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Britain's Railways in the First World War (Hardback)

WWI Transport Photographic Books Trains and Railways

By Michael Foley
Imprint: Pen & Sword Transport
Pages: 232
Illustrations: 116 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781526786791
Published: 2nd July 2021


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It is easy to believe that the only part that Britain’s railways played in the First World War was to carry the soldiers to the ships that would take them to France. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Without the help from the railways it is unlikely that the war would have been over as quickly as it was.

In Britain’s Railways in the First World War Michael Foley examines how the railway system and its workers proved to be a vital part of the war effort, one contemporary writer even commenting that he thought they were as significant as the navy. The book describes how the enlistment of railway troops for the Royal Engineers to meet the increasing transport demands of the military was to bleed the civilian system dry as skilled railwaymen were sent to work at the front. In addition, the military commandeered thousands of Britain’s railway vehicles, sending them to each of the theatres of war, and turned the already stressed railway workshops away from maintaining what remained of the country’s railways and rolling stock so they could produce armaments for the forces instead.

The book also reveals how the British were so far behind their enemies and allies in the use of railway support to the front lines that they had to plead for help from Canada.

Very informative and pleasant to read book compiling the history of WWI through the lens of the British Railway systems. I thought it was really interesting to compare events before, during and after the war.

NetGalley, Ines LIGNE

Most volumes on this subject often only concentrate on railways on the front lines or hospital train’s. This excellent book covers all aspects of the impact of the railways on society in general.

It also includes London Underground often not considered.


James Simmonds
 Michael Foley

About Michael Foley

Michael Foley developed his interest in railways after training to be a guard on goods trains. He later qualified as a teacher and spent much of his teaching career in primary schools in the East End of London. After leaving teaching to become a full-time carer to his twin grandsons, who were severely disabled, he began to write seriously for the first time. Since then he has had more than thirty local and military history books published. He has contributed numerous articles to magazines such as Best of British, This England, Essex Life and Britain at War. He has also had short stories published in My Weekly magazine. In recent years, he has written a weekly football column for the Havering Post and a weekly local history column for the Dagenham Post. He lives in Romford with his wife and grandson.

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Britain's Railways in the Second World War (Hardback)

The outbreak of the Second World War had an enormous effect on the railway system in Britain. Keeping the trains running through times of conflict was not such a distant memory for the railway companies and their workers but in this second major war of the twentieth century, the task was to prove a very different one. The railway system no longer consisted of the hundreds of companies of the past, but the ‘Big Four’ still needed to learn how to work together and forget their differences for the war effort. The logistics of the mass evacuation of children, and transporting thousands of troops…

By Michael Foley

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