It is always nice to rediscover something in your collection you had forgotten you had. This was the case last week when I came across a photograph album I bought many years ago containing a large number of images from a man who had served on the Longmoor Military Railway from 1945 until the mid 1950s. As well as many great shots of the men themselves, there are also some fantastic photographs of the locomotives in service and over the coming few months I will be dipping into this album every so often to bring you some of the gems. We start tonight with a nice shot of a soldier in front of an S160 locomotive:The soldier wears shirt, beret and battledress trousers to give an informal work uniform suitable for working on locomotives:The engine itself is numbered 93257:This was an American produced S160 locomotive, built by ALCO in January of 1944, and named Major General Carl R Gray Jr:The S160 was a cheap mass produced locomotive produced in the USA for use on the railways of Europe following their liberation. The engine was designed by Major J W Marsh of the US Army Corps of Engineers and huge numbers were shipped to the United Kingdom before D-Day. Whilst many were stored in the open, a significant number were pressed into service in the UK, helping the vastly overworked engines of the big four railway companies. British railway men liked the self-cleaning grates of these new engines, but found the axle-boxes difficult to keep oiled and certain aspects of the design caused confusion due to the differing working practices on both sides of the Atlantic.
The S160 at Longmoor Military Railway seems to have been a lone example with the British Army, acquired in January 1945, and one former railwayman at the LMR noted that it was only used occasionally. It was still in existence as late as 1955, but I have had difficulty tracking down the full history of the locomotive in LMR service.