Foxfield Railway Virtual Stocklist
Quick links: [ Home ] / [ Current stocklist ] / [ Up ]

 

Drewry 0-4-0DM built 1941, number 2157 "WD 820" / "WD123"

 
Above: Drewry 0-4-0DM posed with appropriate Gunpowder Van at Caverswall Road, 27 August 2000 
 
This is a typical military diesel shunting locomotive, one of a group of forty built to an order of the Ministry of Supply during the Second World War. It is the most widely travelled locomotive in the Foxfield fleet, but its main claim to fame is that it took part in the Normandy landings as part of the Allied Invasion of occupied France in 1944.

The demands of producing new locomotives in a period of stretched manufaturing capacity and serious shortages of materials, led this locomotive to have very mixed parentage! It conforms to an original design by Andrew Barclay of Kilmarnock in Scotland. The Ministry of Supply order was placed with the Drewry Car Co of London for a batch of these shunters, intended for immediate use at military factories and supply depots. A collaboration of specialised firms led to quick construction of the design. The mechanical parts of this locomotive were supplied by Drewry as works number 2157 while the frames, wheels and bodywork was supplied by English Electric at Preston, for which it was issued works number 1188. The engine is a 153 horsepower Gardner 6L3 unit, driving the coupled wheels through a jackshaft under the cab.  It was actually assembled from these parts at yet another traditional railway locomotive builder: the Vulcan Foundry. Overall it weighs 21 tons 6 cwt.

Throughout its life the loco has carried several identities, but is generally now known in preservation as either "WD820" or "WD123", It was originally numbered as WD30, and from 1941 it served for three years in British military depots - wartime secrecy makes it impossible to know which. Then in April 1944 it is known that WD30 was taken to the Longmoor Military Railway in Sussex for an overhaul, ready to take part in the Allied invasion of occupied France. In June 1944, in the company of its sister locos WD29, WD32 and WD33, it moved on a tank transporter trailer unit onto a landing craft. Crossing the English Channel from Southampton to Normandy, WD30 was the third of the four locomotives to be landed, at Juno beach. Hauled up the beach by crawler tractors, each loco was re-railed and pressed into use on servicable rail lines from the beach to inland. WD30 worked on this duty until August 1944 when larger locomotives were brought in. WD30's trip was not yet over. Posted then to Chemin de Fer de Calvados, it worked on a rail system connecting the towns of Bayeaux and Caen, in particular shunting duties at Bayeaux. It was renumberd as 70030 and repaired at Maines workshops.

Return to the UK came in 1946, and then in 1950 the loco was overhauled at Baguley's works in Burton-on-Trent. Working first at the MoD depot at Bicester in Oxfordshire, then West Hallam in Derbyshire, the loco was renumbered again as WD820 in February 1952. From 1958 to 61 it went on a tour of duty abroad again, via Southampton Docks to Germany where it worked at the British Army of the Rheine depot. On return to England it was then posted to two Royal Ordnance Factories. The first was ROF Birley in Co Durham, then ROF Radway Green, near Alsager in Cheshire, in 1964. There it was renumbered yet again, as WD123.

Above: Opposite side of Drewry 0-4-0DM in Caverswall Road yard, January 2004

Latterly WD123 worked with a very similar Barclay locomotive at the Radway Green depot, known then as "Army 201" but had originally been WD47 and had served in Suez as well as France. Both locomotives carried MoD green livery with yellow/black wasp stripes. Having settled there for nearly 30 years, both were preserved and brought to Foxfield in October 1993 after cessation of rail traffic at the depot. WD123 has been restored in overall black livery with red rods and buffer beams, as it would have carried in earlier years, and has been renumberd as WD820 again. It is in full working order.

The second locomotive from Radway Green, "Army 201" was resold and moved to the Stratford & Broadway Railway at the Ministry of Defence base at Long Marston in August 1996, where it still remains, named "Mulberry".

For a detailed web page on the history of War Department locomotives WD29 to WD48 please see: http://www.keikdv.nl/hoofdframe%20engels.html and there will be found a summary table of the history of WD30
 

For more information on the Foxfield Steam Railway, its passenger services and special events please see the official website at http://www.foxfieldrailway.co.uk.