100 years ago today a train packed with Scottish soldiers heading for a ship at Liverpool that would take them to the front lines at Gallipoli collided with another passenger train at a signal box at a place called Quintinshill not far from the English border.
The resultant pile up – which eventually involved 3 other trains – and a virulent fire on board the carriages has gone down in history as the single worst British rail disaster.
Over 200 people were killed, the vast majority being the soldiers who were bound for Gallipoli. 2015 is also the 100th anniversary of that bloody, bungled campaign.
Over 50,000 British, French, Australian and New Zealand troops never made it back from that bloodbath and double that number of soldiers were wounded or maimed.
If the train crash had not happened, I can’t help but wonder how many of those soldiers would have perished anyway.
Theirs was a doomed, cursed generation and I think that even 100 years on the loss of all those men in the year 1914-18 is possibly the biggest calamity ever to have befallen Europe and from which it has never recovered.