Romney Hythe & Dymchurch Railway in World War Two

The Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway was constructed during the 1920s and opened on 16 July 1927 as a 15" gauge (⅓ full size) fully working steam railway covering the eight miles from New Romney to Hythe. In 1928 the railway was extended southwards from New Romney through Greatstone to Dungeness, but it was reduced to a single track in 1947.

In 1940 the railway was taken over by the military during World War II. the railway line was used to deliver troops along the coast and a miniature armoured train was used on the line.

It was also used by the Department of Petroleum Warfare in the construction of PLUTO ("Pipe Line Under The Ocean") intended to supply fuel to the Allied forces after the D-Day Normandy landings. 

The war years took their toll of the Romney Hythe & Dymchurch Railway, the miniature railway being requisitioned by the War Department. They even created the only miniature armoured train in the world. The RH&D armoured train carried Lewis guns and Boys anti-tank guns and was credited with shooting down 3 German planes. 

The railway line was used extensively during the building of PLUTO (Pipe Line Under The Ocean) which fuelled the Allied invasion force. New Romney station was appointed for the production of the 140 cm diameter pipes. The pipes were loaded on flat wagons and transported by rail to Dungeness for further assembling.

RH&DR Armoured Train
Armoured Train on RH&DR in World War 11

At New Romney station a number of wagons can still be seen. At New Romney the officers were housed in Captain Howey’s home, which also had been requisitioned by the War Department. The ordinary soldiers lived in huts or tents on the site of the present-day car park.

During the latter stages of the construction of PLUTO considerable damage was caused to the track on the extension when, to speed up the work, lengths of pipe were dragged along the trackbed by bulldozers, resulting in its reduction to a single track after the war.

A spur line to the Sound Mirrors was built off the RH&DR, known at the time as the War Department Branch, which was used to transport men, equipment and building materials to the mirrors site. The branch line was closed in 1951.

Following cessation of hostilities the line re-opened, with Laurel and Hardy cutting the tape, although it would be some time before the line was fully operational, with double track.

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RH&DR Troop Train c 1943
RH&DR as a Troop Train

Photo Gallery of the Armoured Train   scroll right and left and click on a picture to see it enlarged in a slideshow