October 31st 2017

Assisting an Orbital Railway Project

350 Sqn take part in railway project (2)

350 Field Squadron help out the Norfolk Orbital Railway Project

A team of five volunteer bomb disposal and search specialists from Nottingham took part in a completely different type of training exercise that saw them get a former railway back on track.

The reservists, who each serve with 350 (Sherwood Foresters) Field Squadron (EOD), gave up their free time to work alongside The Melton Constable Trust.

The Trust is in charge of the Norfolk Orbital Railway Project  that is working to clear trees and overhanging branches to bring the former railway back to life.

Reservist at work during the railway project

Reservist at work during the railway project

Sergeant Philip Brazier from 350 Field Squadron took part in the clearance exercise. He said: “The railway track bed was raised in 2016 and has now settled and is ready for new track to be laid. However, the Trust needed our help to remove trees and other undergrowth that was preventing the next stage of the project commencing.

“We regularly undertake specialist search exercises but this was a training event with a difference. We often have to search for, and clear, objects that could prevent the use of communication routes, but this time the Norfolk Orbital Railway team had already identified which natural objects they wanted to have cleared.  We were also fortunate have Warrant Officer Class Two Tim Illsley in our unit who is a professional arborculturalist and was more than happy to lend his skills to the task.”

During the exercise, the team stayed at Cley Church in North Norfolk.  The churchyard of which contains a small number of graves from both World Wars.

Sapper Andrew Marriott tidied the graves of two First World War Sappers, one of whom, Sapper George Mellor, is known to have contracted pneumonia on the Western Front and died at Kelling Sanitarium in 1915.

By coincidence, this sanitarium (now a community hospital) was adjacent to the task site the team were working at.  Research by Sergeant Brazier has found that Sapper Mellor was a pre-war regular soldier from Crich in Derbyshire, who was on duty at Queen Victoria’s funeral in 1901 and had fought in the early actions of the war in 1914.

Working on the project

Working on the project

Philip continued: “Sapper Marriott found a .303 cartridge case next to the grave that may have been fired by the burial party from the South Nottinghamshire Hussars, who were stationed in North Norfolk in 1915. The grave was brought to our attention by members of the Trust we were working with on the railway project, so we were honoured to be able to do our bit and tidy the grave of a man who served his country all those years ago.  Finding that there was a link to our unit’s local area has made this even more relevant.”

“We regularly undertake specialist search exercises but this was a training event with a difference."