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Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service


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Pietermeritzburgh is about 90 km inland from Durban, And was developed very quickly into a garison town during WW2. A good candidate for Mrs Graham to find work at would be Oribi housing 181 Military Hospital initially staffed by Red Cross and St Johns Ambulance volumteers who were given Military rank in March 1942. A lot of casualties from the Middle East conflict passed through, there was also a large PoW camp nearby filled mostly with Italian PoWs.

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Nice research.  Maybe someone could add pictures of that area and specific Military installations suggested in the previous post.  Another thought, some Geneology websites have folks adding pictures of the grave markers around the world.  Maybe a SA Geneologist, in the local SA area, could share some specific pictures and information regarding the time frame of this nice thread and help solve this mystery of the missing grave.

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B Series, thank you very much for this fascinating and eye-opening story and accompanying photos.

As a life-long researche of my local railway history in Israel (previously Palestine) and surrounding countries, as well as the current Head of the Israel Railway Museum (owned by Israel Railways Ltd.) I may be able to add some details below.

While I knew not about Sister Helen before seeing this thread, her husband has been a prominent figure in the Palestine Railways (PR) establishment for most of its existence, though not properly as Chief Engineer. Rather, John Patrick Graham was a District Engineer who occaisonally also acted in place of the absent CE. Below is his work record between 1920-1939. PR was set up on 1st October 1920 and dissolved in April-May 1948. According to the official Palestine Gazette, John Graham continued in his post as DE and retired from public service with effect from 1st April 1947. Thus he probably left Palestine before Israel's declaration of independence on 15th May 1948, as did the vast majority of PR British officers.


1123473064_JPGraham.thumb.jpg.dada0ac37fc611148176babebcdce227.jpg

Below is an example of an internal letter written in 1928 by JP Graham when he was Divisional Superintendent in Amman (Hijaz Railway, Transjordan Section), from our archives (PRCE File 119/5):

image.thumb.png.98118d1361a92efb5f51c2391599b122.png
Another letter by JP Graham, from a much later date, and now as the Haifa District Engineer, which post was the one he filled for most of his career (from PRCE file 184/40):
376879543_PagefromStandardTypesofBuildings-1943-6-excerptsfromPRCEFile184-40.thumb.jpg.84b438ed127de987ac1af97c826227f3.jpg
(PR had 2 Districts for most of its existence, these being Haifa and Lydda, the border between them being just south of Tulkarm station)

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Apart from personnel matters, some information about the railway vehicles mentioned and shown above may be of interest to the members of this forum.

Firstly, a slightly better version of the photo of Ambulance Train No. 51, taken on athe line to Jeruslaem, probably around the middle of 1918, after that line was regauged by the British Army to Standard Gauge. AT 51 started operations in the Sinai as No. 9 Ambulance Train, EEF, in June 1917, and was the second of 2 such trains provided by the London & South Western Railway Co. (the other being No. 6), both of which fulfilled similar duties. It was briefly renubmbered as No. 46 in January 1918 before gaining its final number in the global WD ambulance train series, as AT 51 in February 1918.
The 12 vehicles of both trains were later converted back to civilian use by PR, and two survive (in much rebuilt form) to this day, one of them in The Israel Railways Museum, restored to 1930s 3rd class condition. The train engine in the photo is one of a large group of L&SWR 'Adams 0395 Class' 0-6-0 steam locomotives brought the area during the war, most of which also served with PR.
1051627728_AT51onJerusalemLine-1918-TheIsraelRailwayMuseumcollection.thumb.jpg.240b7a324a9a6cb3505ac8ddc5ae1647.jpg

Hijaz Railway (HR, and note official spelling) saloon carriage No. 80 was originally built in 1906 by the German company MAN - see works photo below. The date of its conversion to a saloon is not known, but it was "sold" (i.e. scrapped) in 1933. This is in fact the first photo I have ever seen of this vehicle after conversion to a Saloon, and I am very grateful to the OP for sharing it.
172837681_CFHMAN2ndClasscoach-OrganfuerdieFortschrittedesEisenbahnwesensVol18iss51911.thumb.jpg.824e064ecbd04af77179a3ba3ed2d8db.jpg
Obviously, as No. 80 was a narrow-gauge carriage, it would not have enabled JP Graham to tour the "entire system", and was probably used by him mostly in his capacity as resident superintendent of the Transjordan section of the Hijaz Railway part of PR, plus the occaisonal trip to the PR headquarters in Haifa.

I will deal witt the various trolleys shown in a future post, spare time permitting.

