Soham Railway Disaster - 2nd June 1944

60th Anniversary of the Rail Explosion

66079 EWS

In the early hours of 2nd June 2004, around fifty people turned out in the middle of the night and walked by candlelight from St. Andrew's Church to the site of the original station to mark the saving of Soham on the 60th anniversary. The actual time of the explosion was at 1.44am on 2nd June 1944 and present residents of the town gathered at the site to commemorate and give thanks for the bravery and courage of those four men, whose swift thinking and self-less actions saved the town from near-certain destruction. The train that exploded was carrying 51 carriages of bombs; each wagon had 40 bombs on it, each of which had 500lbs of explosives.

James Nighthall EWS Benjamin Gimbert EWS

As well as the candlelit procession, later on during the day two new Network Rail EWS Class 66 Freight Locomotives were named at the Whitemoor Sidings in March, Cambridgeshire in honour of Benjamin Gimbert and James Nightall who were both awarded the George Cross for their part in the incident. Gimbert and Nightall were previously recognised by the naming of two Class 47 Freight Locomotives back in 1981 but they have since been retired from service so it was fitting to have two new locomotives named in their memory again. The Vicar of Soham, The Reverend Tim Alban Jones MBE, blessed the loco named after Nightall. The remembrance of the events of that fateful week in 1944 were rounded off with a special service on the evening of Sunday 6th June 2004 at St. Andrew's Church with the Dean of Ely, the Very Reverend Dr Michael Chandler, as preacher. The attention of the wider world was very much on the commemoration of D-Day, but here in Soham we were very much aware of the incident in our town which happened during the run-up to the D-Day landings.

60th Anniversary Photographs Courtesy of Michael Rouse

 'But For Such Men As These'

 'But For Such Men As These' - 60th Anniversary Edition
60th Anniversary Edition Released in 2004

Soham Museum reprinted the book 'But For Such Men As These' by Anthony Day in 2004 which formed part of 'Soham On The Home Front' project during the same year. The book's re-release coincided with the 60th Anniversary of the Soham Rail Disaster which took place in the early hours of the 2nd June 1944 during the Second World War. The reprint was made possible by a grant from The Heritage Lottery Fund.

On sale locally from:-
Soham Books, 38 High Street, Soham, Cambridgeshire, CB7 5HE
Burrows Bookshop, 9 High Street Passage, Ely, Cambridgeshire, CB7 4NB
Priced at £6.50

Or by post from:-
c/o Soham Museum, P.O. Box 21, The Pavilion, Fountain Lane, Soham,Cambridgeshire, CB7 5PL

Cost of the book by post is £8.00, including Post & Packaging (UK only)
Cost of the book for overseas is £12.00 made payable in UK Currency, UK Bank Cheque or by IRCS for the full amount.


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