AUF WIEDERSEHEN BAOR is the third and final part of our RAILWAY ADVENTURES IN CAMOUFLAGE trilogy of special trains.
We first bumped into military railways in 1986, with the dedication of LMS Stanier 8F No 8233 – a Longmoor veteran at the Severn Valley Railway – as the Royal Engineers Memorial Locomotive. It was impossible not to be impressed with the precision and confidence of the Royal Engineers who, in those far off happy pre-Defence Review days, could say We will have a Band, and it just turned up and played. UK Land Forces HQ neither knew, nor cared to meddle.
We got to turn a wheel in our own right in 1999 with the Kosovo Conflict (not “war” – watch how you speak at the back, although it did look quite war-like – hundreds of Soldiers running about, angry helicopters, hostile and frightened locals, burned buildings, the Novi Sad rail bridge bombed into the Danube, routine faith-based murders of civilian railway staff, and a spectacular mafia black market) We delivered 800 tonnes of humanitarian aid and three diesel locomotives to 79 Railway Squadron RLC and that remains, to this day, the furthest a UK freight train has travelled on its own wheels with its own engines. And we got to meet – and bribe – the Macedonian Railway Corporation – the only modern European rail operator to have actually turned feral.
In 2012 we recreated the Berliner British Military train Cold War legend and that also holds a rail industry record – the largest group of Brits on a European steam train for 50 years.
So Auf Wiedersehn BAOR will mark our own 20th year of working with the British Army. They don’t run trains anymore, it is a huge honour for us to be entrusted with running the very last one.
To all those railway men and women in green who for two decades have encouraged and cajoled us, and looked the other way when we have dropped the ball, thank you.