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Introduction May and June 1946
April to June 1945 July 1946
July to September 1945 August 1946

October to December 1945

September to December 1946
January and February 1946 January 1947
March and April 1946

INTRODUCTION (1943 to early 1945)

This website is based on an account written by G.E.Rabone in 1983 and originally published by Stephen Rabone under the title "On His Majesty's Service". The text recounts the travel experiences of my father during his time as a member of the Royal Air Force in Western Europe in the period immediately before and after the end of the Second World War. The text draws heavily upon the notes contained in the detailed travel diary which he kept during these years (part of which is reproduced below). It is hoped that readers will find this account a source of much valuable information about this largely forgotten period of railway history. The original text is largely unaltered as written in 1983 and therefore contains certain references that are now out-of-date. I have preferred not to amend the original text as written by G.E.Rabone.  

Railway enthusiasts, now in late middle age, who served in H.M Forces during the Second World War, must all retain special memories of journeys and railway experiences. The writer was able to keep detailed records of all the locomotives seen during four and a half years with the R.A.F. in the United Kingdom, in North America and in Western Europe. 

Early in 1943, I remember seeing Great Western Railway No. 2800 banked by No. 6100, an Old Oak Common 2-6-2T, taking an enormous freight out of the lay-by and up Dainton incline. Later that year I saw Al class No. 2561 ‘Minoru’ on a King’s Cross to the North train, of twenty coaches clanking, wearily and filthy dirty, into Retford. I had seen ‘Hinoru’ in sparkling green on the last pre-war Grand National Pullman special at Mottram on the Woodhead line in March 1939. 

In the autumn of 1943, I met the New York Central ‘Hudsons’ and the ugly New York Central electric locos at the changeover station at Harmon outside New York. Then there were the Canadian National Railroad 4-8-4s passing on the east and westbound ‘Ocean Limited’ at a loop in the forests of eastern Quebec. There were many more of these monsters at the Canadian National repair works which adjoined the R.A.F. camp at Moncton, New Brunswick. 

Early in 1944, in Ulster, I saw most of the smart 2-6-0s and 4-4-0s of the Northern Counties Committee in Midland Red and even one of the blue compound 4-4-0s, ‘Falcon’, at the Great Northern Railway of Ireland station in Belfast.

I think, however, that what I remember most clearly from the whole period in uniform was my first German loco, a streamlined ‘Pacific’ 01.1095, in the drab camouflage livery used by the Reichsbahn towards the end of the War. It  lay derelict, but apparently undamaged, on the Frankfurt to Kassel line just north of Marburg, by the road along which our small convoy of radar trucks was passing in April 1945.


I had been, for over nine months, one of the crew of a small mobile radar station and, after various journeys and wanderings in the U.K., we went to France in the Summer of 1944, landing at the Mulberry floating harbour. We moved about in northern France, then to the Ardennes district of Belgium and on to a small town near Antwerp in northern Belgium. We crossed into the small isolated piece of the Netherlands called Zeeland Flanders and finally, in the early spring of l945, across to Roermond in Limburg province, where we remained for several weeks. Here we were joined to a larger unit of about forty-five men, to work as their stand-by station. Our own Commanding Officer refused to live in the town, which had been battered by bombing or street-fighting, or both, so we lived in tents on open land outside the town, and about one and a half miles from the German frontier. The radar was all in the town so we had to commute to and fro, day and night, by truck, or on the motor-bike pillion of one of our army dispatch riders.

I see from my diary for the latter part of 1944, and until we reached Roermond, that I saw mainly Belgian locomotives, together with quite a few U.S.Army 2-8-0s and W.D.2-8-0s and 2-10-0s. In the docks area at Antwerp, where we went to collect rations in the late autumn, I saw several antique tank engines shunting, No.5152 a 0-6-0PT, No. 5707 a 2-6-2ST and two side tank 0-6-0s, Nos. 5811 and 5817. On one of these ‘ration runs’, as we called them, I saw a very English-looking 4-4-0 at Zwyndrecht near Antwerp. Most of the Belgian locos I saw were at Mons in the south, where we had to go regularly. There was very heavy traffic running through this station. Mons is in the Borinage, the rich coalfield district of southern Belgium, and there was much mineral traffic. I noted that many of the American locos were from Aulnoye, a French shed just over the border from Mons.

Shortly before we moved to Roermond, I travelled on the Malines-Terneuzen railway, a small private line which then began on the main line from Brussels to Antwerp and ran across country over the Scheldt at Temsche, where we had been throughout the later Autumn and early Winter of 1944, and over the frontier into Zeeland-Flanders. It ended at the port of Terneuzen on the Scheldt estuary. The bridge over the Scheldt at Temsche had been destroyed, either by bombing or perhaps by the Germans when they retreated shortly before. So the Malines—Terneuzen railway ran only from Temsche to Terneuzen. I saw the station at Temsche without realising that trains were running. Shortly after our move over the border to the small Dutch town of Axel, I travelled on the line from there to Ternuezen. 

The booking clerk at Axel spoke French when he realised I had no Flemish. He gave the fare to Terneuzen return as " deux florins" - two florins, or Dutch guilder. That day, I saw the three M.T.R. locomotives; very British-looking 0-6-0s they were, Nos. 28, 30 and 31. Terneuzen was not very cheerful, full of British sailors, many of them wearing khaki battledress, like me. They would be off mine-sweepers, or something to do with the clearing of the estuary of the big rivers which flow into the North Sea nearby.

In April 1945, just after Easter, on April 1st (the R.A.F.’s twenty-seventh birthday) we left Roermond; our small sixteen-man crew now joined more or less permanently to the larger unit with its more powerful radar. I stayed with them for the rest of my service. The last thing I noted before we crossed into Germany was a W.D. 2-8-0 No. 77299, on a train of olive-green U.S.Army four-wheeled vans, passing over a level crossing on the outskirts of the town. This would be the line, now electrified, which runs between Venlo and Maastricht. The road over the border was very bumpy, full of roughly filled shell or mine holes.

EARLY DAYS IN GERMANY (April to June 1945)

The first big German town we reached was München-Gladbach (now Mönchen-Gladbach) and the first German civilian I remember, standing on a street corner, was a blonde girl in a dark-blue spring dress. I recall that the driver of my truck looked hard at her and wolf-whistled to himself. The first locomotive we saw as we bumped along through the dusty and scruffy streets was, rather naturally, an American 2-8-0. We turned south here and saw yet another at Bonn, from the Kaisertrasse, the train-spotter's paradise which runs by the west-bank Köln to Koblenz main line. We stayed the night, and  the next three days, in the Johanniter Hospital, between Bonn and Bad Godesberg. This had once belonged to the German Order of St. John and stood about a quarter of a mile from the main line and quite near to the Rhine, but was undamaged. Before the Americans arrived it had been filled with German wounded and these had been evacuated in a great hurry. It had been left in a mess with soiled bedding, stained dressings and so on, so we tidied things up ourselves. There was an American army mobile bath and laundry nearby, so we got welcome showers and haircuts as well as clean underwear.

There was no time in this short halt for anything but cleaning up and getting ready to move again. On the fourth day, our convoy crossed over the 'General Hodges' pontoon bridge to the east bank of the Rhine. This bridge was a wood and steel roadway laid across Rhine barges and was carrying very heavy traffic indeed; lorries, tanks on transporters, fuel tankers etc. It went from Godesberg to Nieder Dollendorf and has long since gone, there being nearby bridges today. We went east through heavily wooded hill country, the Westerwald and the Schiefergebirge. I remember crossing one rusted single-track line, probably at the ruined town of Altenkirchen. We went on and on through woodland as far as Marburg. Here we turned north and, at Colbe, where a temporary road bridge crossed over the River Lahn - no railway bridge at this time - where I saw that first Deutsche Reichsbahn engine, No. 01.1095. Before the War  there was little information available for the schoolboy railway enthusiast about Germany. I could see, however, that the engine was a big express loco, rather like the L.N.E.R. A4s or the L.M.S.R. ‘Coronations’, but I could make out little other than its number and type. I did not imagine then that one of the same class would come to Steamtown at Carnforth, for preservation in Bundesbahn black and red, in the 1970s.

The long day was ending at last as we went up road 252 to Munchhausen. Here I remembered the tales of Baron von Munchhausen read when learning German in the last two years at school. We turned on to road 236 past Bromskirchen, where the three of us had a laughable meeting with the American Army in the following Summer, and through the central crossroads of an upland village, Winterberg in Westfalen, where I stayed for the next twenty-one months. This was the place from which I set out on some fascinating, and often quite unlawful, trips by lorry and train to see what I could of the German railways. We kept on for two or three more miles up to the highest hill-top in the district, the famous Kahler Asten. At 842 metres it is a little higher than Mickle Fell in the Pennines. Today the Kahler Asten is the premier mountain sports venue of northern Germany. There we set up camp quickly as it was getting dark and drizzling. There were German troops round about, from the Army cut off in the Ruhr district. They were surrendering all the time and two of my pals, roaming the hill-top woods a day or two later came across six and promptly disarmed them and marched them into our camp. That first night, I got a guard duty from midnight until 4 a.m., something else to remember from that day! So began twenty-one months which turned out to be almost a railway enthusiast’s delight.


As we had arrived at what was to be our final halting-place in Germany, though none of us realised it then, the first thing was to set up the usual R.A.F. camp life; watch-keeping duties, guards, kitchen-work and other manual work in the camp, and journeys by truck for rations, technical equipment and fuel. By late May, men were starting to go home on leave, travelling by truck as far as rail-heads in Belgium or France and then, in the autumn, from Germany direct. Our radar station on the Asten had three ‘slave’ stations; one near Gotha the R.A.F. moved later in the Summer to the Wasserkuppe airfield near Fulda, in the U.S.Zone, which the early Luftwaffe had used for gliding and powered aircraft. The second ‘slave’ was near the Nurburgring race track in the Eiffel hills, then in the French Zone, whilst the third was on a hill-top in the Teutoburger forest near Osnabrück. We had American Army rations at this time; plenty of sweet foods but not much bread. Round about the same period I collected a lot of the small American ‘K’ ration-packs which I used on my railway wanderings in 1946. They contained powdered drinks, fruit and coffee, biscuits and fruit and meat concentrates. We went back on British Army rations in the Summer when the Occupation Zones were set up. An American Armoured Division left and was replaced by British infantry of the 49th West Riding Division (the Polar bear Division), though our nearest army neighbours were a battalion of Royal Scots Fusiliers. All my numbered letters home from the continent were kept by my parents; there were 201 of them by January 1947. They make fascinating reading nearly forty years on. However, they are very discreet about my private railway wanderings. Letter censorship ended in May 1945 but I seem to have been careful not to mention some of my doings in case of random censorship. There is plenty about what we did off-duty, about girls once the  ban ended; the troops called it ‘fratting’, about film shows, prospects of leave and so on. On the matter of ‘fratting, the American Forces Radio, to which we all listened, had a very silly catch phrase, ‘The leopard doesn’t change his spots.’ We reckoned though that the Americans were the biggest 'fratters’ of all! But that is enough of military matters.

Our first change came at the end of April, when the combined unit of sixty-odd men moved into an empty, medium-sized hotel by the forest at the foot of the Asten. It was appropriately called the ‘Waldhaus’. This we called our “domestic” site and that at the Asten summit the ‘tech’ site. We very soon set up aerials etc. at the top of the Asternturm, a high round tower, about 120 feet high with an observation platform at the top, and an empty restaurant building below. These hill-top towers are found everywhere in Germany; the Germans seem to be fascinated by hill-top views. The ‘Waldhaus’ was quite undamaged but completely bare of furnishings, having been used latterly, so we heard, by European slave-workers who took everything when they left. It was there we heard the news of the end of the war in Europe and also the first weather forecasts for six years. Most of us, too, tried venison for the first time. Four of us, W.T. Operators, found a small collection of chamber pots which were very useful at night as our room was far from the bathroom. 

To me the most important thing was to find a complete set of the five-part ‘Reichs-Kursbuch’ of July 1944, published by the Post Office and the Reichsbahn. This was not the familiar book but a smaller text and layout, beautifully printed but with different table numbers to the standard ‘Kursbuch’. Its only weakness was its small, badly set-out maps. Even so it was a mine of information and I spent hours studying it.  It came home with me in 1947 and is still referred to. 

