testimonial

Nearing midnight, August 22 1940 a train, with as many as fifty wagons that drew in a siding some ten days before, was hit by explosives dropped from a Dornier bomber, each truck packed full of ammunition destined for the RAOC for re-issue.

George Leach, a lengthman with the Southern Railway Company (SR), having seen the blaze from his home two miles away, arrived at the site to find his work-mate George Keen2 amongst the flames attempting to push the trucks. George, a sub-ganger, was trying to uncouple the burning wagons in order to push them away from the rest of the explosives, but his efforts weren't successful and they had no option but to gather a work party before unhooking them one by one from the other end, pushing down the metals away from the burning carriages.

With munitions exploding, debris shooting in all directions and regardless of personal safety, George Keen, George Leach and those mustered to help, including members of the local Fire Services, Home Guard and soldiers attached to a Salvage Unit nearby, placed themselves in great danger to save the lives of others. At least three wagons were totally destroyed, but as many as 42 carriages and the lives of countless people were saved. George Frederick William Keen, George Henry Leach and two military personnel were awarded George Medals for the part that they played that night, 22, 23 August 1940.

George Keen, summoned to attend the investiture at Buckingham Palace on 27 May 1941 to receive his medal from King George VI, sadly died in Guildford hospital, on Sunday 25 May, aged 43, just two days before it was to take place. George Henry Leach died in January 1994, aged 91.

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