#GuestReview for British Steam Military Connections: LNER Steam Locomotives & Tornado by Keith Langston @PenSwordBooks #BritishSteamMilitaryConnections

In Great Britain there existed a practice of naming steam railway locomotives. The names chosen covered many and varied subjects. However, a large number of those represented direct links with military personnel, regiments, squadrons, naval vessels, aircraft, battles and associated historic events. This publication looks specifically at the relevant steam locomotives which came into British Railway stock on 1 January 1948.

Memorably, the London, Midland & Scottish Railway named an express locomotive Patriot, as a memorial engine following on from a London & North Western Railway (LNWR) tradition. That name was then applied to a complete class of locomotives. In addition, a large number of the company’s Jubilee class locomotives were given names with a military connection, as were a small number of Black Five class engines. Famously the majority of the much-admired Royal Scot class of engines carried names associated with the military in general and regimental names in particular. The Stanier 8F class, often referred to as The Engines of War were unnamed by the LMS. However, one of the class honoured the memory of a Victoria Cross holder, whilst the locomotive was in the UK and under the ownership of the War Department.

Many of the nameplates were adorned with ornate crests and badges.

Long after the demise of mainline steam, rescued nameplates are still much sort after collectors’ items, which when offered for sale command high prices. This generously illustrated publication highlights the relevant steam locomotives at work around the railway network and explains the origins and social history surrounding their military names.



Today I am delighted to hand my blog over to my husband Mark, so he can share with you his review of British Steam Military Connections: LNER Steam Locomotives & Tornado!

“Published in 2019 under the Pen and Sword Transport imprint, British Steam Military Connections examines the locomotives of the London North Eastern Railway, (LNER) from the post-grouping period through to the final days of British Railways Eastern Region steam in the mid 1960’s.

The book covers quite a broad timeline, and the locomotives examined range from both ends of the operational spectrum, be they humble freight locomotives or express passenger locomotives, the common thread linking them together is that of war. The associated timeline covers a wide variety of conflicts and military interventions ranging from the First World War, through to Operation Shader if one includes the latter day commitments of the Panavia Tornado GR.4 as detailed in the final chapter.

The book is broken down into an introductory section which covers two chapters. The chapters cover the history and rationale behind named locomotives, before focusing upon the grouping of the previously independent railway companies which gave rise to the LNER on/around 1924.  The introductory section also considers the nationalisation of the railways in the 1948 which gave rise to British Railways. The opening chapter also examines the ornate world of railway heraldry, where operators such as the North British and North Eastern Railways, took an obvious pride in their image and the nations they served. Compare this symbolism with the bland corporatism of today’s part-privatised railway network and the loss will be keenly felt!

From this point onwards, the book is broken down into particular classes of locomotives starting with the Robinson B3 4-6-0 class locomotive and concluding with the Holmes J36 0-6-0 class locomotive. The final chapter is dedicated to a review of the A1 Steam Locomotive Trusts’ 4-6-2 TORNADO and its’ first decade in service. The treatment which each locomotive receives is broadly as follows: the operational history of the locomotive and / or class; a selection of images of the locomotive(s) in service, an examination of the locomotives’ name, its military connection, followed by a review of the relevant military figure / weapon / campaign.  In terms of balance, the focus is firmly set upon the locomotives, and the chapters are profuse with evocative and high quality black and white photographs from the archives. The associated military figures / campaigns are typically represented by a single photograph and a short biographical treatment which provides a brief overview of the history behind the nameplate. The military connections are sympathetically treated and provide sufficient information for a book of this type. One particular example of note is that of Somme as fitted to ex- Great Central Railway D11/1 4-4-0 (62667). The deaths of 19,240 soldiers on day one of the campaign is horrifying, couple this to the loss of 800 aircraft, the deaths of 252 Royal Flying Corps airmen, and total losses on all sides of one million for the entire campaign, it becomes clear why the interwar period in Great Britain became characterised by a national sense of irreplaceable physical loss and profound psychological trauma. The associated names of other D11 class members, Mons; Zeebrugge, Jutland and Ypres all point towards a palpable national sense of longing for, and remembrance of, the fallen.

The final section is devoted exclusively to 60163 Tornado and its namesake, the Panavia Tornado GR.4.  This chapter is lavishly produced with colour photography throughout. The author explores the first decade of the locomotives’ service from its first tentative moves in primer on the preserved metals of the Great Central Railway in 2008, through to recent endeavours on the mainline in a variety of colour schemes. The Author documents the history the erstwhile A1 Class of locomotives and then sets out the military connection between Tornado and the Royal Air Force, (RAF) aircraft of the same name.

Again, as with the preceding chapters, this section is tilted towards the featured locomotive with all but 8 photographs and 4 pages being devoted to it. This is perplexing, as this chapter focuses exclusively on one military connection affording ample opportunity for elaboration.  It would be reasonable therefore to expect a broader variety of aircraft / locomotive photographs within this chapter.  Similarly, it would be reasonable to expect an overview of Tornado squadrons; bases of operation, associated aircrew and operations.

From a personal perspective, this chapter represents something of a lost opportunity, as the Panavia Tornado was a truly groundbreaking aircraft which enjoyed a rich and varied 37-year career with the RAF.  In GR.1 form, it formed the backbone of RAF and NATO strategic thinking and participated in the first Gulf War – Operation Granby during the latter phase of the Cold War.

In GR.4 and F.3 form, the aircraft served in theatres ranging from the Bosnia; Kosovo, and the Middle East. Tornado crews participated in Operations such as Telic; Herrick, Ellamy and Shader to name but a few. It’s withdrawal from service at RAF Marham in February 2019 brought to a close a definitive chapter in the history of the RAF, and it was marked by a aerial progress of GR.4s in striking commemorative colour schemes across UK sites relevant to Tornado operations as a final salute.  It is therefore somewhat frustrating that none of the above is documented. Furthermore, the 8 available photographs within this chapter focus entirely on the GR.4 variant, 7 of which were photographed within UK airspace!

The remainder of the chapter comprises of the evolution of the locomotive and documents it’ forays on the preserved and national rail network. The standard of photography is generally good, and they provide ample opportunity for the reader to pore over this remarkable locomotive.

In conclusion, despite the above criticism, this was an enjoyable; easy-to-read, and informative book which provided a valuable and engaging insight into the naming traditions of long-lost LNER steam locomotives. In this respect, the book also documents the act of remembrance as applied by erstwhile railway companies in response to profound national trauma and loss.  The military insights, though brief in nature, could feasibly act as a springboard for further research for the interested reader.”