Towards the early summer, our Commanding Officer, a Canadian with a German name, decided that the fifteen of us on the smaller unit should move down into Winterberg village to a small ‘Gasthaus’ in the centre of the village. My own first meeting with a civilian was when I asked a very attractive girl, the eighteen year old daughter of the widow who owned the ‘Gasthaus’, if she would darn one of my socks for me, in my best school German! This girl married one of my friends in 1949.

On 9th May, I saw my second German loco, No. 44.905, at Fritzlar on KBS 532. A few weeks later, I went on duty to Marburg (KBS 520). On the way south we passed a Prussian BR56 and a BR57 (2-8-0 and 0-10-0) on the local Bestwig—Winterberg—Frankenberg line, on a freight (KBS 355 and now open only as far as Winterberg). At Cölbe on the main line there was rail traffic again. I saw a BR52 double-heading a BR44 on a heavy northbound freight. There was a temporary American bridge over the Lahn but 01.1095 had gone. 

In mid-June, I went on the first of my five leave journeys back home, first by lorry to Mons and then on to Brussels, where we took a train from Schaerbeek to Calais. On this run, with numerous stops for the engine, a W.D. 2-8-0, to get up more steam, most of us climbed down on to the track, to pick flowers. On the way to Mons, I saw 01.1097, streamlined and derailed, in a cutting before a tunnel near Düren (KBS 440). This is a very old route and perhaps the best known of all lines to British travellers, running from Belgium to Aachen and Köln. It was out of use with 52 destroyed bridges until May 1946 - so all rail traffic went via München Gladbach. 

Apart from many Belgian locos at Schaerbeek, a Dutch 4-4-0  3727, and an ex-German 2-10-0, Belgian No. 2514 both passed on Military trains. The journey home to Lancashire lasted five days and the return as many as twelve, though I think I was in ill in bed for two or three days at Mons. The delays, of course, were at various transit camps and barracks, especially when waiting for transport such as a truck from one’s own unit.

SUMMER 1945 (July to September)

For some reason there were about a score of wagons in the station sidings, all derailed but upright. These were laboriously re-railed during July using an engine, a chain and planks. At the outset, passenger traffic was two through trains from Bestwig to Frankenberg, early morning and evening, crossing at Winterberg. A conditional train, about midday, appeared in the February 1946 and, by July 1946, there were three regular trains each way, but none on Sundays. The normal locos were the hefty top-heavy looking BR 93 2-8-2Ts, BR 58 small 2-10-0s, both versions of the BR 56 2-8-0s and even one day late in July 1945, 57.2627, a Prussian 0-10-0.

 In this high Summer period, the only time I got away from Winterberg was when two of us took a truck to Mandern on the Brilon to Korbach—Wabern line (KBS 532), very near to Fritzlar. We went to get diesel oil and petrol in huge drums and Jerry-cans. We had to man-handle the lot with some help from the Americans who ran the fuel dump. The northern end of this line was disused with a broken bridge between Selbach and Netze. Three old BR 55 O-8-0s (Prussian G8) stood undamaged but dead and rusting on a siding in the boiling sun; no camera unfortunately.

  My second home leave journey was quite exciting. Three of us left Winterberg by road, very early, on the way to the Rhein-Main airfield at Frankfurt on August 15th. A R.A.F. Lancaster was supposed to take a load of R.A.F. leave men but never appeared. It was, of course, V.J.Day and nothing was flying at Rhein-Main. The Americans seemed to be having noisy parties in various huts and buildings. We were getting very fed-up and worried when, towards evening a R.A.F. Dakota, flown by two Warrant Officers, appeared. We begged a lift in this worn-looking and very noisy cargo plane to Northolt airfield in London. On reporting to the official R.A.F. departure airfield near Huntingdon (where I saw L.N.E.R. 10000 painted black and on a fitted freight) we got into trouble for taking an unofficial lift home, despite the non-arrival of the Lancaster and were told to return via London and Belgium. We had overnight stops at London, Tilbury, Blankenberghe and Mons. Our road journey after Köln was through the Bergischland, a lovely hilly wooded district, often alongside KBS 416 and 415. No traffic was running and the only locos were dead or damaged Prussian types.


I spent early September 1945 in Winterberg and the only note­worthy visitor, apart from the usual locos mentioned earlier, was the first I had seen of the light 2-10-0s of BR 50, 50.2671, one of the UK series, the forerunners of BR 52, the ‘Kriegsloks’. I went once by truck to the main local town, Arnsberg, and this took me along side the Ruhr Valley line; Hagen—Bestwig—Warburg—Kassel (KBS 350). The infant River Ruhr rises at a spring on a wooded hill just north of Winterberg. Arnsberg, though little damaged, had two bridges across a loop of the Ruhr and separated by a short tunnel. Both had been destroyed but by this time were partly restored for single-track working with the usual U.S. Army bridging. The westerly bridge, a stone viaduct of several arches over the deep gorge of the river at this point, was still only partly rebuilt when I left in January 1947. The tunnel mouth had been wrecked in an attempt to block it. It was here that I got a good view of the splendid BR 44 2-10-0s which I discovered were in charge of the heavy coal and coke trains from the Ruhr mines into the U.S.Zone near Kassel and probably on into the Russian Zone.

Later that month, the wireless mechanic and I went to our H.Q. at Mons to get various spares for vehicles and radio gear. As usual, we went through the Bergischland to Köln, Aachen and then on to Liége. My colleague had got to know a Belgian family in Liége and they pressed us to stay overnight. We slept on mattresses in the lounge which over­looked the famous incline up which the Liege to Brussels line climbs out of the Meuse valley. There was traffic moving up and down all night. There were. of course many U.S.Army 2-8-0s, some 0-10-0Ts used as bankers and three of the odd-looking long-framed Flamme Pacifics, besides much else. Next day in Mons, I spent some time near the station but saw nothing but Belgian locos apart from an old World War One vintage U.S.Army 4-6-0, then in Belgian stock.

AUTUMN 1945 (October to December)

For three weeks in September and October, seven of us from our four radar stations were at H.Q. at Bad Godesberg - at the Johanniter Hospital - to do a heavy technical building job.  The Rhine west bank route from Köln through Bonn to the south, KBS 600, was in full use and I spent as much time as I could by the trackside near the hospital. I was still not willing to do any shed-bashing, nor did I try to get hold of a railway timetable. Most of the trains were freights and were in charge of BR 50s with the odd BR 42 or 52. 1 saw one P8; 38.1402 in Bonn Hbf. and altogether six BR 39s, the Prussian three-cylinder 2-8-2s, mostly on the few passenger trains made up of old Prussian four and six-wheeled coaches.

The shed at Bonn was a standard Reichsbahn half-moon round a turntable and not, I think, damaged. On the one time I went close to it, I saw my first loco in the pre-war black and red livery; 50.182 (Bw Köln-Nippes) with large smoke deflector plates. Early in 1946, back in Winterberg, I obtained, from local railway men, the February timetable for RBD Wuppertal and the complete January Kursbuch for the whole American Occupation Zone. At that time, only seven passenger trains ran in each direction through Bonn. Three were P-trains from Köln to Remagen, at the Zone border with the French Occupation Zone. D270 ran from Köln to Mainz (depart 0755, arrive 1248) and three P-trains ran through Remagen from Köln to Koblenz. The north-bound services corresponded. The through service from Köln to Frankfurt ran on the west bank of the Rhine, not from the Hbf. but from Deutzerfeld, as the Hohenzollern Bridge was not restored until later in 1946. According to the January time­table, this service was a conditional daytime E-train taking from 0851 to 1538 for the journey. There were also two through P-trains taking about nine hours for the journey with stops at all stations. When the job at Bonn was completed, we all returned to our units. I remained at Winterberg from mid-October 1945 until January 1947, except for home leaves, two short leaves inside Germany and a four-week course at Bückeburg. I have often regretted I did not do more in the short time I was at Bad Godesberg and Bonn, but the whole district was alive with British troops, from the Guards’ Division, and, with plenty of Military Police around, I decided that too much railway observation was a bit risky. But perhaps I was wrong. In Winterberg, everyone’s main interest - apart from the prospects of leave and meeting local girls - was the approach of winter and possible early snow for skiing and sledging. In the event nothing heavy fell until mid-January. During the autumn, I did not leave the village and saw only a few local trains; freight and passenger. 38.3410, previously seen derelict at Bestwig shed, came up one day in November and the first BR 42 seen  in Winterberg was 42.1080, at about the same time. Just before Christmas 1945 I went on my third home leave and, this time, it was almost completely by rail. We went by truck to Neheim in the middle Ruhr valley (KBS 350). Part of this little town was swept away by the flood when the Möhne Dam was smashed in 1943 by the R.A.F. Houses by the roadside still showed stains up to the first floor window level from the muddy waters. Acres of land at the north end of Neheim were swept clear by the flood. We took a train of five standard DRG coaches in charge of 38.2153 (Bw Arnsberg), ran by the bomb-damaged yard at Geisecke, ( just east of Schwerte where routes from Wuppertal split for Hamm and for Kassel), and then round the avoiding line past RAW Schwerte( the workshops not being much damaged I thought) and then on to KBS 400 towards Hamm. At Hamm I saw my first standard BR01s; 01.009, 059 and 070 which were, I think , on shed. In Münster Hbf. I saw my first BR 03; 03.090. Our train ran round to the north of the town, where there was a single track branch up to the local transit barracks, a former Wehrmacht place, cavernous and chilly. Next day we went off early behind 50.061 for the Hook of Holland. At the frontier at Bentheim, a Dutch 4-6-0, no. 3729 took over. On this first DRG journey, the main interest, apart from the numerous smaller Prussian locos, were the ubiquitous BR 50s and the first non-streamlined Pacifics. Those, I later found, worked almost all the expresses on the level North German plain. The marshalling yards at Hamm, Münster and Rheine were still in a terrible mess, though there was recovery work going on everywhere. How these railway men managed on the poor civilian rations I never understood. 

I returned to Germany early in January 1946 but most of my journey was in darkness. We had the same P8 as before on the train to Neheim. Back in Winterberg I found there was plenty of snow at last, and almost everyone on the unit had obtained skis and was learning quickly. I took several good photos at this time in Winterberg station, including 58.1218 and 56.2776 in very sunny weather. The driver of the second engine had worked in America before the War and spoke perfect American-

WINTER 1946 (January and February)

It was about this time that I began to think that if I was careful, I might do a bit of real train-spotting. Most days, one of our trucks went for rations etc. to an army depot near Hagen. I was working on either a three or a four watch system of duties and, with the latter, it was possible to go off for the better part of the day, by taking a lift in one of our trucks. There were no other troops for miles around and there was very little risk of being stopped. Nonetheless, to cover myself just in case, I made out a R.A.F. leave-form stating I was "authorised to travel by military or civilian transport anywhere within a radius of ..... miles of Winterberg, including...." (and I gave a list of local towns). I scrawled an illegible signature at the foot, but was never called upon to show documents, except on one amusing occasion in the summer of that year.

My first trip was down to Bestwig a railway village on KBS 350 and near the junction for the Winterberg line. It had a small undamaged yard and a standard half-moon shed around a turntable. The shed carried a big collection of smaller and older locos BR 38, 55, 56, 58 and 93 for the local branch lines, many of which are now closed. There were BR 44s for the main-line traffic to the west and east. Just east of Bestwig was Nuttlar, the actual Junction for KBS 355 to Winterberg and Frankenberg, and the main line began to climb steeply, at about 1 in 60, out of the Ruhr valley up to a summit tunnel between Elleringhausen and Brilon Wald. BR 44s were also used on this stretch as bankers. 

At Bestwig, there were a Royal Engineers Corporal and two or three men generally in charge of the railway. The Corporal was friendly and when I told him of my interest, he said I could go ahead and visit as often as I wanted. Around the shed were a number of undamaged derelicts, BR 44s, 50s and 58s, including 44.845 built at Nantes, France in 1942.

That day there were thirteen 44s on shed and I took several interesting photographs. After this first success, I went in mid-February down to Arnsberg, about 28 km west of Bestwig. Here there was a small parallel-road shed by the station, which stands east of the tunnel. The foreman let me look around and when I left I gave him a packet of cigarettes, which was something of a currency at the time. I don’t smoke so this was no hardship and was a good way of saying ‘thankyou’ to these helpful and friendly railway men. They always opened up when they heard of my interest in the railway. Arnsberg had several BR 74 2-6-0Ts for branches in the Sauerland hills and 38s. 58s , 93s and a 92 0-8-0T.

