A special collection of artefacts relating to the Soham rail disaster has been presented to the town’s museum ahead of it going on public display later this year.
The collection was being held by Soham Village College and at a special presentation yesterday was officially handed over to museum chairman, Donna Martin.
The artefacts include the George Cross presented posthumously to fireman James Nightall for his bravery on the night of the disaster.
It happened 70 years ago this year when at 2am on June 2, 1944, as Britain prepared for the D-Day landings, an ammunition train caught fire in Soham station. The resulting explosion ripped through the town but if it hadn’t been for the bravery of the men involved, it would have been completely destroyed and hundreds of people killed.
Signalman Frank Bridges and fireman, James Nightall were killed. Train driver Ben Gimbert was also awarded the George Cross as he helped Mr Nightall uncouple a burning wagon of bombs from the ammunition train in order to prevent an a catastrophic event.
“This year marks the 70th of the Saving of Soham meaning the donation of this nationally important collection of Soham Rail Disaster artefacts is all the more significant,” said Mrs Martin.
“This a generous donation and we are very much indebted to Soham Village College for its generosity. Soham Museum will be is holding a special public unveiling of the collection on June 3 at The Brook in Soham.”
Made up of representational painting of the disaster, photographs, the original brass dedication and the medals of James Nightall, including his George Cross, it will eventually go on display at Soham Museum which will be based at Soham Library from this autumn.