Page last updated at 14:15 GMT, Thursday, 3 December 2009

Bid to save WWI heroes' carriage

Kent & East Sussex Railway
The railway runs from Tenterden, in Kent, to Bodiam, in East Sussex

The Kent and East Sussex Railway has launched an appeal to help restore a carriage which brought home the bodies of three heroes of World War I.

The railway, which runs from Tenterden, in Kent, to Bodiam, in East Sussex, is hoping to raise £35,000.

The South Eastern and Chatham Railway passenger luggage van No 132 carried the bodies of The Unknown Warrior and nurse Edith Cavell.

It also carried the remains of merchant seaman Captain Charles Fryatt.

The carriage, which was built in 1919, transported the bodies from Dover to London following their arrival from Europe.

Cavell Van

The first journey was made in May 1919 with the body of Edith Cavell.

She had helped Allied soldiers escape from the Germans before she was arrested and then shot on 12 October 1915 for "assisting the enemy".

Thereafter, the carriage became known to railwaymen as the Cavell Van.

Two months after her repatriation, Van 132 carried the remains of merchant seaman Captain Charles Fryatt, who was shot after his vessel attempted to ram U-boat U33 in March 1915, instead of stopping, as ordered.

In November 1920, the carriage conveyed the remains of the war's highest profile casualty - The Unknown Warrior, who is buried in Westminster Abbey as a memorial to the dead of World War I.

The carriage arrived on the Kent and East Sussex Railway in 2004.

Volunteers aim to have it restored by 10 November 2010 - exactly 90 years after it carried The Unknown Warrior.

Apart from mechanical restoration, its interior will be fitted with a catafalque (the decorated wooden framework that supports the coffin) draped with the Union flag, and educational displays to demonstrate the historic journeys it made.

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Van No 132 carried the bodies of The Unknown Warrior and nurse Edith Cavell



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SEE ALSO
Steam trains face funding cutback
14 Feb 06 |  England
Steam railway wins grant
25 Aug 03 |  Kent

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