 Also there were one "Kleinlok", Kö 0267 and one of the very last-built of the BR 50s, 50.3156, with an enclosed cab like a "Kriegslok". There was a small BR 56; 56.595 with plates shoving RBD Ost Bw Krolewschisma This place is not given in the index to my 1944 "Kursbuch" and presumably 595 was a loco which had served in the Soviet Union in 1943/44 before the German retreat.

EARLY SPRING 1946 (March and April)

Early in March, the weather was a little better for getting about by road and on foot, so I took a lift west to the very hilly Lenne valley line (KBS 360 Hagen—Siegen—Giessen—Frankfurt). I left the truck at Altenhunden and the driver promised to look out for me on his return. This village is at the foot of the long incline leading south to a summit tunnel near Kreutztal. Over this line went much coal from the Ruhr to steel works at Siegen as well as  to Frankfurt and the U.S. Zone. 

The locos shedded here, as at Bestwig, were a big squad of BR 44s used both as train engines and as bankers. There were thirty on shed that day with nine more derelicts in sidings by the shed. Among the derelicts, there was one of the big pre-war 2-8-2Ts of BR 86, 86.492 from Bw Olpe. On the return from here I had to walk much of the way.

74.1067, a 2-6-0T, ran by on the roadside line (Altenhunden- Fredeburg; former KBS 239a and now closed). I got a lift for about thirteen miles in a 3-ton truck driven by a German. He was in the "Arbeitsdienst" (Labour Service), a British army unit of German P.O.W.s not yet released and usefully employed on general labouring duties. He was glad of company and very chatty. When I finally got back, I was pretty tired after a long trudge over lonely, snowy roads but very pleased with the day’s results. After this trip, I decided to go as regularly as possible on local journeys by lorry (or as happened, in the event, by local train) to sheds or on trackside observation when officially off-duty. The only snag was that every trip by lorry, or local train, to the nearest mainline at Nuttlar was about 24km.

Successive journeys in March and April took me first to Arnsberg, and then back to Nuttlar, where I saw 52.5261 of Bw Warburg, a new class for me on this line. It was being banked by a BR93 and, also seen that day, was 94.751 returning down the bank light engine. I finished this day out by travelling for the first time by civilian train, without a ticket. It was on the late afternoon train from Bestwig up to Winterberg behind 56.496 and was packed. A week later, towards the end of March,  I went by lorry on a long trip to Soest (KBS 340/342) and this meant a lot of hitch-hiking and a return over the rebuilt Möhne Dam, whose lake was now refilled. The roundhouse and sidings at Soest had been damaged by bombing. Except for a BR 50, three 42s (including one completely destroyed and unidentifiable inside a wrecked shed) and a BR 62 4-6-4T. the locos on shed were all Prussian, BR 38s (one from Bw Frankfurt/Oder), 58s, 94s and 56s (one from Bw Seestadt Rostock). The next journey, at the end of the month, was by lorry to Brilon which was the nearest county town, or Kreistadt, to Winterberg. I went straight to Brilon Wald station (KBS 350) and took a train behind a P8 to Bestwig. The day was very bright so I took some quite good photos at the latter shed where a dead P8, a 42 and three 50s were to be found, all being newly allocated to Bestwig. Whilst waiting on Bestwig station for the late afternoon train up to Winterberg, I met the English-speaking driver seen earlier in the year. He insisted that I must travel with him on the footplate. This was my first and only long footplate ride. The engine was 93.738 and the fireman was a youth of about 17 who spoke no English. I tried to do some firing but made rather a mess on the cab floor! Firing is an art, as they both agreed, laughing. It was very impressive to see the way this hefty tank took its quite heavy train up the steep and very winding line into the hills and then over the top just north of Winterberg and down into the station. Here I climbed down on to the track on the offside to avoid going through the ticket barrier. The trip was well worth the packets of cigarettes I left with them.

Early in April, I went quite a long way, to a large main junction station to the east on KBS 350. This was Warburg, very close to the American Zone border. For some reason or other, I bought a ticket from Winterberg to Nuttlar and travelled 3rd class departing at 0747 . I still possess this particular ticket. After a short wait at Nuttlar, P601 arrived from the west behind 38.3443. This was an all stations train leaving Hagen at 0510 and reaching Warburg at 1120, 151km in just over six hours. For the first time I got in the ‘Dienstabteil’ which was a compartment in every train of non-corridor stock reserved for railway men travelling on duty, or ‘on the cushions’, as they say in Britain. I never had any difficulty in doing this, and an interesting conversation usually began especially as I always offered chocolate or cigarettes at the outset. Eating the chocolate with them was rather a penance as it was War-time ‘dark’ chocolate which I did not like, but it all helped. Bw Warburg was undamaged and there were plenty of locos stored dead there; BR 38s, 42s, 44s, 50s, 58s and one or two with boilers holed by cannon shells fired from aircraft. There were two BR 41s (one from Bw Sangerhausen) and a 78 4-6-4T, the first I had seen round there. The station was in charge of a Royal Engineers Sergeant who told me to see everything I wanted. On the return journey in P640 (Kassel to Hagen) and again hauled by 38.3443 of Bw Arnsberg, I noted at Scherfede an old 0-6-0, 53.7752 and a strange looking 4-6-0, 38.4611. The latter was a former Polish class 0k22. built in 1934 and taken into German stock in 1941. Both were very derelict looking. I found that the BR 53 was a Prussian engine given to Poland as reparations in 1918 and taken over again in I 941. I went through to Bestwig and changed straight into the train to Winterberg which was waiting at 1745. The train was again hauled by 56.2776. This had been another very successful journey.

My last trip out before the fourth home leave was not quite so good. I went west again to Altenhunden, and then north along the valley road to Finnentrop, where I dropped off the truck. There was a small shed here and a yard, both undamaged. As I was walking across, a German railway policeman came over and I suggested I really ought to get permission to go around and that I should phone the army at Siegen . I ‘chatted him up’ and offered cigarettes and he agreed I might look round, take photos and then go off with nothing said.

It was a bright spring day and I got a few snaps, including a very early BR 50; 50.025. There were BR 55s shunting, three BR 38s, all from Bw Hagen-Eckesey, but only two BR 44s. one being from Bw Vorhalle, a goods engine shed just north of Hagen on the Bochum line (KBS 330).

I went on my fourth home leave on April 16th by truck direct to Münster. The rail journey from Neheim had now been given up. We arrived at Münster quite early so I went into the ruined city from the barracks. I went to the shattered cathedral and saw the flower-covered grave of Cardinal von Galen (nicknamed ‘The lion of Münster’ because of his continual and outspoken criticism of the Nazi party) who had died shortly before. As I was in Münster officially, I went to the station and decided to ‘bash’ the shed which adjoined it. There were many BR 50s, some 55s and 56s, two dead 78s and three of the large 86 2-8-2Ts, also dead. In nearby carriage sidings was a P8; 38.1861 allocated formerly to RBD Ost, but with no shed plate; yet another evacuee from the Russian Front. I wrote in my diary about 52.2000 which passed hauling a ‘very large 12-wheeled tender’. This was the first I had heard or seen of the Kriegsloks fitted with condensing tenders for the long winter runs on the Eastern Front. Later in the year, mainly in the American Zone, I saw many more. On the way to Hook of Holland next morning, I again recorded many BR 50s, 55s  and 57s and a dead Prussian P10. 3-cylinder loco, 17.235 at Rheine. At the stop at Bentheim for an engine change (and for a quick meal and to collect sandwiches), I got a photo of 03.296 of Bw Osnabrück Hbf., whilst over the border at Hengelo was 38.1856 (NS 3853) commandeered by the Dutch.

LATE SPRING 1946 (May and June)

It was after the return journey from England, which began on April 30th 1946, that I decided to keep a separate detailed diary of my journeys on the Reichsbahn. With railway news from the Press, railway workings etc. I could clearly see that it would be a most interesting form of record, over and above the usual spotter's record of loco observations, dates and places. What follows from this point comes mainly from these two parallel diaries. On May 1st, the leave train from the Hook turned off at Utrecht and ran via Arnhem to Nijmegen. We changed engines here and had a W.D. 2-10-0 with a German crew. In the station was a Dutch train in charge of a W.D. 2-8-0 running from Roosendaal to Amsterdam and carrying blue Wagon-Lits coaches from Brussels to Amsterdam. What a contrast this train was to the aged Dutch passenger stock and the drab green German coaches. The broken bridges down the Dutch rivers meant that all traffic, rail and road had to make the detour, miles to the east, to Nijmegen. The frontier at Kranenburg was easily recognised by the much higher quality sleepers and ballast used in Germany. The Dutch track seemed to be laid on sand or smooth round pebbles with sleepers like something from cowboy days on the American plains. There was terrible battle destruction all the way past Kleve and Goch almost as far as Krefeld. The Reichswald forest fighting of February and March 1945 had been here. The track on this line (KBS 470) had been largely singled. Kevelaer was a big station for a small village. It had many through platforms with awnings. I found later that this was to accommodate pilgrimage trains to the shrine of Our Lady of Kevelaer in a great church in the village. W.D. 2-10-0s 73772 and 73772 were working near Krefeld. One of the Prussian P10 4-6-0s 17.218 was seen at Krefeld and also one of the four-cylinder engines 17.1175. At Krefeld Hbf., under the huge arched station roof, 03.197 took over and hauled us all the way to the barracks siding at Münster. For the first few miles we ran along the multiple track towards the destroyed bridges over the Rhine between Rheinhausen and Duisburg. We turned off to the north along KBS 476 and crossed over the river by a two-span, apparently undamaged bridge near Baerl. The train went over very slowly and then down to the junction with KBS 300 south of Oberhausen. We were held at the junction and a horde of children, young and older, ran along­side calling for bread and our sandwiches. “Haben Sie Brot’, was the cry and there followed a shower of bags of sandwiches, cigarettes, loose and in  packets, and even coffee. I wondered later if the engine crew stopped here deliberately to let this happen. At Oberhausen, I remembered a photo in the 1935 ‘Railway Wonders of the World’ in an article about some of the more remarkable German stations of the '30s. I recognised the rather unusual station frontage as we passed. It was getting dark now and apart from the long line of steelworks on either side of the four-track line through Gelsenkirchen I saw nothing but two BR 78s at Wanne-Eickel and then the signal lights as we ran through Dortmund Hbf.. The station buildings were in ruins but the track work seemed to have been restored. The next day in Münster, I decided to try to return to Winterberg by rail as I was alone on this journey and could please myself. I had a short wait at Münster Hbf. and there was the usual procession of BR 50s on goods trains passing both through and behind the station. A P-train from Rheine to Hamm came in and I got in the 2nd class, padded seats and quite clean, rather like being in a Midland Railway clerestory coach on the pre-war Lancaster to Morecambe electrics. The train engine was 38.3467 of Bw Dortmund Hbf. and like all other locos had a branch of tree greenery fastened to the upper lamp bracket, something to do with May Day I believe. In Hamm station was a BR 01 Pacific and three other undamaged but derelict 0ls at the nearby shed. From Hamm to Hagen I took another P-train going from Hamm to Köln-Deutz, but this time it was packed and I was lucky to get a seat in a queer long-wheelbase 4-wheel van converted for passenger use with wooden bench seats. There was nothing going at that time from Hagen on KBS 360 so I left the station and hitch­hiked in Military trucks to Bestwig and caught the usual early evening train up to Winterberg, behind 93.996.

I now began to note the traffic on the line through Winterberg using a pair of binoculars. The small Gasthaus which we took over in May 1945 in the village centre was now the sergeant’s Mess.. All the Radar and Wireless people lived about a quarter of a mile out of the village on Road 236 in a small hotel which overlooked the deep valley south of Winterberg. The railway dropped down a very steep incline from the station and through a short curved tunnel under the village centre, emerging in this valley, the Nuhnetal. There was a saw mill, rail linked, just down the line and the whole stretch of line was overlooked by our side of the hotel. The Unit H.Q. and Orderly Room and the Unit main Wireless station were here also. We W.T. Operators worked sometimes at the Hotel and sometimes at the Tech. site which had its own radio station. This nearness to Authority never bothered me; I reasoned that the safest place is always right under the light. The only unusual working I saw at this time was an unidentifiable BR 50 üK running south in mid-May.

