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Sir Ralf Billing Emerson
by Walter Birdbromide print, 1957NPG x167397
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27 February 2018, 13:17
"COLONEL SIR RALF BILLING EMERSON, C.I.E., O.B.E., who was born on 3 July, 1897, died on 30 January, 1965.
Educated privately and at Bradfield College. He joined the Royal Flying Corps during World War I and served in France from 1915-1917, when he was sent to the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich. He received a commission in the Royal Engineers in 1918, and after completing a short course at Chatham, joined the North Russian Expeditionary Force, with which he served for a year. In 1920 he was posted to India, where he joined the 2nd (QVO) Madras Sappers and Miners, took part in the operations in Kurdistan in 1923, and was mentioned in despatches. A period spent completing his training at Chatham and his studies at Cambridge University was followed by his return to India in 1926, when he joined the Great Indian Peninsular Railway. The pattern of his whole career was to revolve round military-cum-civil engineering, and railways were his life. He remained for the next twelve years with the Great Indian Peninsular Railway, becoming General Manager in 1939.
During World War II he served as G.S.O.1 with the Directorate of Movements and Transportation in the United Kingdom, Middle East, Sicily and Italy, and was mentioned in despatches. In 1944 he was released from military service to resume his work as General Manager of the Great Indian Peninsular Railway, and two years later was appointed Chief Commissioner of Railways to the Indian Government. In 1947 he attended the International Railway Congress at Lucerne and the same year retired from the Railways Board, becoming a year later a Director of Dowsett Holdings and Deputy Chairman of their operating companies. In 1953 he was appointed Chairman Designate and General Manager to Nigerian Railways and became Chairman and General Manager in 1955. In 1960, with the approach of independence, it was decided to appoint a Nigerian to this position.
Sir Ralf was the Author of a Paper presented to the Institution, ‘A project for extending the Nigerian Railway into Bornu Province’.
Awarded the O.B.E. in 1943 and made C.I.E. in 1946, he was knighted in 1956. In 1964 he was made a Companion of the Order of the Federation of Nigeria. He was a member of the Institute of Transport.
Elected a Member in 1956, he was awarded the George Stephenson Medal in 1960.
He is survived by his widow, Lady Emerson."
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