Category Archives: French Artillery Railways

French military light railway equipment.

October Joffre Action!

It was the last Steam & Industry weekend at Apedale last weekend. You never know what might happen on these weekends. This weekend we steamed the newly restored Joffre for some crew training & de-bugging. Whilst it was out and about, we managed to get 2 of the WW1 wagons incorporated into the test train.

Here’s a little taster of what we may be able to repeat again next year…..

Joffre & WD TrainJoffre & Tank wagon

Apedale Progress!

 

Sorry that it has been a little while since the last post (again!) – I have been completely overwhelmed with work at Apedale recently. This has included some WW1 rolling stock projects & organisation of our major Annual Gala (10/11th September).

Anyway, you may have read about the progress being made with some WDLR bogies over the last few months. these have finally made it under a vehicle…

p1020037s p1020052s

In addition to this newly reconstructed Class D wagon, we also managed to turn out our Kerr Stuart Joffre Locomotive. This is as accurate a restoration as we could manage back to WW1 condition. Seen here with our 40hp Simplex – a sight almost certainly not seen since a around 1919!

p1020057s DATE FOR THE DIARY – 8/9th September 2012!

Enjoy!

Moseley Railway Trust Press Release – Jan 2011

Good evening! The Moseley Railway Trust has issued the following press release.

Regards,

Simon Lomax
Publicity Officer, Moseley Railway Trust

PR BEGINS…..

Press Release:- Kerr Stuart steam loco will run for the first time in 50 years at Apedale

KS 3014 - joffre rebuilding progress

KS 3014 - Joffre rebuilding progress. October 2010

The owners of Kerr Stuart steam locomotive no.3014 are delighted to announce that the restoration of this locomotive has now entered its final phase. The locomotive will soon be moving to the Moseley Railway Trust site at Apedale, where it will be used to haul trains on the 2’0” gauge Apedale Valley Light Railway.

It is entirely appropriate that the locomotive is based at Apedale, which is just a few miles from the Kerr Stuart works where the locomotive was constructed in 1916. No.3014 was ordered by the French Commission for their artillery railways, and was delivered new to Nantes, France during WW1. Kerr Stuart built 70 locos of this type, known as the “Joffre” – named after the famous French General. After the war, it was sold from Verdun to a dealer, Brunner & Marchand of Borray, Seine & Oise. In October 1930, it was sold on to a stone quarry – Societe Anonyme des Carrieres de la Valee Heureuse et du Haut Banc, Marquise Rinxent in the Pas de Calais area of northern France. By August 1956, the locos on this site were derelict. In 1974, 3014 and four similar “Joffres” were repatriated to the UK onboard the ferry “Free Enterprise VII” on 11/10/74.

3014 and three of the other locos eventually resided at the Gloddfa Ganol slate quarry museum complex, near Blaenau Ffestiniog. Here, it was mounted on a plinth alongside the museum operator’s house. It became a familar site to passing motorists as they struggled up the lengendary Crimea Pass road out of Blaenau to the north. Following closure of the Gloddfa Ganol museum, the loco was acquired by the 3014 Society. The locomotive has been restored at a number of sites, and was recently test-steamed for the first time in fifty years.

The key remaining activity on the locomotive is to complete the work on the side tanks, followed by detail finishing and testing. It is expected that the locomotive will be completed and moved to Apedale during Spring 2011.

It is planned to hold a “launch day” for 3014 at Apedale; the date for this will be announced in due course. The Moseley Railway Trust is hoping to determine if there are any surviving Kerr Stuart employees – the company closed in 1930, so it’s JUST possible! Any leads in this regard would be appreciated.

Joffre Works photo

Kerr Stuart Joffre worksphoto

Notes on British & French light railway crew uniforms…..

Kindly provided by simon moore

British

The British Light Railway Operating Companies wore standard British Army Service Dress which consisted of ankle boots, khaki trousers and tunic with a grey collarless shirt beneath; the trousers being supported by braces.

The Royal Engineers insignia worn consisted of brass shoulder titles and a ‘GvR’ (George V) Royal Engineers cap badge in brass for Other Ranks and bronze for Officers, badges and devices denoting N.C.O rank were worn on both sleeves with Officers rank being denoted the standard brass shoulder devices.

The later pattern soft Service Dress caps or ‘Trench Caps’ seem to have been worn for the most part with the ubiquitous Mk.I ‘Brodie’ Helmet being worn in forward areas.
Puttees were not worn by all and seem to have been optional, perhaps being more commonly worn by guards who often had to dismount from the train.

Aside from the uniform various forms of overalls and working jackets and over trousers can be seen in photographs, as dictated by the peculiarities of running a railway. Men are also seen wearing the overall leather jerkins, an item of clothing dating back to Medieval long bow men and still worn by troops through to the 1980s, these were most often worn when working on exposed locos like the Crewe Tractors.

French

The French 60cm Light Railways were operated by men of the Artillery, more specifically men from the Régiments d’Artillerie à Pied or Foot Artillery Regiments, the men were mainly from the 10eme Régiment d’Artillerie à Pied until, in 1917, all men operating the Light Railways were transferred to a new unit, the 68eme Régiment d’Artillerie à Pied.

The men wore standard Artillerist’s uniform though this changed a great deal throughout the war as the gaudy red and blue uniform still worn in 1914 was superseded by various designs in the famous horizon blue. The uniform situation is further confused as many of the railway troops, not as reliant on camouflage as the men in the front line held on to more colourful items from their old uniforms long after they had disappeared elsewhere. The basics, irrelevant of colour were, like the British, ankle boots, trousers also termed ‘breeches’ which narrowed at the calf to allow the wearing of puttees. A collarless shirt in plain white or with grey pinstripes was worn with braces to support the trousers and over this a short-collared tunic and a greatcoat or ‘capote’ which was manufactured in various patterns.

Tunic collar insignia.

Above left; triangular greatcoat collar insignia of the 10eme Régiment d'Artillerie à Pied. Above Right; tunic collar insignia of the 68eme Régiment d'Artillerie à Pied.

The insignia was of standard Foot Artillery pattern; red collar patches showing the regimental number in dark green with piping in the same colour. A dark blue-black patch was sometimes also worn on the front of the kepi bearing the regimental number in red. Both Officer and NCO rank was denoted using standard French Army insignia.

 

French Artillery Railway - Uniform hats

Above top; the 1884 pattern kepi worn at the outset of hostilities badged to the 10eme Régiment d'Artillerie à Pied. Above bottom; the 1914-15 pattern horizon blue kepi badged to the 68eme Régiment d'Artillerie à Pied.

The Kepi worn at the outbreak of hostilities was made in dark blue-black cloth with red piping and seems to have been worn by many men until late in the conflict even though it had been officially superseded by a design in horizon blue, this later example can also be seen being worn in various photos. Adrian helmets seem to have been worn rarely by the railway men, when worn they carried the crossed cannon insignia of the Artillery on the front.

As with the British it seems the men operating the French Artillery Railways rarely wore puttees, though over trousers and overall jackets are often seen in photographs, from white through to dark shades though black and white photos don’t allow colour to be determined; these non-uniform items often being worn with the earlier pattern dark blue kepi.

More information is always welcomed – please leave a comment!