1946 Savernake Explosion Memorial unveiled
On Sunday, 23 April 2023 a dedication ceremony took place in New Road, Marlborough, where Major General Simon Hutchings OBE and Town Mayor Councillor Lisa Farrell unveiled a memorial stone commemorating those involved in an explosion that occurred on 2 January 1946 on an ammunition train at the North Savernake Sidings near Cadley.
During ammunition train loading a series of explosions took the lives of eight soldiers, destroying 27 railway wagons, 2 army lorries and 200 tons of high explosives.
Significant damage to the Marlborough area was only averted due to the heroism shown by soldiers of the British Army, firemen of the National Fire Service and staff of the Great Western Railway. Together, these men risked death and serious injury to prevent the detonation of more than 1,000 tons of additional explosives loaded in railway wagons stabled in the North Savernake Sidings.
The memorial tells the story of this tragic event and records the names of the eight men who sadly lost their lives and the brave men who were recognised for their gallantry.
Funded by private and public donations, we have committee members Neil Stevens, Roddy Millar, Ed Newman, Andy Kerr, Matt Jones and Al Tindale to thank for the memorial, a visible reminder of the event making sure that the men involved will not be forgotten. Two of the soldiers who died, Private Whieldon and Corporal Pickersgill, are buried in Commonwealth War Graves at Marlborough Cemetery.
Members of the Royal Logistics Corps, Fire Service, Police and Royal British Legion took part in the ceremony and were joined by invited guests, families of those who died or were honoured and members of the public at the event, which was arranged in partnership between the Savernake Memorial Committee members and the Town Council.