Western Desert Railway

Oral Answers to Questions — British Army – in the House of Commons on 20th October 1942.

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Photo of Mr David Gammans Mr David Gammans , Hornsey

asked the Secretary of State for War whether the successful attack by the Royal Air Force in the Middle East on an eastbound enemy train near Bir Habbata means that the desert railway, its locomotives, and equipment were not destroyed by the Eighth Army during its retreat into Egypt?

Photo of Sir James Grigg Sir James Grigg , Cardiff East

The railway referred to by my hon. and gallant Friend stretches for some 280 miles from El Daba, behind the German and Italian lines, to Belhamed, 15 miles from Tobruk. It was not possible in the limited time available for the track to be effectively demolished throughout its length. As it has now been in enemy hands some three months, the enemy have had ample time to make good any damage which we were able to effect before our withdrawal. No locomotives, except one which was completely demolished, were allowed to fall into enemy hands. It is know that since his advance, the enemy has shipped Italian locomotives to Africa. He is at present working his railway traffic with these, and with those wagons which could not be withdrawn by us in time.