One day when off-duty, I thought of visiting Wuppertal, but the truck broke down in Olsberg so I set off hitching. At 1330 I was only at Neheim and it looked like rain so I decided to cut it short and return by train. I caught P607,from Hagen to Warburg, at Neheim behind 38.3542. Three German railway police in the Dienstabteil looked rather unfriendly at first, but soon brightened up and we got talking . The train was, of course, packed and probably many of the passengers were going out to try to find potatoes etc. I heard later that the British and American occupation authorities were trying to stop this endless travelling to collect food. In Germany now, this unhappy period of history is called ‘die Hamsterjahre’, which means pretty well what it sounds like, a compulsive collecting of food ‘Just in case’. The west viaduct at Arnsberg was still unrepaired, with a walking pace speed restriction over it. There was shuttering in place for concrete and steel arch repairs, but nothing further. The policeman said that small bombs had smashed the two arches and not the big block-buster which had been dropped to cause the whole tunnel end to collapse. Fortunately, it had only blasted the tunnel mouth. All around the gorge were numerous small bomb craters. From the way all the railway men talked about the tunnel and viaduct attack, I got the impression that it was something they must relate to everyone who showed any interest at all, a kind of ‘mini’ Bielefeld viaduct attack. At Bestwig, on shed, was 44.1316 üK newly painted in shining black and red, a very splendid sight. In contrast, further on at Nuttlar was 38.3409 newly done in plain black and most surprisingly with a round Wannen-tank tender still in camouflage, clearly off a Kriegslok.

In the next off-duty time. I went for a day spotting on the main line east of Olsberg, near the foot of the incline. From 0900 to 1739 there were 13 loco movements only, one a BR 78 banker returning to Bestwig, a new type on this duty. But the one thing that made the day unforgettable was a Kassel to Düsseldorf  train of eight old, non-corridor, clerestory eight-wheelers behind 01 .212 of Bw. Hagen Eckesey. This train and the opposite working were P341 and P342, later becoming E-trains. O1s from Eckesey shed, of which more later, were evidently used on it, a welcome sign of improvements on the line. The coaching stock that day was like nothing more than a set of David Bain or Clayton clerestory non-corridors on the old Midland. Going back, I evidently had to walk quite a long way towards Winterberg, because there was no military traffic, and I took the narrow-gauge Steinhelle-Medebach train from Steinhelle to Niedersfeld. The engine was a 0-8-2T with outside cylinders built in 1926; S.M.E No. 5. This line, now long closed, ran by the main roadside from Steinhelle towards Winterberg and at Niedersfeld turned east and finally reached the large upland village of Medebach by a series of remarkable reversing inclines. I regret now not looking more at this line, which was so near to Winterberg, and which seems almost as eccentric in its own way as the famous Obstfelderschmeide Bergbahn in the DDR. 

Nearer the end of the month, a weeks apart, I had my two longest trips yet, to Hagen and Schwerte. On the first I went as far as Wuppertal to see a British civilian police official. He simply told me to get in touch with Army N.C.O.s in charge at the main stations and give his name if there were difficulties. So forthwith, I hitched straight to Hagen. In my diary, I see no mention of the Wuppertal ‘hanging railway’, the ‘Schwebebahn’. I vaguely remember seeing steel-work at one point over the river. Perhaps it was not then back in working order. At Hagen Eckesey shed, a big depot, two damaged 17s, 17.276 and 17.288, both of Bw Aachen were present together with six BR 41s. Most of these were in camouflage livery. The foreman told me about these splendid engines on troop trains, especially those from the East Front, though they had been intended for fast freight when introduced just before the War.  

My 1944 Kursbuch showed many of these trains as DmW and SFR (D-trains with ‘Wehrmachtteil’ and ‘Schnellfronturlauberzüge’. The SFRs had limited accommodation for civilians and often ran from strange places in Eastern Europe to the big German cities, for soldiers on leave. In sidings near Schwerte shed were two strangers, 58.300 (a former Baden railways loco of Prussian G12) and a very small camouflaged 0-8-0; 55.171 lettered ‘Ostbahn’.

Back at the station, I had a close look at 39.149 of Bw Hamm standing there light, a very fine looking engine indeed, built by Henschel at Kassel in 1924. I saw now that it was a three-cylinder class. It was strange how the foreman had spoken of both the 39s and 41s, and the same day I had been able to look closely at two examples of the classes. I went back to Bestwig that evening behind 01 .228 of Hagen Eckesey shed in P341 and set off from Bestwig to hitch. My luck was out, for once, as I only got to Bigge by Army truck and had to walk the rest of the way, about 17km and it soon went dark and then began to drizzle. It was a long walk indeed and I finally slipped into the hotel about 2am.


This long tramp home rather put me off travel in the British Zone and I decided to try my luck in the U.S.Zone which began only a few miles south of Winterberg. I never fancied being stopped and questioned by British Military Police and judged, correctly it turned out, that a British uniform, a British pass (even fictitious) and above all, a British accent, would see me through. Furthermore, by this time we were working a four-watch system which gave me a fair amount of off-duty time. So between early June and late July, I made four long journeys into the northern part of the U.S.Zone. They were within what is now Hessen. During two of them I stayed overnight in a transit barracks the Americans had set up in a large underground air-

The first trip was a day-outing to Giessen KBS 520), behind 93s to Frankenberg and then on KBS 530 to Cölbe and Marburg. Train D80 (Kassel to Frankfurt) ran past us near Cölbe, behind 01.1103 (Bw Kassel) and across the temporary Lahn bridge. At Marburg several U.S. Army 2-8-0s were lying dead; I shouldn’t imagine the German drivers would think much of these once their own locos started to run again. D80 was still in Marburg station, so I got in the coach reserved for U.S. servicemen. Main line trains in the U.S.Zone all carried a coach or two reserved for troops, unlike the British who preferred to keep all troops off civilian services and get them on special trains.

As the Pacific accelerated out of Marburg, I began to wonder if there were not a L.N.E.R. Pacific in front with the rapid exhaust beat. I did not realise that the 01.l0s were three-cylinder engines. All the usual DRG and Prussian locos were seen at Giessen with plenty of 50s and a few 44s. There were one or two of the small 2-6-2Ts of BR64. I decided against photography and ‘shed-bashing’: better safe than sorry. D375 (Frankfurt-Essen) came in behind 38.1410 (Bw Frankfurt 1) and reversed. It left for the north-west behind 39.221 of Bw Dillenburg. It was packed as I have rarely seen a train packed before or since. This was surprising as it had not seemed particularly full when I saw it the previous month at Hagen. A curiosity was 44.358 which had its allocation - Bw Dillenburg - painted on the boiler front and tender side but carried shed plates for RBD Halle. I returned to Marburg at the end of the afternoon behind a BR 50 üK on a P-train, in time to get the connecting trains on to Frankenberg and Winterberg. Another unusual thing at Giessen was a huge painted slogan on a retaining wall by the shed, ‘Nicht qualmen’ - don’t make smoke. A particularly striking thing about these lines in the U.S.Zone, at least, was the number of derelict locos abandoned in sidings at almost every station along the line and on the north-westerly line out of Kassel (KBS 340).

By this time, I was beginning to distinguish between parts of a large class such as the BR55 - some quite small; others with high numbers, much larger, and, the BR 93s with different shapes of cab. The following day I noted a Bestwig BR 94 0-10-0T at Winterberg which had come up to collect about 20 empty open wagons. There was a very great shortage of open wagons at this time and the Russians, who were taking black coal from the Ruhr district as reparations, were reputed not to be returning the empties; the coal in the Eastern Zone , unlike in the Western Zones was mainly brown coal or lignite.

On June 13th, I went again to Marburg on the early train. An early Kriegslok was on the main line to Cölbe. I caught D80 again to Giessen, with the same engine as before. A small 2-6-0 was on Marburg shed, 24.054, the first I had heard or seen of this much-liked class. There was another sign of restoration at Marburg; 44.847 towing 50.817 (Bw Limburg) and 50.1573(Bw Wetzlar) dead, very rusty and covered with clay and dirt. Clearly they had been recovered from a heavily bombed goods yard somewhere to the north. At Giessen I changed over very quickly, with about fifteen minutes wait, to P707 (Frankfurt- Giessen) behind 38.3045. All the way along this line, in addition to the numerous derelict, but apparently serviceable, locos, there was wrecked rolling stock, simply pushed down embankments or anywhere, as long as it was out of the way. There had certainly been much shooting-up of trains along here from Allied aircraft towards the War’s end.

As we approached Kassel, the line from Bebra and Bavaria (KBS 500) came in on the right and there was the famous Fulda river viaduct at Guntershausen. Seven of its arches were destroyed and a temporary wood and steel structure filled the gap. There are good pictures of it in Gottwaldt's 'Bundesbahn Album 1945-60' and of the present reconstructed one in ‘Die DB Heute’ by Wagner. The complex of junctions at Kassel ‘Bahndreieck’ was much damaged with a lot of track lifted to repair essentials. The shed did not appear damaged nor, at casual glance, did the nearby Henschel works seem too bad. The Hbf. with its eleven terminal faces was in full use, although the station buildings were in ruins. P707 arrived on time at 1530 behind 01.1104, built by Schwarzkopf of  Berlin in 1940 whilst I was waiting on the platform to take the train out. It was fully stream­lined with small smoke deflector plates on either side of the chimney. Although I had a good look at it, I still thought it to be merely a BR 01 with streamlined casing. I left Kassel at 1732 on P640 (Kassel-Altenbeken) behind an unknown P8 (KBS 340). As we passed the shed on the north side, there were three 'Kriegsloks' with the long condenser tenders. I was a bit worried about what might happen at the Zone border crossing station at Haueda, but though all civilians got off and back on the train after showing passes, I stayed in the train and was not even spoken to. At the next station, Warburg, I changed on to KBS 350 and went on to Bestwig in P616. I saw that the two BR 41s and the damaged BR 42 had gone since my visit on April 4th. The coach was an English-looking non-corridor eight-wheeler 2nd class and quite clean. At the next station, Scherfede, the junction of KBS 350 and 249 from Braunschweig and Kreiensen, was 44.577, one of the first of this class I had seen derelict at Bestwig at the beginning of the year, and now repainted and working from Bw Scherfede. It was 2215 when we arrived at Bestwig, the last train to arrive that day. A railway man suggested I should go into the trainmen’s restroom near the shed and so I ‘kipped-down’ there on the bench for the night. No one batted an eyelid, surprisingly, when I told them what I was doing.

Next morning I went up to Winterberg on the 0515 behind 93.999. It seems that I did not go to bed when I landed back, as I noted with binoculars a heavy train of 42 coal empties hauled by 57.2627 and banked by 93.738 coming up the valley from the American Zone.

SUMMER 1946 (July)

After this I had twelve days of duty and hot weather off-duty time in an around the village. The biggest hotel in the district was the Kurhaus which had an open air swimming pool and, when this was filled, we spent much time in and around it. The forest of course was unbearably hot and insect ridden as might be expected among coniferous trees.

My next journey was a day at Bestwig to watch the traffic west of the station. The first thing I saw was another newly repainted loco in black and red; 44.1267 üK of Bw Bestwig fitted with a Kriegslok round-tank tender. About noon, 38.2988 (Bw Düsseldorf Derendorf) went towards Hagen with a five coach special, not apparently carrying passengers, comprising two eight-wheeled clerestory non-corridors, a standard bogie luggage van and two standard corridor thirds. These were marked, on the usual hanging destination board, 'Probezug-Nicht Einsteigen'; test train, do not board. P606 (Warburg-Hagen) due out at 1120, left at 1230 behind 38.2978 having been brought in by 44.733 of Bw Warburg. No doubt this meant a loco failure to the east. It was the first BR 44 I had seen on a passenger working. The 44 returned east later in the afternoon on a P-train.

After two weeks without travelling any distance, I went on July 10th on a two-day trip. The early afternoon train south from Winterberg was double-headed with two BR 93s. Another 93 was on the Frankenburg-Marburg train. At Marburg D 79(Frankfurt—Kassel) came in behind 01.147 which was replaced ,for some reason, by 50.1703 leaving 40 minutes late. 38.2972 and 50.1413 passed through non-stop with a long special full of women and children; an Army special from the U.S. port at Bremerhaven . The Americans were beginning to bring in the families of the troops. D79,in contrast, had ten six-wheelers of various kinds and two 2nd class bogie corridors for servicemen. 

