running about thirty minutes late (they're running fifteen minutes apart). So, following normal procedure, you allow the local early morning Northbound train into your block. Normally, you would slot it into the Northbound loop to allow the late expresses to pass it.

This morning, you can't - there's a freight train sitting in the loop. No problem, though; you let her cross over onto the Southbound main line and park her. In full view.

You should now, mark the levers in your cabin to show that you have a train on the 'main' - but don't bother....!

Then, you are asked to receive an unexpected 'empty' train, Southbound. No problem, your Sothbound loop is still free. You admit her, and park her.

Then, your buddy arrives, and you start chatting. In the meantime you've also accepted the first Northbound express on the still-free Northbound main line. You chat some more...

Then - you receive a request to accept the bete-noir of all railway signalmen...a 'special'. A troop train, headed South....

You accept it...

At this point, things happen much more quickly than Capt. Smith, Lightoller or anyone else could have coped with...!

Within minutes there's a bloody great bang as the troop train ploughs into the 'local'. The locomotive is driven back about 120' and ends up across the Northbound track. The troop train locomotive also ends up across all the tracks, and the train (or what's left of it..)starts to burn...

You panic and start to run down to do what you can - but - sixty seconds later, the first Northbound express ploughs into the wreckage.

You are having a 'bad day'!

The fire burns for twenty three hours. Ten civilians were killed, whilst the military lost an estimated(!) 215, with 191 injured.

They kept it a little quiet; there was a War on....

The signalmen were held totally accountable for the accident, but as the author of my source pointed out "have we all not been equally careless and forgetful on occasion but with no such fearful result?"

I know I have...

(Source: Red For Danger L.T.C. Rolt, Published by John Lane The Bodley Head Ltd., 1955)

Sorry I took so long!

Best Regards,

John M
 
Mar 28, 2002
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Whilst researching some East Midlands passengers, I came across a report, dated around mid-April 1912 of an "affray" at the Lena gold mine in Russia. Apparently, at least 250 workmen were killed and 150 injured after troops "literally decimated" the workers with gun fire as they tried to crawl to safety. Nice, eh?

Cheers,

Boz
 
Mar 28, 2002
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What about the Tanguska explosion over Siberia on 30th June 1908? No-one is believed to have been killed but the effects were world-felt.

Timely too, considering we're all going to get it in 2019 anyway.

Cheers,

Boz
 
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John Meeks

Guest
OK..now you have me worried Iain...!

In 2019, I will be 78 - assuming I'm still around!

But I do have a son, and lots of you younger folks will still be doing your thing...so...

Stop the suspense, fill us in...what's headed our way...?

Anxiously,

John M

(PS - Actually...if we're all gonna 'get it' - who cares? - But fill us in anyway...)
 
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