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#1 GC Jack

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Posted 25 January 2012 - 10:09 AM

Hello all I am new to the forum - I posted up a reply on the previous thread.

I am involved in new research on the Quintinshill accident in 1915. I am looking for any anecdotal or other evidence that may survive in military circles about the crash.

The web and local sources are awash with myths and stories, I posted one concerning a local story, which is still told in the district, about an attempt to shoot the signalmen concerned, but there are others.

One such, which is complete nonsense, is that the soldiers sabotaged the train. This gained some currency later though, as a result of a police investigation.

Many thanks,

Jack

#2 KevinBattle

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Posted 25 January 2012 - 10:36 AM

Hi and welcome
Aren't anecdotes and evidence contrary things?
Anecdotes just add to the myths and rumours, so aren't you looking for evidence that can be supported by facts?

Wasn't it simply a tragic accident down to "inattention" by the signallers, nothing more and nothing less?
What other aspect(s) can there be?
Does your research point to other conclusions?

#3 GC Jack

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Posted 25 January 2012 - 11:07 AM

Hi and thank you.

There are other aspects.

Anecdotal evidence is very valuable in research like this as it can support verifiable evidence.

Thanks for your your reply.

Jack

#4 Chris_Baker

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Posted 25 January 2012 - 11:21 AM

Jack, I understand that the Quintinshill disaster was subject to a good deal of scrutiny after the event and the main facts and factors are pretty well understood. It might be helpful for us if you could explain what your new research is trying to achieve. Do you have some new hypothesis that you are working to substantiate?

#5 GC Jack

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Posted 25 January 2012 - 11:27 AM

Hi Chris,

I am working with a team which may publish our findings later in the year.

I seem to be giving the impression that I am somewhat underhand and I apologise for that, it is just that the research at this stage is not ready for publication and there are copyright restrictions.

I can say that there is much more to this, which I am sure will interest many on this site, I will certainly post it up when I am able to do so.

If, however, the members of this forum feel that it is inappropriate for me to seek assistance here without being more forthcoming, or providing more information, I will withdraw my postings.

However, I would always be happy to answer any questions as far as I am able.+

Many thanks for your interest

Jack

#6 Indifferent Arthur

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Posted 11 March 2012 - 01:11 PM

Hello,
I have only just read your post. A letter dated May 24th 1915 on my site mentions the Quintinshill disaster. No great detail bit it does show the news of the crash reached people serving in France. Hope you find it of use.

http://www.arthursle...--may-1915.html

#7 GC Jack

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 12:24 PM

Thank for posting this.

Another piece of the jigsaw. Very useful.

Jack

#8 truthergw

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 12:58 PM

Like Arthur, I missed this thread earlier. I am puzzled to say the least at your statements. You refer to a rumour which was " sheer nonsense ". You later state that anecdotal evidence can " support verifiable evidence ". How is the decision made as to which anecdote is rubbish and which supports the evidence? If verifiable evidence exists there is no need to refer to anecdotes. In case of a clash, the anecdote would be simply set aside. This is the flaw that mars the otherwise excellent books by Lyn Macdonald. The course of battles is presented through anecdotes with little or no attempt to put these reminiscences into context. I realise that a couple of posts on the forum are not at all sufficent to base a real criticism on but I do wonder how the research will be presented.

#9 GC Jack

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 04:24 PM

Thank you Tom for posting this.

Perhaps my earlier posting was poorly phrased.

As I have made clear I am researching this and other railway accidents. The case of sabotage is an interesting one.

One of the facts - which is verifiable by national newspaper reports - is that just one day after the accident rumours were circulating that a German agent had tampered with the signalling to wreck the troop train.

It was actually investigated by the police and found to be nonsense.

On one of my trips to the locality I shared some of my findings with the author of the "Sorrows of Quintinshill" ; Gordon Routledge. He confirmed that this particular rumour came directly from local sources - anecdotal?

There are many anecdotal accounts in the form of local folklore, letters and newspaper reports, which add greatly to the story and paint a vivid pictue of the horror of the crash. Most authors do have to rely on these accounts, but their veracity should be checked against other sources.

