The LMS at War, by G.C, Nash, London Midland and Scottish Railway, 1946. [ebook]


Book, hardback,10”x 7.75” cream cloth binding, embossed maroon title, embossed gilt company seal, maroon dust jacket, pp. 88, company system map endpapers, 8 colour Plates by Norman Wilkinson, including frontispiece, 15 B & W photogravure photographs.


In several respects, this is about the best of the “What We Did In The War” books published by the Big Four. It benefited by coming out a little later thanthe others, when restrictions on paper and printing were easing. It was written by G. C. Nash, one of the “Punch” magazine stable of writers who could turn their hand to almost any, subject, many of whom did odd commissions for railway companies to earn a little “jam” to spread on their bread and butter. They had a light agreeable style, as distinct from the Southern offering,( ) written rather stiffly by an elderly golf correspondent, and the LNER book ( )written by an eminent economist and financial journalist, partly as propaganda to persuade the Government to offer fairer terms to the railways at nationalisation. Both of these were almost “War Memorials” whereas “The LMS at War”, if not a celebration, was more a grateful act of remembrance of the price of victory. Additionally the LMS book features 8 superb colour plates of paintings by Norman Wilkinson (24 November 1878 – 31 May 1971).

Wilkinson was primarily a marine painter, but he was also an illustrator, poster artist and wartime inventor of “Dazzle Painting” to protect merchant shipping during the Great War. He began his working life in 1898, (and was still painting in his 90s)when his work was first accepted by the Illustrated London News, for which he then continued to work for many years, as well as for the Illustrated Mail. Throughout his life, he was a prolific poster artist, designing first for the London & North Western Railway, and maintained this connection with Euston after the formation of the LMS. He was never on the staff, but throughout the company’s existence was almost “artist in residence” producing over 100 posters, not only of LMS shipping, but also historic buildings and landscapes on the network. He offered general advice and assistance to the LMS on publicity matters, including the selection of suitable artists, and it is almost certainly due to Wilkinson that a recognisable style evolved for the company’s advertising.

Of the eight plates in this book, two feature Wilkinson’s favourite subject – ships, but others show he could work with equal assurance on tanks and aircraft under construction in LMS works, locomotives, including a requisitioned Stanier 2-8-0 hauling a train of supplies in Persia, destined for Russia and a black streamlined Coronation class Pacific being cleaned. There are two spirited depictions of enemy attacks on the railway. My favourite is “LMS EXPRESS BOMBED AND MACHINE GUNNED NEAR BLETCHLEY, OCTOBER 1940. All that is lacking is a speech baloon emanating from an irate traveller in a first class compartment. “Not only is this damned train late, but now the bloody Huns are machine gunning us…”



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