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Below is a better scan of the photo of a PR trolley No. 1 with a mine exploder attached. This was taken from PR CE file 162/5(9), dealing with the 1939/40 annual report, which was never actually published, because of the outbreak of WWII. This specific photo was attached to the Lydda District Engineer's report in the file, now kept in archival collection of The Israel Railway Museum.

292562441_1-1939-40162-5(9).thumb.jpg.c8ae49e03a5c36ec11bfd494b4b3b530.jpg
The trolley was supplied by the Drewry Car Co. as part of a 1936 order for 5 similar "petrol-engined inspection railcars" each with a Ford V8 engine of 25hp, 3 being built for the standard-gauge (1435mm) Palestine Railway, the other 2 being for the narrow-gauge (1050mm) Hijaz Railway, which can be seen in Graham's photo of HR No. 2 crossing the washed-out bridge - the first photo I've see of this version..

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55 minutes ago, David Herbert said:

25HP seems very low for any version of a Ford V8 engine ?

I think that I would have wanted a much longer push bar on the mine exploder - say about 100m !

 

 

 

David, I suspect that is the RAC Horse Power rating, like a Bedford 28hp which is actually around 72 brake horse power in actual output. The RAC rating was a formula for taxation of vehicles.

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On 8/26/2020 at 11:35 PM, B series said:

 

British military operated Ford V8 truck converted with armoured body.

Mr Davies of the Permanent Way Instutution (P.W.I.),  with the red flag. 

The PWI was staffed by the Australian Railway Construction and Maintenance Group at the request of the British government.

Palestine

image.png.d2ac461c61c4068111470e328b72abb0.png

 

 

Two Ford V8 armoured trucks coupled together for fast speed in either direction "sweeping" the line. The overhead guard is for protection against bombs thrown from bridges and cuttings. July 1938 Palestine.

image.png.e14460bf924b8dac940fa4148f59992f.png

 

 

The armoured trollies converted from Ford V8 pick-up trucks are some of the most visually stiriking vehicles to have operated on PR metals. 18 double sets were built by Palestine Railways at their Qishon Workshops near Haifa, as part of the defence measures taken during the 1936-1939 disturbances known as "The Great Revolt". The railways of Palestine suffered numerous attacks by Arab gangs during these years - see more here: Arab revolt in Palestine

The first 6 pairs were based on 1936 model trucks, with 132in chassis, the other 12 pairs were based on the 1938 model, with 134in chassis - see general arrangement drawing below (source: The Israel Railway Museum archives. PR CME collection):
1913455365_PRMech_Drg.Z.M.18-DiagramofV.8FordRoadCarConvertedintoArmouredRailCar-05_08_1938.thumb.jpg.f13b249018535c0703a8eb3fd94eebe2.jpg

PR also manufactured mine exploder extensions, which were often attached to the armoured trollies. Originally weighted with sand bags, apparently they were not effective enough thus, and had benches installed instead, carrying notable Arabs from the surrounding area during patrol:
2102437593_31-1938-.jpg.002178997b36a76d37d1ec264b93aeda.jpg

PR converted some 1936 for trucks without armour as well, for patrol duties. Here is a clearer image of two in Tulkarm station c. August 1936, courtesy the Egged Bus Company archive:

614024379_1936-.thumb.jpg.8b71f99abaccfed01b2854db3b07a54a.jpg

These vehicles and others (e.g. armoured pairs of converted Model Ts - https://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/matpc.18108/?co=matpc) were operated by military, naval and police supernumary personnel.

On 8/26/2020 at 11:35 PM, B series said:

 

Mr Davies of the Permanent Way Instutution (P.W.I.),  with the red flag. 

The PWI was staffed by the Australian Railway Construction and Maintenance Group at the request of the British government.

Palestine

 

PWI is actually short for Permanent Way Inspector, a regional deputy of a District Engineer, this one specifically Being Mr. M. Davies

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On 8/27/2020 at 10:49 PM, B series said:

 

One of the faithful Baldwin S.G locomotives near Haifa. One of approx 40 of the type in use on the railway.

image.png.1ff0a5675277b9bdcd509e00a573a5f9.png

 

There were actually 50 such 4-6-0 locomotives inherited from the Army by Palestine Railways upon its formation in 1920. They indeed formed the backbone of the Standard Gauge motive power fleet until the early 1950s. Of the 50, 11 were converted to tank engines (i.e. without accompanying tenders) in the mid-1920s and mid-1930s and 5 were later destroyed in accidents early in WW2.

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