During World War 2 there was an urgent need for large freight locomotives to assist with the war effort at home and overseas. As the war ground on, and materials became scarce, the thoughts of the Railway Executive Committee turned to the production of a simplified LMS 2-8-0, which before 1943 was the standard War Department locomotive. The resultant Ministry of Supply design was faster to build with a simple construction. In total 935 of these rugged engines were built by North British Locomotive Co and Vulcan Foundry Ltd with delivery commencing in January 1943. However, for overseas use, particularly in the Middle East where there were more railways of lighter construction than in Europe, the 2-8-0s were rather heavy with their 16½ tons axle load.
Using many of the standard components, Riddles took the basic WD 2-8-0 layout and extended it with an extra driving wheel set to spread the weight to reduce the axle loading. In total 150 of the WD 2-10-0s were built by the North British Locomotive Co of Glasgow in two batches, the first of 100 starting in December 1943 and the second 50 in 1945.
WD 90775 – The Royal Norfolk Regiment
WD 90775 was one of 12 Austerity 2-10-0s delivered tot the Ministry of Supply in December 1943 and allocated for use in the Middle East.
After the end of the Second World War, it was abundantly clear that many locomotives were necessary in Greece. In October 1945 the British military authorities in Egypt declared that the 16 2-10-0s in store there were surplus to requirements and it was decided to send them all.
Now in the ownership of Hellenic State Railways their top link duty was the Istanbul express between Thessalonica and Pithion and another important job was the Athens to Yugoslavia International express between Thessalonica and the border.
After a working life in Greece of 27 years, 90775 was eventually repatriated in August 1984, arriving back in the UK at Ipswich Docks onboard the Greek vessel Empros. It has been working on the NNR since 2003. It was purchased by the M&GN society in 2006.
The Locomotive is numbered 90775 (as the last British Railways engine of the same design was numbered 90774) and was named The Royal Norfolk Regiment in September 2017.