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(13)

Keith joyce
18 March 2022, 14:33
Chris

Feel free to drop me a line , just seen your post

Keith
Graham Monk
27 December 2021, 12:51
Hi, I have tried to reply to Chris Martin about his comments on Henry Pollard. Our family would love to exchange information and photos about our mutual relative who obviously had a really interesting life. Chris, if you read this please contact Debra or me again.
Chris Martin
31 October 2021, 16:52
My grandfather (H.J.Pollard) was Eisenhower's personal chef whilst onboard these trains. I can verify this for you Graham Monk, but I can't find any contact details for you on here. Google "cjmpiper69" and you might find me with some digging.
paul ware
26 September 2021, 11:24
His Secretary is a little confused. He was travelling through Wales not England!
Chris
14 July 2021, 11:14
This has been really interesting - thanks! I've read the Albert Phillips articles, and listened to the podcast as well.

I'd love to make a model of this train, but would need more details about the vehicles within it (types, numbers etc.). It sounds like Keith Joyce might have this information, so if you read this Keith and are happy to share, please let me know!

Thanks

Chris
Marc Haynes Amgueddfa Cymru – Museum Wales Staff
8 July 2021, 10:33

Hi David,

Thank you very much for noticing this. We have now corrected the orientation of the image.

Best wishes,

Marc
Digital Team

David Braun
6 July 2021, 00:22
The painting is wrong or has it become flipped when scanned ? The smokebox door hinges are on the left but should be on the right.
Graham Monk
21 February 2021, 21:04
My father-in-law's uncle, John Henry Pollard (known as Jack), was, we think, a chef on the train in 1944. We inherited some articles and papers fromm him including a Luftwaffer dagger and a list of autographs believd to be from Eisenhower, Churchill, Omar Bradley, Edy, Edward A Brooks, Sarah S Oliver and J. Lawton Collins. If anyone can verify his presence there it would complete a real missing link in our family history.
George Calcagnini
15 November 2020, 18:46
Hi all,
My dad, Wilson Calcagnini, was drafted in 1942 at age 29. He had been working in the NYC subway system for 13 years (started at 16....a white lie, needed the job in 1929). He was promoted to Tech Sergeant in SHAEF responsible for Ike's train throughout the 1945 European campaign. (He told me that one of the US Generals was also a NYC subway exec and grabbed him for the role - I forget the name he told me and have been unable to find any linkage back to a US General or officer and the NYC IRT Subway system). My Dad came over with Ike's rail cars on a barge from Southhampton and kept a daily log of every location to which the train traveled. It is just a one or two word location log in a small 1945 pocket calendar. He told me of multiple trips he had to make (by air) back to England to secure repair parts as necessary. He had a great relationship with General Eisenhower who affectionately referred to him as Sergeant Cal.

He told me of multiple meetings Ike had on the train with the likes of Montgomery, Bradley, Churchill and Patton....I am trying to determine on what specific dates those meetings occurred in 1945. I have read Ike's, Montgomery's and Churchill's accounts of the campaign but have been unable to nail down consistent dates of such meetings and exactly which ones occurred on the train itself. If anyone can provide a more detailed log of such activity, It would be most appreciated. It has been a fascinating exercise for me and it really puts into perspective the sacrifice and commitment these men and women made for our countries.

George Calcagnini (gcalcag@gmail.com)
Jennifer Protheroe-Jones, Principal Curator – Industry Amgueddfa Cymru – 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

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