Quintinshill 2015

You don't have to go to Europe to see the scars of the Great war - it is all around us wherever we may be. 

Last week as I drove through the South of Scotland I stopped off at Quintinshill, a place sadly famous for being the spot at which Britain's worst rail disaster occurred. 

A troop train packed with 500 Gallipoli bound soldiers, mostly Royal Scots, crashed into a passenger service which was stationary on the main line near the border between Scotland and England.  Just over a minute later, an express train travelling north crashed into the wreckage of the first crash.

Gas from the lighting system of the troop train's old wooden carriages caught fire and it took 23 hours to extinguish.

More than 200 soldiers were killed, as well as 12 civilians. 

In addition to the deaths, there were 246 people injured.

The carriages which transported The Royal Scots that day were lit by gas. The hot coals ignited the gas tanks and set off a huge fire.

There were reports that some trapped soldiers were shot rather than suffer the pain of being burnt to death.  Of the half-battalion on the train only sixty-two survived unscathed.

Those soldiers from The Royal Scots who survived the crash looked so destitute when they returned to Edinburgh that they were taunted by schoolchildren who thought they were enemy prisoners of war.

While the signalmen responsible for the crash at Quintinshill were both jailed, they served just over a year in prison and were re-employed in the railways after their release.