We stopped after 35 minutes running at Kirchhain with faulty brakes and did not restart for 80 minutes, behind another 50 üK of Bw Treysa. During the long wait a U.S. Army mail train (two corridors and seven bogie mail vans) passed behind 01.1099 going north and a military train for Berlin went through behind a BR 50üK. This had 1st and 2nd class DRG corridors, a ‘Mitropa’ diner and a ‘Wagon-Lits’ saloon. It was full of French and American officers. Poor old D79 finally staggered into Kassel Hbf. well after dark, two and a half hours late. This time I went straight to the American Army transit depot in the air raid shelter, outside the station, primitive but clean and with respectable bedding. Next morning I got up early, had a cold water wash but did not try to get an American breakfast, instead eating one of my ration packs. I had this sitting on the platform in lovely summer weather waiting for D198 (Kassel-München-Gladbach via Soest). It came over an hour late from the carriage sidings and had two standard bogie corridors and two of the old non-corridor coaches with a clerestory. The loco was a BR 50. Several BR 52 and 41s were running in and around the Hbf. and the shed. From the station I noticed what was undoubtedly a coach of L.M.S.R. outline, though in DRG green. A German railway man said it was ‘ein sehr alte Bauart’; a very old fashioned style. No doubt he meant its curved profile rather like some of the old Prussian six-wheelers. We decided it must have come from a British hospital train marooned in France in 1940. I collected the numbers of a long row of derelicts outside Kassel, mainly BR 50s.

Two more corridors and a mail van were added at Warburg, the first station over the border in the British Zone. From there we took KBS 340. At Altenbeken was a derelict BR39; 39.090. The great curved viaduct here had been broken in two places and five arches altogether had gone. It had been repaired with the usual steelwork. In the town, I noted that most of the bombing damage had been made good with much new timberwork on buildings. In Neuenbeken stood a German-type 4-6-0; No. 6454, rather like a P8, with high pitched boiler or low boiler mountings. This would be a World War One reparations loco which had drifted back from east or  west. From the train, Paderborn, an old cathedral town, did not seem too badly damaged, though modern guide books speak of very heavy air-raid damage. We were now only fifteen minutes late at Soest, where I got off. In the yards at the east end of Soest there were few locos, but much rolling stock trapped in wrecked sidings. I got a lift in an Army truck over the hills south of the town to Meschede and so on to Bestwig, where I took the 17.50 train up to Winterberg behind 93.999.

A few days later, I went with two of my pals to Marburg. They, of course, knew of my wanderings and wanted to see an American Zone town. One was a Scot and the other from Berkshire and very voluble. The Scot, G., and I, let K. do all the talking and we got very good snacks in an American Army club in the undamaged town. Marburg is a very old university town and was full of Americans. I remember we took a photo at the entrance to a synagogue; it had a notice board in English and German, stating it to be for the use of German Jews and American troops. Back at the station, I got a close look at 52.439 and saw how closely these early 'Kriegsloks' resembled the final engines of 50 üK in the 3Oxx and 3lxx series, apart from the closed cab. On the way back, our second train, that from Frankenberg, was pulling out of Bromskirchen station, at the Zone border, when there came a wailing of sirens and two armoured cars roared up. The driver of 93.209 had to push the train back into the station. The Americans were in the Constabulary, something of an elite force of military police, formed to control the smuggling of foodstuffs, especially potatoes and other vegetables or fruit, from their Zone into the British Zone. They wore yellow bands around their helmets and armbands. We agreed to let K. do all the talking and sat on the step-boards of the ‘Dienetabteil’ whilst the Americans did a pretty thorough search of the passengers’ luggage. K. had fifteen minutes of hilarious conversation with a sergeant. He put on a very exaggerated accent and then even G. joined in with the broadest of Scots. I kept quiet. The Americans were delighted to meet ‘you Britishers’ and of course never asked for documents, of which only I had any, fictitious at that. ‘These God dammed Krauts will keep smuggling food into your Zone’ was all he had to say about the unhappy people being searched through the train. Those were the ‘Hamsterjahre’ with a vengeance.

A few days later I made my last unofficial trip into the American Zone. This time all went smoothly. At Marburg was a row of five newly-transferred P8s from RBD Hannover and a newly repainted BR 50 üK; 50.2261 of Bw Wetzlar. This latter was not, however, in black and red but in battleship grey. D79 had the same stock as before and this time we had 01. 095 of Bw Frankfurt 1. All the way we gained much time and had to stand at every stop. At Gensungen and at Guntershausen, I had the chance to note in full the huge collections of derelicts; BR 41s, 44s and 50s awaiting overhaul or repair. An odd-looking foreign outside cylinder 2-6-0 was shunting in Wabern yard and a Belpaire boilered 2-10-0, 58.2366 was dead at Guntershausen. This was a former Polish loco of class Ty23. On a river bank at Grifte, at a temporary bridge, lay 44.068 half buried in mud, with its tender on top. It looked as if the bridge had been bombed and that the engine had fallen into the gap. At the junction with KBS 500 to Bebra, 01.1081 was waiting for us top pass. It. was on D86 (Hamburg—München dep. 0959 arr 0643 the following day and third class only; those certainly were the days!) At that time this train could only be used with special permit, ‘nur mit Zulassungskarte benutzbar’ as the ‘Kursbuch’ said. I stayed at the same transit depot, as before, but did not venture onto the streets. Even on a summer’s evening the ruins of Kassel were no place for sightseeing, especially with both U.S. Military Police and prostitutes around in numbers.

I was up very early again next morning, to see as much as possible before train D8O left for Marburg and Frankfurt at 0655. In the station were a BR 56(rebuilt from a BR 55) and a P8, both in plain grey livery, and on local trains. D167 from Kassel to Wesermünde had 01.166 of Bw Hannover Ost.  Wesermünde and Bremerhaven formed a tiny American enclave within the British Zone, so as to give the Americans a major seaport. D167 was really only a Bremen train extended. D80 had 01.1102, still with streamlining, and was from Bw Kassel. As we passed the shed I noticed no less than three condenser tender Krieglsoks, 52.1930, 52.1967 and 52.1858 and later at Guntershausen  52.1989. Among more derelicts at Grifte was 89.7339, an aged Prussian 0-6-0T built around the turn of the century. It was only when one saw the odd ancient, that it came home what a modern loco stock the DRG had, at least in Westphalia and in Hessen. A British loco of the age and style of this BR 89 would have passed unnoticed in the U.K. in 1946. Shunting over the ‘hump’ in the yard at Treysa was 38.3319, this being the 800th DRG loco which I recorded as “new” . The rest of the journey ‘home’ was nothing untoward. The two-day trip out produced no less than 86 new locos plus 23 others seen before. During one of the visits to Kassel, I noted from the timetable on the station the following D- and E-trains running to and from Kassel or passing through. There were, in addition, numerous P-trains on the five main lines which meet in or near Kassel and on the several branch lines, some now closed, which lead to the city. The Wesermünde mentioned above and in the following list is now known as Bremerhaven.  

KASSEL HBF. STATION TIMETABLE JULY 1946 (long distance services only)

Through Trains

Train No.







Wesermünde—Hannover—Frankfurt (Friedrichshafen from 1st July






Hamburg—München (as D87)






Frankfurt—Wesermünde (from Friedrichshafen from July 1st)












Wesermünde—Hannover—Kassel (Frankfurt from July 1st)












Kassel—Düsseldorf (as E341)



Kassel—Frankfurt (as D79)






Kassel—München—Gladbach (as D197)





1) Trains E185/6 became D185/6 from July 1st.  

2) In the timetable (for today’s KBS 250) in the Summer 1946 British Zone Kursbuch appears the following note in heavy type (translated)-'Journey into the American Zone is only allowed on permit by the Military Government. American Military Police carry out rigorous checks of documents at Eichenberg'.

3) At Warburg, on one or other of the longer journeys, I noted that E341/2 above had been demoted to P-trains. However, by Autumn they were E-trains again .  

4) 'Due' trains were U.S. Army leave trains with limited civilian accommodation.


I come now to a period of 33 days- late July to late August 1946 when I notched up no less than 588 new locos. The Forces were slowly beginning to release not only the ‘old sweats’ - regulars who had joined before the War and volunteers and conscripts who had been in since 1939 - but also younger men who had joined in 1941 and 1942, so both the Army and the R.A.F. were running courses for Educational and Vocational Training (E.V.T. for short). Most of the R.A.F. courses were at Air Force H.Q. at. Bückeburg on the former DRG main line from Berlin to the Ruhr and Köln (KBS 200) between Minden and Hannover. I had put in for a course in secretarial work and I was accepted. My companion on the course from Winterberg was A.B. He was not the ideal companion for journeys of any kind and was more at home on a dance floor than on a station platform, let alone in an engine shed. Still all went well; we did all our course work together perfectly- after all I had been with him since the summer of 1944- but we parted company socially afterwards. We went by truck to Hamm, but had missed the midday military train through Hamm to Hannover. So we waited for D3 (Köln-Deutz—Braunschweig). There seemed to be much traffic through Hamm, D-, E-, and P- trains hauled by Pacifics, large and small, 41s and 39s and  of course, the P8s. When the train arrived behind 01.196 of Bw Hannover Ost we found it packed, but as usual we were comfortable in the Dienstabteil. A small girl, of about 9, was in the compartment in charge of one or other of the railway men. The stock was eight of the Russian non-corridor clerestory bogies and two standard DRG corridor. There was traffic everywhere with all of the usual DRG and Prussian locos. The great gap in the double viaduct near Bielefeld had been covered by a permanent avoiding line, built very quickly by the German army, so one of the railway men told me. This turned off very steeply downhill to the south, across the valley floor and back steeply up the opposite hillside. It was very carefully banked and we seemed to shoot round it at high speed. The bridge itself was an awful sight and the whole area was pock-marked by flooded bomb craters. It was still being used in the same way when I saw the line again in the summer of 1949, though the rebuilding of the viaduct was then in hand. Derelict at Löhne, I noted two BR 17s, 17.1135 and 17.1167. The journey to Bückeburg took exactly three hours; today it takes 65 minutes to Minden and 7 minutes on to Bückeburg.

After settling in on the course an in our billets, my first off duty task was to get hold of a timetable. I got one without any trouble from the R.A.F. N.C.O. in charge of the station. It was the complete British Zone ’Kursbuch’ of standard size with 236 pages and had come in use on July 1st. It included all services passing through the Zone and the tables of the adjoining American and French Zones which had services beginning in the British Zone. The only reference to the Russian Zone was the L11/12, the ‘Nord Express’ of which more later. There appeared to be no other crossing points into the Russian Zone for passenger trains. The military trains of the three Western powers apparently all went via Helmstedt. The Flight Sergeant also gave me the military train service through Bückeburg. The complete train service, civil and military is given below.


Train No.










Köln Deutz





Köln Deutz










Köln Deutz







Hamburg Altona



Köln Deutz





Köln Deutz















Köln Deutz












Berlin (M.W.Sa)

Copenhagen (Tu.F.Sa



















Köln Deutz



Hamburg Altona



Hook of Holland (leave trains)


Hamburg Altona








Hook of Holland (non leave train)







Hamburg Altona










Hamburg Altona

19.50(not Sun)





Bad Harzburg



Münster (every four days)



Köln Deutz





Köln Deutz





Köln Hbf.























Berlin (Tu.Th.Sa.) Copenhagen (Su.M.F.)












Köln Deutz



Hamburg Altona


Köln Deutz
















Köln Deutz





Köln Deutz









Hamburg (restricted)










Bad Harzburg (every four days)





Cuxhaven (release only)





Hamburg Altona


Hook of Holland







Hamburg (restricted)


Hook of Holland





Bracketed times are working timetable passing times. 

Z—marked in timetable as requiring special boarding ticket.  

W-Mondays to Saturdays  

Su -Sundays only. Other days shown in similar code.  

T — ‘Triebwagen’ or diesel multiple unit train 

L11/2 were the ‘Nord Express’ alternatively to Berlin and Copenhagen. Barred to travel within Germany.