I suppose in one sense all history is anecdotal!

I hope this explains things?

Jack

#10 auchonvillerssomme

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 05:31 PM

In 1927 LORD MONKSWELL in a statement to the Lords was clear on the cause.

.....All the other irregularities which were the immediate cause of that most deplorable accident would have been powerless to produce it if the trains in question had not been late at Carlisle. I may remind your Lordships that it is estimated that 224 persons lost their livesó there were difficulties in determining the exact number because many of the bodies were burnt to cinders. There were 246 persons injured. It was, I believe, the most disastrous accident that has ever taken place in Great Britain or any other country.

It came about in this way. Two sleeping-car expresses from Euston were so late at Carlisle that it was decided t.: send on a local train in front of them. The time-table provided for this local train leaving Carlisle after the two expresses. By the time the local trail, reached Quintinshill, just beyond Gretna, the expresses were approaching, so the local train was shunted on to the up-line to let the expresses pass. The first express passed safely and proceeded on its way. Meanwhile the signalman at Quintinshill, forgetting that he had shunted the local train on to the up-line, gave "line clear" to an up express, which crashed into the local train at high speed. Immediately afterwards the second express from London came on, also at high speed, and ran into the wreckage, some of which was blocking the down-line. If the expresses from Euston had made up time and arrived at Carlisle punctually there would have been no question of starting the local train in front of them, and the accident could not have happened. Even this ghastly accident failed to rouse the railway managements, and, so far as I know, nothing whatever was done to tackle the question of the making up of lost time. It would, I think, be impossible to illustrate the lethargy and indifference of the managements more clearly.


#11 truthergw

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 08:56 PM

Thank you Tom for posting this.

Perhaps my earlier posting was poorly phrased.

As I have made clear I am researching this and other railway accidents. The case of sabotage is an interesting one.

One of the facts - which is verifiable by national newspaper reports - is that just one day after the accident rumours were circulating that a German agent had tampered with the signalling to wreck the troop train.

It was actually investigated by the police and found to be nonsense.

On one of my trips to the locality I shared some of my findings with the author of the "Sorrows of Quintinshill" ; Gordon Routledge. He confirmed that this particular rumour came directly from local sources - anecdotal?

There are many anecdotal accounts in the form of local folklore, letters and newspaper reports, which add greatly to the story and paint a vivid pictue of the horror of the crash. Most authors do have to rely on these accounts, but their veracity should be checked against other sources.

I suppose in one sense all history is anecdotal!

I hope this explains things?

Jack

Hi Jack. Thank you for your reply. I think that with care, there is a fruitful debate to be had on the subject of anecdotal evidence. My criticism is not personal, nor am I dismissing your research but if I can simply pick up a couple of points?

For me, history is accessible documentation. This can be analysed, compared to other sources, debated and discussed. In the hands of a skillful writer, anecdotes can and do enliven a history but should not be the basis. That must be the facts. That is why there is so much controversy in our subject, the Great War. Anecdote was accepted uncritically and by repetition became that dread thing, " common knowledge". I think a distinction needs to be drawn between history and personal memoirs. There is an uneasy amphibian which hovers between these two, ' popular history' where errors and misleading half truths are supposed to be acceptable because that is the only way to get people interested.

My other cavil is your reference to the existence of one of the rumours being verified because it was mentioned in the press. These same papers would have rushed to inform their readers of the snow shod Russian legions travelling to France by rail. They will have assured their readership of the miraculous appearances of Angels, Bowmen and sundry other phantoms at Mons and on the retreat. Anecdotes ought to be approached on the basis that the raconteur is not on oath but newspaper stories are written to a deadline and with a required length. The first casualty of war is truth and in our war in particular, the press inflicted most of the injuries.

