Background Image
Previous Page  8 / 32 Next Page
Show Menu
Previous Page 8 / 32 Next Page
Page Background


quintinshill rail disaster


1/7RS, a Territorial Battalion recruited mostly from Leith,

then a

separate Burgh from Edinburgh, had been mobilised at the start of

World War I they were initially employed on Coastal Defence duties on

the Forth until April 1915 when they moved to Larbert, near Falkirk, to

concentrate with 52


Division before deploying to France.

At the last moment orders were received changing the Division’s

deployment to Gallipoli. The Battalion was meant to leave Larbert on

21 May to board the troopshipAquitania in Liverpool but she ran aground

in the Mersey and the move was delayed twenty-four hours. At 3.45am on

Saturday 22 May the first train left Larbert Station carrying Battalion

Headquarters, A and D Companies. The train was delayed twice en route

and running some 20 minutes late when the crash happened at 6.49am.

The reaction to the accident was swift and spontaneous.

“The survivors at once got to work to help their stricken

comrades and soon the whole neighbourhood was alarmed,

and motor cars from near and far hastened to the spot

with medical and other help. The kindness shown on all

hands will never be forgotten, especially by the people

from the surrounding area and Carlisle who gave such

valuable assistance to the injured. Their hospitals were

soon overflowing, but all who needed attention were

quickly made as comfortable as possible. Their Majesties

The King and Queen early sent their sympathy and gifts

to the hospitals.”

Of the half-Battalion on the train only 62 survived unscathed. These

survivors, including the Commanding Officer, continued on to Liverpool

where six Officers embarked, and sailed on the Sunday on the troopship,

HMT Empress of Britain, with the second half of the Battalion, while one

Officer and the 55 NCO and soldier survivors were sent back to Edinburgh.

It was a devastating blow to the Battalion and to the whole population

of Leith – it was said that there was not a family in the town untouched

by the tragedy

(see Note 2)


probably made worse by the fact that, out of

the 216 who died in the disaster, or soon afterwards from their injuries, only

83 were ever identified.

The remaining 133 bodies could not be identified or

were, literally,cremated within the firestorm of the wreckage.