With the exception of the ‘Nord Express’ only D5 ran to Köln Hbf. over the extremely heavily used temporary South Bridge. All others ran to and from Deutz station only; the Hohenzollern bridge not being repaired until later in 1946. Trains from Essen Hbf. to and from Köln ran along KBS 307 to Lintorf and at Wedau ran along the former KBS 232 through Mülheim-Speldorf to rejoin KBS 300 near Essen Hbf. The Ruhr bridge between  Mülheim and Duisburg was still out of use at this time. Most east to west trains ran north of Essen through Altenessen.

As our course kept us very busy during the day from Monday to Saturday noon, I did all my railway observation in the evenings and at weekends and must have missed a great deal of freight traffic. Much of the coal exported to the east as reparations went over this level route. I was never able to find just where the coal sent east through Bestwig behind all those BR44s crossed the border but I have always suspected it to have been via the Bebra-Eisenach crossing, though the American military trains certainly did not go that way. Quite a lot of BR 42s and BR 52s were used on this route through Bückeburg together with the ubiquitous BR 50. P8s handled almost all the P-trains but the military and civilian expresses were in charge of 0ls and 03s indiscriminately , with the occasional BR 41. The small wheels of the latter were no hindrance when on so-called fast duties.

One evening, the westbound ‘Nord Express’, the Copenhagen to Paris run on this occasion, was slowed at signals through Bückeburg and I noted the coaching stock; - two SNCF, one Belgian, two ‘Wagon­Lits’ (all running from Copenhagen to Paris) and four DRG and one ‘Wagon­Lits’ running from Hannover to Brussels. The loco was 01.172 of Bw Hannover Ost.

On the first Saturday afternoon, I went to Minden, 9kms to the west. Fifteen derelicts were stored at the shed, two BR 50, three BR55, two BR 17,four BR 58 and a modern Polish 2-10-0 of class Ty23; over 400 of these were built in the 1920s and 1930s. There was also a small American-built 2-8-0 of Polish class Tr20, taken over by the DRG like the previous engine in 1941. The next day, Sunday, I went on M20 to Hannover. At Wunstorf, where KBS 210 from Bremen joins KBS 200, among a flock of derelicts was 56.3006 a former Lübeck—Büchen Railway loco of Prussian G8.2 class, but fitted with full-sized smoke deflector plates. 41.108 was on a train of flat wagons standing in a lay-by loop; they were loaded with tanks from Wesermünde en route for the American Zone. In Seelze yard, just before Hannover, were many freight trains ready to go south, behind BR 50s, to the American Zone, most of them having a guard of armed U.S. troops. In the Hbf. at Hannover was 18.302 from Bw Bremen, a rather spindly looking Pacific from the former Baden State Railway. There was also what I recorded as a 'white painted diesel-electric U.S. Army medical train'. I cannot remember a thing about this; it was probably one of the pre-war high-speed D.M.U. trains. I went out of the station to Hannover Ost shed but did not press the foreman about going round as he seemed rather reluctant to let me. The Army was very thick on the ground in Hannover and clearly it was not like Bestwig, Arnsberg and Warburg. I did however, see a streamlined 03; 03.193 and an ancient 0-6-0T, 89.7099. On that July Sunday, Hannover was dusty, battered and hot so I returned to the station. 01.1102 from Bw Kassel was in and also two Berlin trains behind Pacifies. Neither of these was heavy and comprised first and second class DRG stock with ’Wagon-Lits’and ’Mitropa’diners. I returned to Bückeburg in mid-afternoon on M9 from Cuxhaven to Krefeld. It arrived from the north, via the Lehrte direction behind an Uelzen P8 and an 01, leaving behind 03.090 of Bw Osnabrück Hbf. At Wunstorf, we passed an American families train going south behind a Bremen P8.

SUMMER 1946 (August)

One evening the following week, I had a two and a half hour session by the main line at Bückeburg. The westbound ‘Nord Express’ that day had come from Berlin and comprised: luggage van, one ‘Wagon-Lits’ Berlin to Paris, two SNCF coaches from Hannover to Paris and Calais, a ‘Wagon-Lits’ from Hannover to Brussels and three unmarked DRG composite corridors, but presumably Hannover to Brussels.

 A heavy train of Polish ‘displaced persons’ went east behind 50.1939 from Bw Lehrte which was hauling about twenty four and six wheelers, and a flat truck with the officer in charge of the train’s British staff car on it. Probably he and his one or two men would return by road when the train had been sent safely across the Zone border at Helmstedt. My unit at Winterberg had about six of these unfortunates, all men who had been employed on forced labour in Germany. They lived with us for their keep and lodging until they, or somebody else, had decided what they were to do next. I remember how grateful they were for the small luxuries (in their eyes) such as good soap, tooth paste, razor blades and of course British cigarettes and chocolate. They positively fell over themselves do things for us. Yet at the same time they seemed to bear little malice or even distaste for the civilian population.


Among the men on the E.V.T. courses there was a lot of talk about the delights of a weekend in Hamburg. The R.A.F. had a big villa on the outskirts of Blankenese north west of the city. This was used as a transit depot for genuine travellers on leave or postings and also to accommodate men visiting the city on weekend passes, no other questions being asked beyond the production of the pass. I had other delights in mind than most of the people there! So I got a full long weekend pass (we were allowed to skip one Saturday morning and one Monday during the whole course) and went off on M8 (Calais to Hamburg) The whole thing was a marvellous success from my point of view, seeing exactly 200 new steam locos. One of the earliest P8s, 38.1020, painted grey, was at Hannover. A big synthetic oil plant on the way to Lehrte was heavily bombed but there was very little damaged stock and the track at Lehrte itself, one of the key junctions in all Germany, seemed in reasonable order. On these very level lines, many BR 52s were working. 52.2736 (Bw Uelzen) was one which I had previously seen, and taken a photo of, on the west bank of the Rhine near Bonn in October 1945. At Uelzen, I noted the very last of the wartime production series of Kriegsloks; 52.7792. At Lüneburg was 54.416, an old small 2-6-0 of Polish and Austrian origins. It was dark when we arrived at Hamburg and I simply followed the R.A.F. blue crowd on to the electric train to Blankenese and bed.

It was a glorious weekend of baking sun, the old English August Bank holiday weekend . I covered miles on the S.Bahn and U.Bahn around the city that Sunday. As I started out, 52.5774 of Eidelstedt depot was light in Blankenese station. The electric line ended here in 1946 and the service was an hourly or half hourly shuttle of steam trains, hauled usually by BR 74 2-6-0Ts. The electric service on the S.Bahn was very good and frequent, part of each three car E.M.U. set being reserved for troops. In Bw Altona yard was one of the streamlined 4-6-4s, 05.003 lying dead. This was the one which ran cab-first until the streamlining was removed; it returned to service after rebuilding  in 1950. Most of the non-electric local services were hauled by BR 74 2-6-0Ts and some BR 78s. Several of the former had been built for the Lübeck-Büchen Railway and were even streamlined. Fortunately I saw several of the latter. For the rest it was mainly Pacifics, P8s and BR 50 2-10-0s.

At first sight Hamburg seemed relatively little damaged. There was of course plenty of explosive bomb damage but then the fine, upstanding apartment buildings (found in the centre of almost all German cities) which looked undamaged, were seen, close to, as mere shells. The city centre had been burnt-out by fire-bomb air-raids, especially during one horrific raid and fire storm on the same August weekend in 1942. But everywhere there was signs of restoration; buildings being rebuilt from the inside. I noticed this on a bigger city­wide scale in Köln in 1949. Everywhere there were British and Canadian troops, but of course no Americans. There were women galore too, of all ages 16 to 46, all trying to look about 21. No, the railway was by far the most interesting thing to see in Hamburg! The two great city stations seemed little damaged apart from missing glass in the roof of the Hbf. and a hole in the roof of the circulating area at Altona.

On Monday, the 5th, I departed, weary but still willing, on M7 Hamburg Altona-Calais. I travelled the whole way in the large 4-door end vestibule of the last coach. I missed little and on this one journey, collected 111 new locos. I chewed gum the whole way and by the time we reached Bückeburg about 1700 I was feeling a little sick. As we ran into the Hamburg Hbf. from Altona one of the double-decker push-pull trains passed with a 74.l3xx tank. Another was passed at Hamburg Harburg. Also in the Hbf. was a long train of covered vans loaded with civilians and their possessions. One van was marked in chalk ‘Ost Flüchtlinge’ - refugees from the east. These poor people were just a few of the many thousands being expelled from Silesia, Pomerania, West Prussia and part of East Prussia. This was done to compensate Poland for the Polish Eastern provinces; especially the Polish Ukraine, which had been incorporated in the Soviet Union. Thus it is that former German cities like Breslau, Stettin and Kattowitz are now called Wroclaw, Szczocin and Katowice. The train load at Hamburg would be resettled in the country towns and villages of Schleswig-Holstein. Quite a number of these refugees settled in Winterberg and in 1949 I even met, in Köln, a small boy who told me he had been born in Breslau. The run south on M7 was fast but we had long waits at every station. The only noteworthy loco I recorded was a strange 0-6-0T at Celle, 89.121, with a tall narrow chimney. It had come from the Pfalz Railway which served the southern part of what is now the state of Rheinland-Pfalz.

The long return journey gave me some idea of what the pre-war DRG must have been like. This part of Germany was never the scene of the bitter land-fighting of March and April 1945 which had wrecked most of the railways to the west. In one of the servicemen’s clubs at Bückeburg, I read a most informative article in “Zone Review” which was published by the Control Commission, about the DRG in the British Zone. Out of 12,692 route kms in the Zone, only 1,050 were in operation in June 1945. By July 1946, when the magazine had gone to press, almost 12,000 were in use. In June 1945, the daily loadings were 16,ooo tons but by July 1946 had reached 160,000 tons. The Rhine railway bridges were being restored. The Baerl bridge was back in use in February 1946 (I crossed it in May). This was the first restoration in the north, excluding the famous Remagen rail bridge used, I believe, only by road traffic until its untimely collapse through overuse. Köln South bridge was open to single track in May and the Düsseldorf to Neuss bridge would be open to single track in August. It concluded the long article by stating the two obvious and coal; German energy and inventiveness would have to do all the rest. And we know all to well in Britain they certainly did, railway wise and in most other directions too. The next Sunday, I went again to Hannover and out to Dahren where goods avoiding lines from Seelze (KBS 200) to Lehrte (KBS150 and 220) cross over and send down slip curves to the route (KBS 250) to Kassel and Bavaria. The traffic was mainly freight behind BR 42 and BR 50. There was one P-train from Hannover to Kassel behind a P8. Dahren is near where the ‘Neubaustrecke’, at present under construction, begins.

 Back in Hannover, I found that M9 from Cuxhafen had broken down at Celle; 01.019 and its train were hauled into the Hbf. by 57.3198 from Bw Celle in reverse. On the way west we passed a U.S. Army troop train behind 50.2054. This continual rail-borne traffic of troops and military civilians is so strange when compared with the almost universal use of aircraft for longer international travel today. On the Saturday before the course ended, I tried to get to Hameln but on arrival at Löhne found there was no suitable train. I went to the shed and the foreman said I could go round. For some reason, I foolishly rang the R.T.O. office in Bad Oeynhausen and was told very brusquely to get off the premises. I had forgotten Löhne was so near the Rhine Army H.Q. The chap at the other end then rang the foreman and told him to see me off. But as it was pouring with rain now, I hung on and we chatted in the usual style. There were 63 locos allocated to the shed and 15 were broken down or damage. There were BR17s and 57s as well as a few Belgian 0-8-0s. I never found out how the latter came to be at Bw Löhne. I noted a fair number of the locos on shed on my way out. I went on to Bad Oeynhausen and returned to Bückeburg on the Autobahn by military truck am far as Bad Eilsen and by R.A.F. bus down to the town.

Before our return journey to Winterberg at the end of the course the following week, I persuaded A.B. to come with me via Kassel and Marburg. I spun the office staff a tale about the remoteness of Winterberg and its ease of access via the American Zone. So they made our double route-form that way. We left Bückeburg in TpM58 at 0935. This was a single-unit diesel railcar painted red and both comfortable and smooth-running. We hoped to catch D186 (Wesermünde—Frankfurt) but Army Movement Control people in Hannover told us we would have to go overnight.

