GALLERY: Family of Soham Explosion Second World War March hero Ben Gimbert attend Nightall nameplate exchange at museum

14:37 16 July 2014

Name plate exchange at March Museum. Exchange of Ben Gimbert nameplate for James Nighthall nameplate. Left: Paul Hodgson, Joyce Dedman, and Jenny Amps.

Name plate exchange at March Museum. Exchange of Ben Gimbert nameplate for James Nighthall nameplate. Left: Paul Hodgson, Joyce Dedman, and Jenny Amps.

Archant

The family of March Second World War hero Benjamin Gimbert were present for a symbolic exchange of nameplates at March and District Museum today.

March train driver Benjamin Gimbert, alongside Soham firemen James Nightall, prevented the Soham Explosion, which took place on June 2, 1944, from becoming an even greater disaster.

Gimbert survived, although seriously injured, and both he and Nightall were awarded the George Cross for their actions. He died aged 73 in 1976.

In 1981, in tribute to the pair, British Railways named locomotives Benjamin Gimbert GC and James Nightall GC. The trains, which have since been decommissioned, ran from Liverpool Street to Cambridge and Norwich.

March and District Museum were donated the Benjamin Gimbert GC nameplates in 1998, but the James Nightall nameplates went elsewhere.

However, locomotive enthusiast David Hodgson, of Billericay, got in touch with the museum and, after several years of trying, an exchange finally took place - his James Nightall nameplate for the museum’s Benjamin Gimbert nameplate.

Gimbert’s daughter Joyce Dedman, 87, of March, her husband Roland and Gimbert’s granddaughter Jenny Amps attended the ceremony.

Mrs Dedman said: “It’s very nice to be asked to be here. I can remember being told what happened and visiting my father in Newmarket Military Hospital. He looked terrible. You would never have thought anyone would have got out alive.

“He didn’t talk a lot about what happened. He was a very modest man. He said it was his duty to do what he did.”

A few days before D-Day, a train consisting of 50 wagons of high explosives and detonators was destined for a US Air Force base in Essex.

Just before they reached Soham, Gimbert noticed that the first wagon behind the engine was on fire.

After bringing the train to a halt Nightall climbed down from the engine and unhooked that wagon from the remainder of the train.

They then slowly pulled the blazing wagon away from the train in an attempt to get through Soham rail station into open countryside.

As they passed through the station, the wagon exploded, killing Nightall and Soham station signalman, Frank Bridges.

The museum is holding a Hidden Stories exhibition, which runs until July 27, to mark the centenary of the First World War, with contributions from Westwood and Thomas Eaton School pupils.

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Cambs Times visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Cambs Times staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Cambs Times account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More news stories

26 minutes ago
Lizzie Bannister is doing an Isle of Wight trek.

A 27 year-old cerebral palsy sufferer from Wimblington is taking on a 106-mile trek in aid of a national disability charity.

09:49
Jane Rickwood, Janice Fieldhouse, Jean Hooper, Peter Lampitt, Liz Lampitt, Ted Karwoski, Gillian Young, Peter Durose and Shelia Shipp. Picture: Barry Giddings.

A church went all out to celebrate its 25th anniversary over the weekend.

09:34
Steve Barclay bowls the first wood. Picture: Barry Giddings.

Parliamentary candidate Steve Barclay was on hand to bowl the first wood at Chatteris Bowls Club’s opening day of the season.

A cycleway linking Ely with Sutton is due to be completed within a fortnight, according to Cambridgeshire County Council.

Most read stories

Most commented stories

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Cambs Times e-edition today E-edition