Pacific Senator: A Train Driver's Life
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Publisher: Argyll Publishing
Publication Date: 2005
Book Condition: Good
Marcel Peroche writes a beguiling memoir of how he rose through the ranks of the French railway system to drive the majestic Pacific Class locomotives. These drivers were known in France as 'Les senateurs'. He gives a graphic account of his years on the footplate - an engine crew battling to eke out the last drop of water to arrive on time at Montparnasse; stranded in a near suffocating tunnel crawling the length of the train to repair a damaged brake hose. He paints the turbulent social backdrop of the 1920s and 30s and a unique view of what it was like to work for the Germans in occupied France. He tells of a German depot manager's offer to celebrate the coming Liberation and he reflects on the folly of war. With the arrival of the Americans Peroche had new bosses. 'How can a nation with such wealth,' he remarks, 'possibly lose a war?' The life of the engine driver was always in peril from the Germans who meted out drastic punishment for saboteurs when they found them and the firing squad for hostages when they didn't. This superb memoir gives a taste of the perils and joys of the great age of steam.