#12 Jack Sheldon

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 06:44 AM

Lord Monkswell's statement is interesting and I have never seen it before. It rather distorts the correct version of events and it certainly does not reflect the findings of the Inquiry of the Railway Inspectorate, which, as always, was conducted with great forensic care and which placed the blame squarely on the signalman - or, rather, men, because there were two of them in the box at the time. There was also contributory negligence by the fireman of the local who failed to carry out the operating rule for footplatemen, which required him to report in person to the signal box after his train had been held for more than a short period in the circumstances in which he found himself. I have not got the exact facts in front of me at the moment but, from memory, the cause turned on an irregular practice which had grown up between the signalmen. Because of late running, which was very common, due to matters such as poor rolling stock, overworked engines and the pressure of all the extra traffic due to the demands of the war, the signalmen had an agreement that, whenever the London trains were running late, the relief man would travel up to the box on the local, rather than walk so as to be there for the start of his shift. This suited both of them and it had happened numerous times in the recent past.

So as to disguise what was happening, the man who stayed on duty for the extra half hour or so made his log entries on a piece of paper, rather than in the log. The man coming on duty would then copy them when he finally arrived. On the day of the disaster, the two of them were distracted from their duty at a busy time, not only by falsifying the record as described, but also because they were discussing the war news. The situation immediately before the crash was complex, but not inherently dangerous and, had the men in the box been giving their full attention to the actual traffic situation, instead of nattering to each other and forging the log, the accident would not have occurred.

The blame rested on the signalmen and the law took its course. There was no need for 'German agents' or anything similar to be invoked to explain what happened. It was negligence, pure and simple.

Jack

#13 GC Jack

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 08:27 AM

Thanks for the replies.

Negligence yes - wider than the two signalmen? J.A.B. Hamilton in his book certainly considered the design of the signal box as a contributory factor, and in later correspondence, John Thomas, who also wrote on the accident, agreed with Hamilton on this.

Thanks for the Lords Monkswell statement.

Christian Womar in his book "Engines of War" refers to the attempts by British railway companies to maintain a "Business as Usual" attitude and were slow to adapt to the realities of the extra war time traffic. There was pressure on operating staff to maintain peace time schedules, hence the shunting of the local train onto the opposite main line.

A later - and little known investigation - by the Depute Procurator Fiscal in Dumfries, whilst reaching a similar conclusion that the signalman were negligent, cross examined a manager of the Caledonian Railway very diligently on many issues, which in my opinion, should have been raised at earlier hearings.

As regards Tom's answer, I can only but agree with his analysis.

Thanks for the interest.

Jack

PS I am trying to find details of a drummer boy killed in the accident. Robert Nicholson Royal Scots no 1684. I believe he was the youngest soldier that died. Can anyone help?

#14 John Duncan

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 08:53 PM

"PS I am trying to find details of a drummer boy killed in the accident. Robert Nicholson Royal Scots no 1684. I believe he was the youngest soldier that died. Can anyone help?"


Robert Nicholson resided with his parents at 16 Balfour Street, Leith, a check of the 1911 census should bring up his age, seen a photo of him and would put him in the 17-18 age bracket



John

#15 GC Jack

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 10:23 AM

"PS I am trying to find details of a drummer boy killed in the accident. Robert Nicholson Royal Scots no 1684. I believe he was the youngest soldier that died. Can anyone help?"


Robert Nicholson resided with his parents at 16 Balfour Street, Leith, a check of the 1911 census should bring up his age, seen a photo of him and would put him in the 17-18 age bracket



John



Thank you very much John, very helpful. Can I obtain this photo? Is it subject to copyright?

Best wishes,

Jack

#16 GC Jack

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 08:39 AM

To remember today all those lost in this terrible tragedy.

22nd. May 1915

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#17 rjaydee

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 09:47 AM

Scotland 1901 census has four Robert Nicholsons born/lived Leith 1898.1899,1900 and 1901. God Bless all who died on this day. :poppy:

#18 GC Jack

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 10:25 AM

Scotland 1901 census has four Robert Nicholsons born/lived Leith 1898.1899,1900 and 1901. God Bless all who died on this day. :poppy:


Indeed yes.

#19 RobL

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 06:04 PM

Is this your book?

 

http://www.dailyreco...y-story-2474377

 

From my research for 'The North Eastern Railway in the First World War' I was given to understand that railways would not be able to war profiteer as they were controlled by the Railway Executive Committee and the amount of money the railway received each year was based on pre-war levels to avoid profiteering or alternatively losing out





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