My father drove the train Churchill used on visit to Norfolk
PUBLISHED: 09:15 16 June 2015
© Archant Norfolk 2013
When Charles Stokes opened the EDP on May 1 and read about Winston Churchill's visit to Weybourne Camp during the war, he turned and looked over to this photograph of his father.
The framed black and white picture is of Tom Stokes, a senior train driver from King’s Lynn, firing up the engine and getting ready for the Prime Minister’s tour of the Norfolk coast.
On the back of the picture is a sticky label that reads: “November 1943. Thomas Stokes. Waiting to drive Prime Minister Winston Churchill to Weybourne (Visiting Coastal Defences).”
Mr Stokes senior was transporting Churchill around the county on a dedicated visit to the sea defences, ensuring that the coast was ready for any kind of invasion.
“It was a very important visit and my father wanted to make sure everything went smoothly,” said 101-year-old Charles, of Gaywood Hall Drive. “So he absolutely insisted on choosing his own fireman for the occasion.”
For the visit, Mr Churchill travelled from London to King’s Lynn on the train, and transferred to the then Lynn South station to make his way towards Sheringham for Holt.
Charles, who is one of Britain’s last surviving Battle of Britain veterans himself, said: “During the journey, they were stopped at Melton Constable because it was owned by a different line; he told the army officer in charge that they would be driving straight through.
“He was very clear they wouldn’t be disconnecting the train at all.”
He added: “My father could be very firm with his instruction and able to get his own way when he wanted.”
Tom Stokes died in 1964, aged 81.
- Charles Stokes’ autobiography is called A Century of Life and is priced £10. It is available through Fast Print Publishing at www.fast-print.net/bookshop. All profits go towards the East Anglian Air Ambulance.
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