Abbie Sweetwine

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Abbie Sweetwine
Drawing of Abbie Sweetwine treating injured.jpg
Drawing of Abbie Sweetwine treating injured during the 1952 Harrow and Wealdstone rail crash
Born28 May 1921
Died7 May 2009
EmployerUnited States Air Force

Abbie Sweetwine (28 May 1921 – 7 May 2009) was an African-American nurse who was called "The Angel of Platform 6" for her work during the Harrow and Wealdstone rail crash.


Nurse Sweetwine was born in Florida.[1] She began her service life in the army.[2] Sweetwine is well known for her involvement with the Harrow and Wealdstone rail crash.[3] During the morning rush hour on October 8, 1952 a three-train collision at Harrow & Wealdstone station resulted in hundreds of casualties. Fortunately, members of the 494th Medical Group of the United States Air Force were on board one of the trains, and called their new hospital station in South Ruislip. The Air Force Hospital sent out an emergency response team, which included 7 doctors and one nurse – Abbie Sweetwine.

Nurse Sweetwine and her colleagues established a triage station on the side platforms of Harrow & Wealdstone station. Along with the doctors who had responded to the emergency call, she started to sort and treat the wounded before they were taken to hospital.[4] To those who were lightly wounded or in emotional shock, Nurse Sweetwine handed out cigarettes and tea. To casualties she provided blood plasma and morphine. [5][6] Using her own lipstick, Sweetwine marked the people who had been treated with an 'X' and those treated with morphine an 'M'.[7] She relayed this information to the ambulance crews, who informed the hospitals about the status of each patient.[8] Sweetwine's efforts ensured that patients did not receive an overdose of morphine. The Daily Mirror dubbed Sweetwine "the Angel of Platform Six".[4] In January 1953 she was invited to a celebratory luncheon of the Royal Variety Charity at the Savoy Hotel.[9] They presented her with a cigarette case with her name engraved upon it.[10] By the time of her retirement she was a major in the United States Air Force.[2]

She died at the age of 87 and is laid to rest at the Arlington National Cemetery.[4]


  1. ^ "British Train Wreck Heroine". Jet. 2 (26). Johnson Publishing. 23 October 1952. p. 14.
  2. ^ a b "Abbie L. Sweetwine". Legacy. Retrieved 2019-10-09.
  3. ^ "Angels and Errors: How the Harrow & Wealdstone Disaster Helped Shape Modern Britain". London Reconnections. 2012-10-08. Retrieved 2019-10-09.
  4. ^ a b c "History Remembers Lt Abbie Sweetwine, "The Angel of Platform 6"". Air Force Medical Service. Retrieved 2019-10-09.
  5. ^ Online, Harrow (2016-06-29). "Heroism and Tragedy: The Harrow and Wealdstone Rail Crash". Harrow Online. Retrieved 2019-10-09.
  6. ^ (2012-10-08). "'A 40-foot pile of splintered wood and tangled steel': Eyewitness account of Britain's worst rail disaster". mirror. Retrieved 2019-10-09.
  7. ^ Majumdar, Debabani (2012-10-08). "Rescuer recalls Harrow rail crash". BBC. Retrieved 2019-10-09.
  8. ^ " - Your favorite newspapers and magazines". Retrieved 2019-10-09.
  9. ^ Limited, Alamy. "Stock Photo - Jan. 01, 1953 - The Angel of Platform six is honoured Heroine of the Harron Rail Crash.: The Variety Club of Greet Britain paid a special tribute to Lieut, Abbie Sweetwine". Alamy. Retrieved 2019-10-09.
  10. ^ Mirror, View from the. "Harrow and Wealdstone". View from the Mirror. Retrieved 2019-10-09.