Colonel Péchot: Tracks to the Trenches


This is a biography of the father of all military narrow gauge railways - a modest French soldier, Prosper Péchot. He realised their potential, not only in stopping the enemy but also in taking war to their doorstep. This is his story: how he developed this game-changer and how it was copied and used to deadly effect by both sides in World War One.

Four chapters are biographical, three give background, and four are on the technical details of his work, including the Péchot-Bourdon locomotive. 256 pages, more than 280 illustrations. Cover by James Albon. 15 maps and technical drawings. Hardback.

This really is a magnificent book, and one anyone interested in World War 1 should have. The author looks not only at how Péchot arrived at his ideas for narrow gauge lines for military use, and arrived at the 60cm gauge for these, but how the Germans especially realised their military significance, and by the start of the War were actually better prepared for their use, as well as how the British realised during the war how useful they were, and the Americans benefited from the accumulated knowledge - and considerable orders for locomotives and rolling stock. The author also links Péchot's story to the forts, both on the frontier with Germany and around Paris, for which the railways were originally conceived, the various campaigns, both in France and its overseas territories, where 60cm lines were used and the equipment used by the British and American forces.


All this alongside how Péchot developed the special locomotives, partially named after him, and the special rolling stock and very versatile trackwork system used.

Published in a relatively short print-run, so I wouldn't put off ordering your copy for too long!