Painting Of Two Soham Men Who Helped Save The Town From A Rail Disaster Is Discovered
PUBLISHED: 10:16 11 August 2009 | UPDATED: 11:01 04 May 2010
A PAINTING depicting the heroism of three men – two of whom were from Soham - is now on display at the March museum after it was discovered in Gloucestershire. The painting is one of a number of items concerned with the Soham rail crash which has been bro
A PAINTING depicting the heroism of three men - two of whom were from Soham - is now on display at the March museum after it was discovered in Gloucestershire.
The painting is one of a number of items concerned with the Soham rail crash which has been brought back to March by museum officers to be added to the existing display of mementoes.
On June 2 1944, train driver Benjamin Gimbert, from March, and fireman James Nightall, from Littleport, saved Soham from possible disaster by detaching a burning ammunition wagon from the other 51 wagons in the train.
Mr Nightall and Frank Bridges, the Soham signalman, were killed but Mr Gimbert survived with serious injuries. The two crewmen were awarded the George Cross for their actions.
In 1984 Mr Gimbert's medals were sold at Sotherby's. London accountant Christopher Clayton was the successful bidder and donated the medals back to the town.
Richard Munns, vice-chairman of March and District Museum Society, said: "Recently, March Museum was offered some scrap books which were given to the purchaser of a chest of drawers from a house that was up for sale. They were found to contain records kept by Mr Clayton of the purchase of the medals and their subsequent return to March.
"When these items were given to the museum, it was mentioned that there was a painting 'something to do with the event', under a friend's bed in Drybrook, Gloucestershire."
Museum officers travelled to Gloucestershire to collect the painting, along with an illuminated address which was given to Mr Gimbert by March Urban District Council when a plaque was unveiled in the council chamber in 1945.
The painting, by JP Honeywell of Charlton Kings, Cheltenham, shows engine 7337 with the driver, fireman and the signalman carrying a fire bucket, as the burning wagon is being drawn away from the remainder of the train.
It has been used on the front cover of a book, But For Such Men As These by Anthony Day, which recounted the events of June 2 1944.
Pic cap: The painting, collected by March museum officers from Gloucestershire.