Memories of war on the home front

PUBLISHED: 12:07 16 November 2006 | UPDATED: 13:36 04 May 2010

Ben Bailey, from Soham, (left) with Chris Snell - Pic: Helen Drake

Ben Bailey, from Soham, (left) with Chris Snell - Pic: Helen Drake

SOHAM Museum s open day had a wartime theme. The museum put together a Soham On The Home Front project aimed to raise awareness of Soham s unique wartime history, in particular the dramatic explosion that devastated the town on 2 June 1944. A train of 52

SOHAM Museum's open day had a wartime theme. The museum put together a Soham On The Home Front project aimed to raise awareness of Soham's unique wartime history, in particular the dramatic explosion that devastated the town on 2 June 1944.

A train of 52 wagons transporting bombs for the D-Day landings caught fire at the station.

Acts of heroism by the train's crew and a signalman resulted in the uncoupling of the affected wagon and prevented an even greater explosion. Fireman James Nightall and signalman Frank Bridges died and guard Herbert Clarke, who crawled literally on his hands and knees to Barway signal box to warn oncoming trains, and driver Ben Gimbert, who was blown clear, were both awarded the George Medal. Doors and windows were blown out across the town and several badly damaged buildings had to be demolished. Soham's beautiful Edwardian railway station was flattened by the explosion.

A feature of the open day was a talk by Donna Martin, chairwoman of the museum project, who described the events of June 2.

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