Cavell Van will be open to visitors for Armistice Day & Remembrance Day at the Kent & East Sussex Railway


Lewis J Brockway

The historic Cavell Van will be at Tenterden station from Friday 11 November in time for Armistice Day and will remain at Tenterden Station until after Remembrance Sunday on 13 November 2016.

Visitors can enter the Cavell Van between 10.30am and 2pm on these days to learn all about the Cavell Van’s historic past and its connection with famous war heroes, Nurse Edith Cavell, Capt Fryatt and the Unknown Warrior.

Volunteers at the railway constructed the display which has a replica of the Unknown Warriors coffin which is placed upon a catafalque covered by a Union flag. The replica coffin is decorated in the same way as the original with metal bands, sword and plaque.  Visitors can also watch newsreels from 1919 and 1920 of the three burial processions and scenes of the trenches.

Built in 1919, the first of the Cavell Van’s journeys from Dover to London was made during May, 1919, when No.132 carried the body of Nurse Cavell. Thereafter, it became known to railwaymen as the Cavell Van.

Nurse Cavell helped allied soldiers in Belgium escape the Germans. She was arrested, confessed, was court-martialled and shot on October 12, 1915, for assisting the enemy.

Van 132 also carried the remains of merchant seaman Capt Fryatt. In 1916 his ship was surrounded by enemy destroyers and boarded. Capt Fryatt was charged with attempting to ram a German U boat and was shot after a show trial.

The van’s most poignant duty came in November 1920, when it conveyed the remains of the Unknown Warrior – the war’s highest profile casualty.

Entry to see the Cavell Van is free and the Station Refreshment Rooms at Tenterden Station will also be open between 11-2 for teas, coffees and hot soup/rolls.

To find out more about the Cavell Van visit