By Rail to Victory – the story of the LNER in Wartime, by Norman Crump, London & North Eastern Railway 1947 [ebook]


By Rail to Victory – the story of the LNER in Wartime, by Norman Crump, London & North Eastern Railway 1947. Hard covers cream cloth binding with embossed blue lettering pp196, folding map of system 51 B&W half tone illustrations.


Norman Easedale Crump FRSS (10 January 1896 – 22 January 1964), was a British financial and economics expert .  Early employment included banking and the Federation of British Industries . He was City Editor of The Sunday Times from 1939 to his retirement in1960.

In my view this is the best of the books published by each of the “Big Four” recounting their roles in WW II. For a start the title emphasises the message that, if Britain’s railways did not “win the War” they went a long way towards ensuring that it was not lost. Secondly, in Crump the LNER commissioned a writer whose background in finance, economics and high class journalism could hardly be bettered. Thirdly by delaying publication until 1947, it was possible, thanks to some easing in the restrictions on paper usage, to print a better quality book than would otherwise have been possible. It was a book which it was intended would be noticed and can be seen as part of the LNER’s campaign against nationalisation, unless adequate compensation would be made for the arrears in maintenance incurred under Government control and that the Company’s shareholders were treated fairly.

Crump gives a very thorough description of all the wartime activities of the LNER in England and Scotland from involvement in developing a completely new “secret” port at Faslane, through the manufacture of immense quantities of war material, not just munitions, but everything from motor boats to aeroplanes, all supplied on a  “non profit, cost plus” basis.

And despite staff shortages, arrears of maintenance, and the disruption caused by “Enemy Action”, the railway had to be operated far more intensively than ever before. In common with the Southern, geography placed the LNER in the front line so far as bombing from the air was concerned, and Crump has many incidents of bravery and endurance to relate. Read about Nightall and Gimbert saving the village of Soham from destruction; and have a wry smile at the embarasment of a very brave yardmaster who refused to take shelter during air raids, in case  he missed plotting the fall of a single bomb; on one night with missiles and shrapnel raining down, he dived for cover under a wagon. When the raiders had passed he discovered that his shelter contained ten tons of high explosive…



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