Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Gunner James Samuel King R.A. Died Beighton Sheffield 12th February 1942

Many years ago I published an article on the Beighton Rail Disaster 1942 and its aftermath, and since then I have updated it as and when information has become available 

KING James Samuel. Nationality: United Kingdom. Rank: Gunner. Regiment/Service: Royal Artillery. Age: 32. Date of Death: 12/02/1942. Service No: 11264438. Additional information: Son of Samuel and Bertha Grace King, of Westcliff-on-Sea. Plot R. Grave 12050.

James is buried in Sutton Road Cemetery Southend on Sea. He is buried in buried in Plot R, outside the hedged perimeter of the War Memorial.

In March 2013 I received this e-mail from James' nephew

"Thank you for the information on your web site about the Beighton Train Disaster. I have always wondered about what precisely happened.
My uncle James King was killed in the crash. From the information on the web sites linked to yours it appears he died on the day after the crash so he must have been one of those taken to Sheffield Royal Infirmary. Jim was a 32 year old single man. He had trained to become a draughtsman. But probably due to the difficulty in finding such work in the depression had joined with his brother Stanley to start in about 1938 a sweet making firm in Southend on Sea. The firm continued into the 1960s still trading as J & S King. My two brothers and I were born after the tragedy but we all knew the outline of the story, that a metal girder/plate had sliced into a troop train from a goods train on the other line and killed my uncle and other soldiers.
You ask whether the facts were kept from the families at the time. I suspect not. My grandfather had copies of the Times report of the Crash and also a copy of the coroners report and a report from the Southend Standard amongst his papers when he died. My brothers and I were regularly taken to his grave when I was younger. I remember being shocked once when my grandfather commented that some of the soldiers on the train had been beheaded."

In October 2018 James' nephew contacted me again and kindly supplied me with a copy of his obituary from the local newspaper The Southend Standard


and also a family photograph that shows Jim's parents Sam and Bertha Grace King standing next to his grave at Sutton Road Cemetery Southend on Sea.

"The photograph was taken probably in the mid 1950s on one of the regular visits of me and my family to his grave. Jim’s parents paid for a private grave plot just outside the official Commonwealth war graves plot of Southend war dead. You can see the official war graves and memorial in the background. Their other son Stanley, my father, survived four and a half years in the army and the fighting in Normandy and across Europe into Germany".


The family are attempting to find photographs of the accident. There were photographs taken at the time of the accident but sadly the ones we have been able to obtain are of poor quality. And so if anyone knows of any good quality photos let me know and I will pass the inforamtion on

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