“Thanks for the es­cort,” the Queen said

Dubbo Photo News - - Dubbo Weekender - By YVETTE AUBUSSON-FO­LEY

“THANKS for the es­cort.” It’s a phrase 88-year-old Dubbo res­i­dent Fred Bell will never for­get.

Dur­ing the young Queen Eliz­a­beth’s visit to Aus­tralia in 1954, she jour­neyed by train from Bathurst to Cen­tral Sta­tion on the Gov­er­nor Gen­eral’s rail­way car­riage.

Mr Bell was a train driver in Syd­ney and had been run­ning very ex­cited school chil­dren from Black­town into Syd­ney where they were wait­ing to see the Queen.

“We were sta­tioned at Black­town as a lone engine, which means no car­riages, and we had to wait for the Queen’s train to come through and then fol­low.

“They had an es­cort engine in front of it, but they pulled it off at Black­town as there was a prob­lem with it. We were told, ‘Out you go, you’re run­ning es­cort.”

An es­cort engine is a front line of de­fence to the royal train in the event of an ac­ci­dent or de­lib­er­ate at­tempt to sab­o­tage the line. Mr Bell didn’t think twice about it.

“We got in front all the way un­til the Clyde mar­shalling yards there and her train fol­lowed us in, on the line next door, and she was out the back of the train. As it went past, we gave her a wave. She waved back and said, ‘Thanks for the es­cort.’

“It was just one of those things you never for­get,” Mr Bell told Dubbo Photo News.

How­ever, it wasn’t Mr Bell’s first brush with roy­alty. In 1946, he was stand­ing on a street cor­ner in Syd­ney, when the vis­it­ing Lord Louis Mount­bat­ten’s car was turn­ing there.

“His win­dow was down and he said to his driver, hold it a minute! He said to me, ‘Hello, young fella, how are you? I said, ‘I’m very well sir’. He said, ‘What’s your name?’ I said, ‘My name’s Fred.’

“’My name’s Louis,’ he said, and he put his hand out and shook my hand.

“I went home and told Mum I was never go­ing to wash that hand again. Mum just laughed at me,” Fred said. Fred Bell was a train driver in Syd­ney in 1954 and drove a lone engine in front of the royal train to pro­tect the Queen from track tam­per­ing. PHOTO: DUBBO PHOTO NEWS

PHO­TOS: WITH PER­MIS­SION MU­SEUM OF AP­PLIED ARTS AND SCI­ENCES

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