Images of Industry

Special GWR Train Used by Eisenhower, June 1944

JONES, Gwyn Briwnant

Special GWR Train Used by Eisenhower, June 1944

Date: 1994

Media: acrylic on board

Size: 345 x 445 mm

Acquired: 1996; Purchase

Accession Number: 1996.125

General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, together with British and American Chiefs of Staff, enjoyed the use of a special GWR train during the period leading to the D-Day landings in Normandy, in June 1944.
The necessities of war-time security at that time have continued to hamper recent research into the train and its movements but sufficient has been discovered to suggest that visits to Wales, for example, are believed to have been rare. Hitherto (6/95) only a single Welsh journey has been traced, when the special train - code named ALIVE - left Addison Road Station for West Wales. This Kensington terminus normally dealt with goods traffic but was well suited for Eisenhower's purpose; it was located close to central London and away from excessive public scrutiny, and also provided good access to the essential main lines radiating from the capital. It was much favoured by him.

It appears the train's destination on 31.3.1944 was Tenby, where the General inspected the 110th Infantry Regiment (28th Infantry Division). It rained ; the General caught a cold! Kay Summersby, Eisenhower's driver throughout this period , later recalled,
 
"On a trip in the vicinity of Tenby that month, we drove about 120 miles in one day, a lot of milage for England (sic). The rain was incessant; General Ike insisted on every stop, on time, and ended up with a bad cold"
Eisenhower was my Boss : Kay Summersby (1952) Werner & Co. NY

The journey home was broken up at Bridgend for a visit to troops at Margam Abbey and continued to Blandford (Dorset) for an overnight stop. After further inspections in the Chard and Taunton districts, Eisenhower returned to Addison Road on 2 April.

At this time, the train consisted of 11 vehicles, 10 of which were of GW origin; the exception was a 1st Class LNER Sleeping Car (code name "Bayonet" and stabled at Old Oak Common) - it was used personally by Eisenhower. In the painting, this is depicted as the penultimate vehicle - its normal position in the train. The two vans nearest the locomotives were GW "Monsters" and were used for conveying the General's Staff Car (normally a Packard) with various support vehicles such as jeeps and motor-cycles. The third vehicle was a utility van which housed an electric generator and steam-heating boiler. The remaining carriages comprised Sleeping Cars (2), a Restaurant Car, a Conference Car and more general passenger/brake vehicles. All the larger windows in these carriages were equipped with special metal shutters, operated electrically from within; windows in external doors were reduced by about 50% and also fitted with metal shutters, operated manually. The painting depicts some carriages with shutters in the closed position.

Eisenhower continued to use the train after D-Day and in December 1944 it was shipped from Southampton to France and used in Europe until it returned to UK control on 30 July 1945.                                                        

Comments(4)

Jennifer Protheroe-Jones, Principal Curator – Industry Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales Staff
10 May 2019, 15:25

Hi Chris,

I am sorry to say that the Museum does not hold any information on this train other than the caption for the painting – the information in the caption was provided by the artist when he made the painting available to the Museum, and is believed to have been obtained from published books on railway history and on Second World War history. You might wish to contact the Imperial War Museum in London and the National Railway Museum in York to see whether they hold information that might be useful to the project. I am sorry that the Museum cannot directly help you and hope that these suggestions may be useful to you.

Best wishes,

Jennifer Protheroe-Jones
Principal Curator – Industry

Chris Mackenzie-Thorpe
3 May 2019, 10:39
I am a volunteer at the South Devon Railway Totnes station. One of the vehicles preserved there is Monster 594 which we understand was one of the vehicles in the ALIVE train. We are trying to add to the information we have in time for the 75th Anniversary of D-Day. Any info on 594 you have would be very useful

Thanks

Chris
19 February 2019, 10:59

My grandfather was the sergeant appointed to look after Ike throughout the war and was on train alive for 5 years and in eisenhowers own words was the man that looked after Ike all of the war. I actually have the diary of the trains journey to the minute including passengers , I also have the blue print of the train that includes the make up of the cars and numbers .on top of that I have many signed documents and photographs personalised to my grandfather from ike, Churchill and Lee. I have also just finished writing a book on the subject and completed a two page spread in the Sunday express titled " Albert Phillips ". I have also carried out an on line podcast at www.historyhit.com titled Keith Joyce eisenhowers train.

Many Thanks Keith Joyce

Marvin Walters
28 March 2013, 22:17
I posted this on GI&Family International Search,FB group.We search for GI Dads and family. Thank You for your great work. marv usa

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