 So off we went for the day to a house near Celle the Army used for casual travellers through Hannover. I went into Celle after lunch and saw 03.114 on the westbound ‘Nord-Express’. The formation that day was an SNCF luggage van, two SNCF corridors running from Copenhagen to Paris; one ‘Wagon-Lits’ diner and three non-corridors and a Danish wooden corridor coach all running Flensburg to Hannover. It looked as if this train was now open civilian travel for part of the way at least. Back at the Hbf. in late evening, Dus 614 rolled in behind two P8s at 2210. This was a new train not listed in the tables for Kassel, shown earlier. There were firsts and seconds and some sleepers (reserved for Americans travelling through to Frankfurt from Wesermünde). The officer in charge of the train, a lieutenant, took our route form and travel chit, despite our protests, and there we were in the middle of Germany, in a train supposed to be for Americans only and without documents! But nothing went wrong, discipline-wise, though as far as a quick, convenient journey went, it was a disaster. I’ll never forget that endless journey which took us to, eventually, Frankfurt ; nor I imagine will A.B.

When we reached Kassel in the early hours, there was a long delay and the Americans in our compartment cursed and swore; ‘These God dammed Kraut railroads’ and such like comments. Finally, we learned that KBS 520 - our line to Marburg and Winterberg - was blocked, so they said, by an explosion on an oil train. So back we went to Eichenberg. We arrived there at 06.30. The top-rank Berlin—Frankfurt Army train (the Americans called it ‘The Berliner’) was there behind a BR 50. We had 01.1095 of Bw Kassel, the first DRG loco I had seen in April 1945. D176 (Wesermünde—Friedrichshafen) came in behind 01.078. To add to the over-crowded scene, a French Army leave train, direct from Helmstedt and Berlin came in behind 39.239 of Bw Bebra; it was made up of the odd-looking French curved body stock with oval windows. 

It must have been a long time since Eichenberg had seen such a collection of important trains, all impotent and apparently unable to go any further! ‘The Berliner’ went out first, then we followed in the reverse direction now behind a BR 50 from Bw Eschwege and up the long hill towards Bebra, through the wonderful hill and forest scenery. Near Oberreiden, we crept along a rickety, single track steel bridge over the River Werra, very near to the Russian Zone which runs on the east bank of the river at that point. The French train was let past us at Sontra and then we went on up to the summit at Cornberg and down the long winding hill to Bebra. On the way down, we passed a northbound express hauled by 03.1060 and banked by a BR 50.

We waited about two hours in Bebra, very tantalising too, as I did not dare leave the train. A.B. was feeling rather weary and travel sick now but the rail scene kept me going! D176 followed us into Bebra on the opposite side of the island platform, with its 01 tender first. There must have been no spare locos at Eichenberg. It then reversed and went off to rejoin KBS 520 at Guntershausen. This was at 11.30. We now had a BR 44 for the next leg of the journey, on KBS 500 to Frankfurt, direct via Fulda. We moved off at 1200 but after Bad Hersfeld the engine had great difficulty with steaming and at Fulda we took a BR 42 as pilot. We dropped it just before the summit tunnel at Flieden, and ran quite fast down to Hanau in about 40 minutes. A.B. was quite groggy now and I had to keep jollying him along. The whole way down to Frankfurt the locos were the usual DRG and Prussian types. We finally came to rest at Frankfurt South station where the U .S. Military trains began and finished .The loop line over the river to the Hbf. was still out of use.

Fortunately for us the British Army had a house at Höchst on the west side of Frankfurt, where the few British troops in the district could live and where travellers like us might stay. An American Sergeant in charge at the station offered us transport to this place and I remember him saying to the German civilian driver, in very fluent German, ‘Du sollst sofort zurück kommen’ - you’d better come straight back’. So at last a decent meal and a wash. There was no comment about our long way round, nor about our lack of documents. The house overlooked, literally, KBS 610 (Frankfurt—Wiesbaden) but I did not see much. I think we went to bed very early but I did note 78.101, 38.1652 and 78.049 on local trains, whilst next morning 18.511 passed with DD1O1(Frankfurt—Bielefeld) a limited accommodation train requiring a permit when used by civilians. These PD- and FD­trains were coming into service as stock became available. That morning we got travel papers and were told to get the evening train from the Hbf. This would be Dus 613 or 615, the return working of the train we came on. ‘Not likely!’ we decided, and so after leaving the minibus at the south station we walked with our kit over a temporary river bridge to the Hbf. to catch P79 at 1600. All enthusiasts know of this most famous of all German stations. The four great train-sheds seemed undamaged except for the loss of wooden framing and glass. We got a very satisfying meal of tuna-fish sandwiches in the American club here. The journey north on P79 was quite uneventful; we simply walked past the ticket-collector at the barrier, talking loudly, and into the last coach which was reserved for American Occupation Forces. As usual the train of six-wheelers was packed except for the two rear coaches, which were almost empty. The railway yards at Friedberg were badly bombed and much rolling stock was trapped. There were the usual long lines of dead engines at each main station. In Giessen station was 38.1866 of Bw Frankfurt 3 and 86.525. 

At Marburg South we got off, having been told that the Americans had a transit house nearby. It was run by a small squad of negro troops. Next morning, I noted the southbound ‘Berliner’ back on its proper route behind 50.704,and 41.142 on D185(Frankfurt—Wesermünde). We got lunch at the house and went by truck to the main Marburg station for the train to Frankenberg. This had a BR 93, of course, and at the rear some goods vans loaded with evacuees from Czechoslovakia and West Prussia. They had chalked this information on the van sides. These vans were detached by shunting the whole train, at Wetter and Münchhausen. We finally arrived at Winterberg, on time at 1915. With a little padding, the whole journey had taken from 0935 Tuesday to 1915 Friday. Had the British Army at Frankfurt had its way, we would not have arrived back until Saturday about noon. From the 1980 Kursbuch I find that one could leave Bückeburg at 0947 and arrive in Winterberg by 1354. The longer way round by Marburg is now impossible by rail since the Frankenberg to Winterberg section is closed.


Four days after our return from Bückeburg, I went off on 27th August on my fifth and final home leave, again via the Hook of Holland. I went by lorry to Münster and then walked to the junction of the barracks siding with KBS 280 (Münster—Rheine) and there saw several BR 50, 41, 03 and one BR 86. There was nothing noteworthy on the journey next day across Holland except for 91.1054 and 55.3100 carrying N.S. numbers at Hengelo; more commandeered locos. On return in late September, I had to travel via Hull and Cuxhaven. Railway property there seemed intact but the shed was unapproachable amid many sidings. A British Army families train with several 12-wheel sleepers left behind 56.2375. A P8 and BR 50 went south on fish trains. Next morning I decided that as I was on my own I would go via Hamburg and so I left Cuxhaven at 0600 on a Flensburg train. At Neugraben was another of the former Lübeck—Büchen double-decker push-pull trains with a streamliner; 74.1318. In the yards at Wilhelmsburg, there were several of the geared 0-10-0Ts of BR 87. I stayed overnight at the R.A.F. house in Blankenese where I had been in August. Next day, I left on a military train from Altona to Münster. As we paused in the Hbf. another train of covered vans carrying ‘Eastern refugees’ passed through going north behind 50.908 of Bw Lübeck. Presumably the train had come out of the Russian Zone at Lübeck. Near Harburg, we overtook the third of the’ Kriegsloks’, 52.003 and in Celle was one of the very last built of the P8s, 38.4016. There was nothing else out of the ordinary until Bünde, near Löhne, where a Belgian 0-10-0, 9002 was lying dead. This looked rather like a BR 57 taken by the Belgians after 1918. On the same shed was a hefty 0-8-0T,  81.003; one of the small class built by the DRG in 1928 but not multiplied. A smaller version was the tiny BR 80, of which 80.014 is to be found at Steamtown, Carnforth. At Osnabrück, we used the single track loop north of the yards on KBS 270 (Löhne—Rheine) to reach the high-level platforms on KBS 100 (Münster—Bremen—Hamburg). After an overnight at the barracks at Münster, I hitch-hiked to Neheim, but had to spend yet another night there at the transit house used by the local infantry, the Royal Scots Fusiliers. Next day I went on by rail on P605 (Düsseldorf—Warburg) behind 38.3443. It was packed so this time I climbed into the luggage van at the front to be greeted by the unexpected sight of the Sergeant-Major of Royal Engineers from the local railway control team.

We soon got into a deep and interesting conversation about various railway matters. There was little progress on the Arnsberg viaduct and he told me that the allocation of cement was quarterly only and was soon used up. E342, the Kassel—Düsseldorf train which I had seen with a BR 01, had gone back to six-wheelers and was worked on this occasion by a P8. Perhaps there had been a failure because it was forty minutes late. The Sergeant-Major said E342 now ran to München-Gladbach over the restored bridge at Neuss, This final long winded journey had given me 146 new German locos; it lasted from September 17th in Lancashire to the 23rd in Winterberg.

A few days later, I spent most of the day on KBS 350 at Olsberg. The line was very quiet with a total of 12 trains and one light engine. An east bound coal train with 44.492 and banked by 44.044 had a newly painted wagon lettered RAW Gotha, a works in the Russian Zone. It looked as if the bother about return of empty coal wagons had been sorted out. E342 still had only a P8 but the Prussian eight-wheel stock was back again. The P-trains also had P8s that day.

 The Germans seem to be very fond of slogans and a platelayers hut near to where I was spotting had stencilled on its outside walls; 'Deine Arbeit gibt dem Rad die Sicherheit' - your work gives the wheel its safety. Somewhere else I saw another rather less apt slogan; 'Rader sein rollen für den Sieg' - wheels must roll for victory. In mid October I had my last lineside session at Olsberg and even less traffic was moving than earlier. Ten movements only were seen, including one banker returning light, with one loaded coal train and three westbound freight powered by BR44s. Three P8s were on P-trains and E342 had 01.215. Early in October, I picked up a copy of ‘Die Welt’, the principal post-war newspaper. A series of new long distance U- and FD- trains beginning on the 7th were reported. The ‘Nord Express’ ran now from Paris to Stockholm but via Bremen instead of Hannover. FD 191/2 ran from Köln Hbf. to Hamburg via Bremen and over either the Hohenzollern or Neuss bridges. The journey time was from 1025 to 1906 eastbound.  Another FD pair ran between Köln and Ludwigshafen via Bonn, during the day southbound and overnight northbound, taking 5 hours and 28 minutes. Three were four or five similar pairs of new expresses including one between Amsterdam and Berlin.

My final trip away from Winterberg, apart from two short leaves in Germany, nearly ended in final disaster. I travelled with a sergeant Air Gunner, now employed as a lorry driver, to collect rations from an Army depot near Schwerte. Due to his reckless driving in overtaking a heavily loaded horse drawn cart of logs on a bend, we were in a bad accident with a Volkswagen car coming the other way. If I not been very quick my legs would have been crushed. The lorry front was bashed right in and we were stuck there at the roadside  by the tunnel entrance for about two hours before we could get a lift and a tow.  01.181 went west on P342 but there were only four other movements. It was All Souls’ Day, November 2nd, and I too nearly became one of the Holy Souls!

From 11th to 15th November, I was away on my own at Bad Harzburg, the Army leave centre.  We had an early morning start from the barracks siding at Münster with 03.090 in reverse on M14. Apart from the normal locos there was nothing of interest until Löhne, where there was 17.235 on P514(Löhne—Osnabrück), and a red and cream 2-car D.M.U. , which ran between Bad Oeynhausen and Köln for use of the Control Commission, there was a meal halt of 35 minutes at Minden,  in the style of Midland days at Hellifield and Cud worth. At Hannover, another Baden Pacific, 18.316 ran through light, our train changed engines to 41 .010 of Bw Hannover Ost for the last stage to Hildesheim, Goslar and up to Bad Harzburg on KBS 240. For the final 11kms uphill we had a pilot, 38.3761 of Bw Goslar,  arriving at 1347.

