WW2 stor about a heap of locomotives?

In “Churchill: A Life” by Martin Gilbert, Churchill is quoted on p. 824 about seeing more than a thousand locomotives pitched into a ravine by the retreating Germans. He called it an amazing sight, but if true I think that would be an understatement.

A *thousand * locomotives piled in canyon or ravine? That would be something to see. Even if he exaggerated the number – he was only guesstimating from what he saw with his own eyes, apparently – anything close to that would be quite a sight. Cut it in half and you still have 500 train engines heaped in a pile.

Anyone know about this? I’d love to see a picture.

Here’s the details: He was in the Ukraine in 1945. On Feb. 14, 1945, he drove to Saki aerodrome, a journey of three hours. “During the drive, he later recalled, ‘we saw a colossal heap of locomotives – a thousand or more – which had been pitched into a chasm by teh Germans before they quitted. Amazing sight.’”
That’s all the book says about it.

I assume the text meant “railcars and locomotives” rather than “locomotives”.

Still a huge heap of railcars and locomotives, though.

Actually, I thought locomotives made more sense. Russia uses broad gauge which the Nazi’s had to “fix” during their brief visit. Many railcars could be refitted to the narrower gauge, but I suspect it might be too much of a problem for locomotives. In order to prevent the Russians from reusing the locomotives during the Nazi retreat, some no doubt were just destroyed as simply as possible.

How many and the method of destruction could relate to some version of the story the OP relates. A scorched earth policy usually doesn’t specify the details.

On further reflection, I think so, too. “Locomotive” is a more specific term than than “train,” which would imply an engine and various rail cars. Churchill was an eloquent speaker and I doubt the choice of words was accidental.

But either way, a thousand would be a lot. I know the purpose was scorched earth, but could Churchill have been way, way off in his estimate? Wouldn’t that huge pile of locomotives or train engines have taken forever to clear? And maybe still be there?

Would they have had time to dump so many locomotives in one spot? Would Churchill have seen the remains of a German or Russian logistics strangle hold that one side or the other bombed the hell out of?

Odd note–wouldn’t the Russians, with limited production & limitless slave labor, have been able to salvage them?

Of course for the metal; almost certainly for parts, possibly for a number of trains reconstructed from many too damaged to fix; and maybe one or two that just needed fixing?

It’s the scale that keeps me thinking about this. The destruction in Europe and Russia was massive, I know, but I keep trying to picture a thousand locomotives and/or rail cars piled in a ravine.

Churchill saw a lot of incredible scenes, and this was worthy of comment from him. If *he * called it “colossal” and “amazing,” it must have really been something.

If I wanted to destroy a lot of locomotives so that my enemy couldn’t use them, I think I’d destroy them where I found. Why do my enemy a favor by collecting them all in one spot?

Assuming the story is true, the site could have been a railhead where the different gauges met. The retreating Germans would have ridden the Russian gauge locomotive to this point, transferred to a European gauge locomotive, destroyed the first locomotive to keep it out of Soviet hands, and then ridden off in the second locomotive.

To get them out of the way so the next one can get through.

I would expect a photo of something that amazing and witnessed by Churchill himself during an official visit. I haven’t been able to find anything so far, though.