Some of the survivors of the Gretna crash © IWM (Q 70009)

100 Years Ago Today: More than 200 British troops die in train disaster

Posted on on 22 May 2015
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A troop train was involved in the worst rail disaster in UK history on May 22nd 1915.

More than 200 soldiers of the Royal Scots, on their way to fight at Gallipoli, were killed in a crash between three trains near Gretna, on the border between Scotland and England. 

Most of the men were territorial soldiers, serving with the Leith-based 7th Battalion, the Royal Scots. 

They were travelling to Liverpool to board ship for Gallipoli when a signalling error resulted in a head-on collision between their train and a local train on the mainline between Glasgow and Carlisle.

The wreckage was then almost immediately hit by an express, causing the gas lighting in the wooden carriages to explode.

Two signalmen were jailed for causing the soldiers' deaths in what became known as the Quintinshill disaster, after the name of the local signal box. 

The 100th anniversary of the tragedy is being marked with events in both Gretna and the Edinburgh district of Leith where the troops are buried.  

They'll be attended by the Princess Royal and Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon. More details can be found on the WW100Scotland website.

Source: Wikipedia/various

Images courtesy of the Imperial War Museum © IWM (Q 70009)

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News