Well Done Southern

 During the Second World War, holidaymakers using the lines to the Channel ports and the West Country were replaced by troops, especially during the Dunkirk evacuation “Operation Dynamo” when the Southern Railway moved over 319,000 troops  
With the threat of a German invasion of the south coast in 1940 the volume of military freight and soldiers moved by a primarily commuter and holidaymaker carrying railway was a breathtaking feat.
When the threat of invasion receded, the area served by the Southern Railway became the marshalling area for troops preparing to invade Normandy in Operation Overlord and once again the railway played its part by providing a link in the logistics chain.
This came at a cost, as the Southern Railway's location around London and the Channel ports meant that it was subjected to heavy bombing, whilst permanent way, locomotive, carriage and wagon maintenance was deferred until peacetime.
Without the brave and selfless men and women running the railways of Great Britain during those dark times, especially the Southern Railway, the outcome of the war would have been very ominous

The Rail Industry Memorial - to read the full story        Click Here
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Southern Railwayman Joe Berry
 In 1944 during the Second World War, a young Joe Berry, along with 10,000 other men were parachuted into occupied Arnhem, some miles ahead of the advancing allied troops.
They hoped to hold out until they could link up with the advancing liberators, but the plan did not work out that way.
Out of the 10,000 men that were landed in Arnhem only about 2000 got away, Joe was one of them that didn’t, he was wounded and captured.
He ended up in a train of cattle trucks bound for Germany, but some of the prisoners managed to escape as the train slowly trundled across Europe.
In spite of his wounds Joe managed to escape and joined up with the Dutch underground movement.
His wounds were given time to heal after which Joe assisted the Dutch on many raids against the Germans, by this time there were many of the Arnhem men assisting the underground movement
In November 1944 about sixty of the Arnhem men tried to pick their way through the German lines to join up with their own countrymen.
Joe was one of a party which included Paratroopers, Airmen and American Soldiers, but Joe’s luck soon ran out again.
As the party stole through the night, they ran into some German sentries, the men broke up to gain a better chance of getting away, but a third were caught, Joe was one of them.
The second time Joe was captured the treatment he received was different; the Germans knew that he had been working for the underground so he was handed over to the Gestapo.

Poor Joe got really knocked about; he was finally released by the advancing Russians in April 1945.
The Russians held on to Joe and his mates until June before they were handed over to their own people, the reason for the delay Joe was told was that the Russians were waiting for a band so they could do the job properly!
After the war Joe returned to the railway,
He eventually became a driver at Wimbledon whilst still remaining in the 10th Parachute Battalion and carried out over 200 parachute drops by the age of 42.

 The Southern Railway Home Guard of Godalming & Farncombe

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