Next morning, I made straight for Goslar, rather naturally, but by road. This was a beautiful medieval town with no sign of war. The R.T.0. at the station, a Royal Engineers Sergeant, told me to go ahead and look round the station and shed. There were many BR93 tanks for the very hilly branch lines on this side of the Harz mountains. The eastern side was, of course, in the Russian Zone. There BR 56 and 58 for local freights and at the carriage sidings, 53.7533, a former Czech 0-6-0 dating from the end of the last century, was heating coaching stock. I noted 31 locos; the foreman told me 45 locos were allocated with only 24 in working order. In the town I met a Corporal from the Manchester Regiment, my father’s old regiment from 1899 to 1922,; the first soldier from this regiment I had seen since leaving England in 1944. I travelled back up to Bad Harzburg on P1949 (Goslar to Bad Harzburg) behind two P8s, 38.2099 of Bw Goslar  and 38.2316 of Bw Hildesheim.  After lunch at the leave centre, I went up the cable ropeway to the top of the Grosser Burgberg which over-shadows the town to the east. It rises 186m vertically in a distance of 481m and the journey took 3 minutes. 

The weather was really November like with mist and chilly winds. I had a footpath map, however, and set off along the eerie paths over the hilltop to see if I could see the Brocken, 1142m high over the Zone border. As the mists swirled to and fro, it could be clearly seen across a deep wooded valley, with its summit hotel tower just like the Kahler Asten at Winterberg. At. this point the path was blocked by a light wood and wire fence bearing a rather intimidating notice in English, French and German, warning walkers to go no further because of the danger of being shot. I should imagine there is more than a light wood fence at that point today. 

Down in the town once again, I noticed that one of the earliest of the P8s was standing in the station; 38.1020 of Goslar shed. Its tender still carried the former Prussian Railway number on the tender side, 2202. While I was down in that part of the town, 56.2153 from Bw Borssum came off the Eckertal branch with a short freight. This stub line 8.5km long , still carried early morning and evening passenger workings each way. It was the remnant of a line across the northern part of the Harz to Halberstadt and the east.

It was a very pleasant short break, and an unexpected one, in a very beautiful district but it was gloomy indeed in November 1946. M13, the return train to Münster left on the fourth day at 1620 behind 93.1081 piloting 01.021 of Bw Hannover Ost. It was dark from Goslar and I only recorded ten locos for the whole journey back to Münster. I travelled the whole way in the luggage van with the guard, chatting about railways. He gave me full information about military trains passing through his division, RBD Münster, and these are summarised below. I took the detailed times of both journeys to and from Bad Harzburg and our best start to stop speeds were 41.9mph between 0snabrück and Löhne, 39.7mph between Münster and Osnabrück and on the return 39mph Goslar to Hildesheim and a breath taking 45.7mph between Hannover and Bückeburg. We changed engines at Hannover to 41.010 and again to 41.290 at Osnabrück reaching Münster at 2246.


M1/2 Hannover—Osnabrück—Hook of Holland and return

M3/4 Marienthal (Münster barracks sidings)—Münster Hbf.—Rheine— Hook of  Holland and return

M5/6 Hannover—Hook of Holland (ran only when needed) and return

M9/10 Cuxhaven—Neugraben—Münster—Ruhr district—Krefeld and return

M13/4 Bad Harzburg—Münster (every four days) and return

Ml9/2O Hannover—Münster—Krefeld—Brussels and return

M21/2 Osnabrück—Hamm—Holzwickede—Bestwig—Winterberg and return


M3/9 took passengers from M1O/M4 at Münster Hbf. 

M14/21 ran Mondays and Thursdays only

M13/M22 ran on Thursdays and Sundays only 

M21 arrived at Winterberg 1444. 

M22 left Winterberg 1550 

The Winterberg trains were to serve the Kurhaus Hotel for Winter sports leave, and possibly during the rest of year for general troop leaves similar to Bad Harzburg. It had only just started as a centre and of course, lorry or bus travel was out of the question for this kind of leave centre in 1946.

I spent the morning and early afternoon of the next day spotting near the south side junctions at Münster where the Ruhr district direct line via Haltern (KBS 320) begins. The usual lines of derelicts were found here but there was plenty of traffic going in and out of the yards south of the Hbf. The freights were in sole charge of BR 50s and 52s from Münster, Recklinghausen , Gelsenkirchen-Bismark, Wanne-Eickel and Hamm sheds. FD191 from Köln went north to Hamburg behind 03.218 of Bw Osnabrück Hbf. This was certainly an improvement on anything for internal civilian travel I had seen previously, with eight standard corridors, 2nd and 3rd class, and a luggage van. There were no wooden-boarded windows, nor was the train so crowded as usual. Ever since then, I have thought of this train as the first sign of real recovery I saw in the country which so blossomed in 1948 and 1949. I returned to the barracks in mid afternoon and left for ‘home’ in one of our trucks; the Winterberg direct train did not run on Fridays and I didn’t fancy a journey in semi-darkness in a crowded P-train.


My release number had now turned up and I knew for certain that I would be out at the end of January. There was plenty of snow up in the Sauerland and we had begun skiing again. On my first day out, I broke a brand new ski with steel edges on a half buried tree root and had to go back to my old army training skis, very worn at the edges. So over November and December I saw very little on the railway. I had unpleasant dental trouble over Christmas and on my final leave - a short 48 hour one - I found myself trying to eat cream cakes in an Army club in Berlin with a loose dental tampon in my mouth. 

BERLIN!  Most troops hoped for a chance to go there and four of us, all due for release, went by truck to Bielefeld on January 8th 1947. M16 left Bielefeld for Berlin at 21.45. Six coaches for officers and two for other ranks, with a sleeper added at Bielefeld formed the train. It was warm, very fuggy and when day broke , the windows were completely iced over inside. We reached Helmstedt at 03.20 and left after a short wait with all doors locked. A German inspector on the train told me that RBD Hannover had to provide power through to Berlin. All the country lines and most of the non-electric lines in Berlin were singled. All the electric lines in Saxony had been dismantled; all this from the inspector. We crossed the Elbe at Magdeburg by a very solidly built single line temporary bridge. We stopped at Genthin, Brandenburg at 07.05, Potsdam and reached Berlin Charlottenburg on the Stadtbahn at 09.15. The only locos I noted were 74.081 at Wildpark, 01.184 painted light blue and coupled to Russian coaches at Potsdam, 50.326 and 50.1595 at Bw Potsdam, and 52.1143 on a westbound freight on the long straight line at Wannsee. We lodged in great luxury at the Reichssportfeld (the pre-war Olympic stadium) in the west end of the city and travelled to and from it by U-Bahn. These trains were in good order with few windows blanked off but the S-Bahn stock of the DRG was in poor condition. The Stadtbahn and the famous Vollringbahn round the outskirts were in full use and of course there was no division of the city then. A map of the local services is the best way of describing the railway scene as this shows routes out of use.

I travelled the whole way along the Stadtbahn and from Westkreuz to Ostkreuz on the south side of the Ringbahn. There was no heating in the trains and though the service was frequent, it was dismal in the extreme even for a dedicated enthusiast, with the heavily muffled Berliners, the boarded windows, or what was worse, the windows repaired with rough lavatory-type glass. There was derelict S-Bahn stock everywhere and no sign at all of freight traffic or steam passenger trains. I got out at Ostkreuz to say that this was the furthest east I had ever been; it still is. I tried to get hold of a timetable but the best I could get was one from a travel agency covering Mecklenburg and Vorpommern (the north and north east of the Russian Zone). It is a shocking piece of printing though in normal Kursbuch style and looks as if it were on light blotting paper. Ironically, in March 1947, I got a perfectly good copy of the Russian Zone Kursbuch of November 1946 from an army friend I met at home .after release. He worked for the L. M.S. at home and was on leave from the R.T.O.’s office at Charlottenburg. He sent me the book when he went back. 

It makes fascinating reading, especially as regards the so called expresses and the complexities of the Berlin S-Bahn. It shows absolutely nothing about any services linking the three Western to Berlin, not even L11/12, the ‘Nord Express’ .If only I had known of my friend’s posting in Berlin! It was bitterly cold and, for once, I went around mostly with my three pals from Winterberg, sightseeing and taking photographs, most of which were badly underexposed with the poor light, and eating in army clubs. I didn’t risk any attempts to find sheds or even spend long on stations. On the second day, when waiting for a train at on the Stadtbahn 38.3042 was on one of the through roads en route from Schlesischer Bhf. (now Ostbahnhof) to Magdeburg at 10.30 but I could find no such train in the Kursbuch when I returned home. On my last trip west on the Stadtbahn I noticed a P8 on a six coach of standard corridors in the Schlesischer Bhf.; probably it was from Berlin to Dresden.

We left Berlin at 22.05 on the 11th and had an uneventful journey. I remember that the officer in charge of the train was from a Scottish regiment and was wearing tartan trews. We left Helmstedt and reached Bielefeld at 10.00. The only notable observations were a W.D. 2-8-0, 78675 ‘Sapper’ at Herford and the second of the 01s, 01 .002 on the Rhine Army Special from Calais to Bad Oeynhausen. I later found that the W.D. engine was employed in RBD Hannover on the Herford-Altenbeken line (KBS 205). The line was used by the Army as a training line for the Royal Engineers. The September 1946 issue of ‘Soldier’, an army magazine, described the line as the ‘Detmold Military Railway’. The passenger service in the 1946 Kursbuch shows a weekdays only service of three return journeys Herford to Detmold and three through to Altenbeken from Herford. The trains were numbered specially between W1 and W20, rather as in the case of the private railways, but were still shown as RBD Hannover. I remember we got a lorry lift from Bielefeld to Münster barracks and there we sat tight in the NAAFI club; it was miserably cold and none of us felt like stirring out on the 13th. There was no transport for us and we left on the 14th on the through train from Münster to Winterberg, four coaches and a van behind 38.2653 of Bw Bestwig. We four were the only passengers. At Bestwig the P8 gave way to 93.1074 and we reached home at 13.35. The total count for the leave was 51 new engines, only six being in the Russian Zone and Berlin. Demobilisatiom and departure day finally came on Saturday January 25th. About five of us were leaving and we set off with our belongings collected in  22 months in the same place. I carried my precious timetables and diaries in a German grenade case rather like a huge metal executive’s brief case. After the last overnight stay at Münster barracks and the last sight of the Guardsmen who ran it, we took M10 for Fischbeck transit camp near Hamburg­Neugraben. The ‘Nord Express’ overtook us at Osnabrück behind 01.009 of Bw Hamm. It had only five coaches; an old brown wooden ‘Wagon-Lits’ diner lettered in Danish running from Hamm to Nyborg, a blue ‘Wagon-Lits’ sleeper from Ostend to Copenhagen, with a second from Paris to Copenhagen, a green SNCF compartment coach running from Paris to Stockholm and an SNCF luggage van. I timed M10 between Münster and Osnabrück and the maximum speed was 49mph at Lengerich. Before Löhne there was a 56mph dash by Bruchmühlen. On leaving Hannover we were delayed with faulty brakes and I took a few last snaps in very dull snowy weather outside Hannover Ost shed. Between Lehrte and Celle we reached 47mph. By now it was darkening and snowing. We spent the night and most of the next day at Fischbeck camp. That final evening all those en route for the U.K. went to Neugraben station. It was bitterly cold and there was no proper waiting facility. It was hard to tell whether it was sand or fine, frozen snow or both that was blowing about. One chap had a big bottle of some spirits not very  appropriately called ‘Heiligee Wasser’ - holy water - and we kept taking nips at this. A P-train came in from Hamburg behind 38.1277; 1 stirred myself to go down the platform to get the number; it was the last DRG loco I noted until 1949. Probably the train was P408 from Altona to Stade or P412 Altona to Cuxhaven. Later came one of the well lit double-deck trains behind a big 2-6-0T and, in quick succession, M10 from Krefeld to Cuxhaven with two P8s and then our M11 or M12 from Flensburg behind a P8 which arrived with the engine lost in a cloud of steam. I missed all the others for the same reason.

We got down to Cuxhaven harbour station at 20.18 and after a very fuggy night in a Royal Navy billet, went aboard the ship for Hull. We sailed in the early hours and awoke to a calm sea and brilliant sunshine which lasted right until the Humber. The day was January 28th and by the time we left Hull in the afternoon, the snow had started. We passed L.N.E.R. No.1 at Selby on the ‘Flying Scotsman’ and just about kept pace with the snow to Manchester and Kirkham Camp at Blackpool. Two days later I reached Stalybridge near Manchester behind a Lancashire and Yorkshire 2-4-2T No. 10925. I had arrived home and so had the snow and blizzards of the winter of 1947.

The End