War Department Rail Transport Label

Even today the railways play an important part in moving military equipment around the country, offering a more secure way of sending bulky equipment such as armoured vehicles than the motorways do. Today, however, these tend to be large loads sent on dedicated wagons and trains. Before the Beeching cuts, however, the railways were used far more frequently to ship items around the country in a way that lorries and mail carriers would do today. Small consignments and parcels would be sent alongside normal civilian goods and special labels were attached to show they were being transported for the War Department and and to help with their safe delivery. Today we are looking at one of these labels from the 1950s, made of dark blue card with a piece of string attached to allow it to be fastened to a parcel or object:

We can tell it dates to after the formation of British Railways in 1948 as it refers to ‘LMR’ or ‘London Midland Region’ which had replaced the LMS. The code on the left shows the label was printed in 1951.

The interior of the label has space to fill in the specifics of who it was to be delivered to:

Looking at the label, my interpretation is that the sender put down the exact details of who it was to be delivered to on the second page, then stuck the two halves of the label together. The parcel was then delivered to the Military Forwarding Officer in Lancashire. His department would then open the label and see where in the world the consignment was due to be sent to and make arrangements accordingly, allowing items of equipment and parcels for the same destination to be gathered together and forwarded as a single lot making most efficient use of shipping space.

One comment

  1. There is story that back in the day Army Ammunition Boots were sent by rail freight on different days in separate crated consignments of left and right boots. If the theft of a consignment occurred the thieves had to find and steal the other crate to make up pairs!

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