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A WW1 memorial press release by GWR

GWR First World War Memorial by Charles Sargeant Jagger at Paddington Station

 

GWR honours WW1 fallen workers with specially commissioned Armistice train

Great Western Railway is marking 100 years since the end of the Great War with a special ceremony to commemorate the 2,545 railway workers who were lost in battle. The centrepiece of the ceremony at Paddington Station on Friday 9 November will be the unveiling of a special Intercity Express Train featuring the names of all 2,545 men who worked for the GWR and were killed during the war.

Those being remembered worked in all areas of the company; engineers, labourers, solicitors, carriage cleaners and apprentices from across the GWR network which at the time stretched from Paddington to Penzance, and as far north as Liverpool, Manchester, Chester, Birmingham and Wolverhampton.

The train will be welcomed into Platform 1 at 10:30 by the Wessex Male Voice Choir before a short ceremony which will include family members of those being remembered.

After the ceremony, the train will enter passenger service as the 11:36 from Paddington to Cheltenham Spa.

To recognise the dedication and number of lives lost, the full train is being given a distinctive design, stretching along all nine carriages and including the driving cabs at either end. It includes details of where each fallen employee worked for the company, their rank, regiment, where they were killed and where they are either remembered or buried.

One hundred names have been chosen to feature pictures and more details of their story.

The train will also be named after two men, Flight Sub-Lieutenant Harold Day, D.S.C. and Lance-Corporal Allan Leonard Lewis, V.C.

Flight Sub-Lieutenant Harold Day D.S.C.

Born in Abergavenny, he joined the GWR as a Premium Apprentice at the Swindon Works. In January 1917 he joined the Royal Naval Air Service, just prior to his 19th birthday. His ability as a fighter pilot was proved with his first victory in August that year and between December 1917 and his death in February 1918 his status as an Ace was guaranteed with a further 10 victories. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

Immediately after his last victory on the 5th February 1918, his Sopwith Camel N6379 collapsed in the air while diving on enemy aircraft at excessive speed, and crashed at Harnes. German fighter pilot, Gunter Schuster, was quick to claim Harold Day as his victory. Flight Sub-Lieut Day is buried at St Mary’s A.D.S. Cemetery, Haisnes, France

Lance-Corporal Allan Leonard Lewis V.C.

Although Allan Lewis was born Whitney-on-Wye (in Herefordshire very near the Welsh border), one of nine children, he had left school at thirteen to work on the land, eventually becoming a gardener at Truscoed House near Llandeilo in West Wales.

Lewis always enjoyed working with machines, though, and this led to him becoming an employee of the Great Western Railway.  He moved to Neath, and, after a period as a conductor, he drove a GWR bus on the Pontardawe route.

Lewis joined the army in Neath in March 1915. On 18 September 1918 at Rossnoy, near Lempire in France, Lance-Corporal Lewis was in command of a section on the right of the attacking line, held up by intense machine-gun fire. He saw that two guns were enfilading the line and crawled forward alone, successfully bombed the guns and by rifle fire made the whole team surrender. On 21 September he rushed his company through the enemy barrage, but was killed while getting his men under cover from heavy machine-gun fire.

 

In addition, a newly commissioned Roll of Honour marking the names of the 2,545 will be unveiled in a permanent location at the station.

Present for the ceremony will be relatives of both Harold Day and Allan Leonard Lewis, along with relatives for four other GWR men:

Ø  Ernest Rudd who worked at Southall and was killed on the first day of the Somme

Ø  Edgar Norton who was at the Swindon works and was killed at the end of the Somme

Ø  William Hannaford who worked at Plymouth and was in the Devonshire Regiment killed in 1917 the day before his younger brother was also killed

Ø  Harry Western who worked at Exeter and was killed at the Battle of Arras. His great niece works for GWR today.

 

Ernest Henry John Rudd.

Goods Clerk at Southall, a Lance Sergeant in the 1/8th Middlesex Regiment. Awarded the Military Medal for carrying out essential work under fire, and carrying a badly wounded man back to the trench. He was killed in action aged 24 during an attack at Gommecourt on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. He has no known grave and is commemorated at the Thiepval Memorial.

Edgar George Norton.

Wagon Painter at the Swindon works, served as a Private in the 2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards. After a successful assault on German lines they came under heavy and sustained shell fire. When the battalion was relieved they had lost 456 men either killed, wounded or missing. Edgar was killed on the 16th September 1916, aged 31 and is buried in Seville Wood Cemetery.

William Henry Hannaford.

Rail Motor Conductor at Plymouth, served as a Sergeant in the 5th Devonshire Regiment. He was posted to the 10th Royal Warwickshire Regiment  in March 1918, but weeks later was killed on the 10th April 1918 aged 25. He has no known grave and is commemorated at the Tyne Cot Memorial. His younger brother, Albert, was killed a day later, aged 19.

Harry Charles Western.

Engine Cleaner at Exeter, he was a Private in the 8th Devonshire Regiment. In April 1917 during the Battle of Arras, t

 

Other Soldiers featured on the train are:

Ø  William and Ernest Leggett. Ernest cradled his dying brother before being killed himself just three months later

Ø  William Saloway who was serving on board HMS Hampshire when it hit a mine killing nearly all on board including Field Marshall Lord Kitchener

Ø  Joseph Godwin, served with the 10th West Yorkshire Regiment who suffered the most casualties on the first day of the Somme

Ø  Edwin Gomm, the first GWR man to be killed

Ø  Thomas Cruise, the last GWR man to be killed

 

During the Great War 25,479 GWR employees – a third of the workforce – enlisted despite the fact that the majority of railway workers were not required to as a Reserved Occupation. It is estimated that over 20,000 railway workers from across the UK lost their lives in the conflict.

Comments on GWR honours WW1 fallen workers with special Armistice train

There are 12 comments on GWR honours WW1 fallen workers with special Armistice train

  1. Comment by Peter Carter

    Peter Carter

    Absolutely splendid memorial to the former Great Western Railwaymen. In due course it will travel past most of the places where the men were employed. I was fortunate enough to travel on its first journey for a short way and managed to take a few photos of the names.

    1. Comment by Murray Hammick

      Murray Hammick

      Thank you for posting this Peter. Would you be willing to share some of the photos with our readers ?

      You will see that we have just posted the video link to the GWR event at Paddington. I hope it is of interest to you.

  2. Comment by Vicki buchalik

    Vicki buchalik

    Please could Edgar Norton’s relative get In touch. I’m a history teacher in Swindon and did lots of research into Edgar norton

    1. Comment by Murray Hammick

      Murray Hammick

      Thank you for your note, Vicki. I have asked the PR managers for GWR who sent us the press release if they can pass on your message to the relevant person in GWR with a request that it be forwarded to a relative of Edgar Norton. I hope it works – but please do let us know either way.

      Perhaps you would be able to send us an account of Edgar Norton and his time at War which we could publish on TMT. Although the Centenary will have come and gone, the fact is that we need to document and remember people like Edgar for more than a weekend.

      As it happens, my own grandfather, after serving at Gallipoli and other places with the Manchester regiment, ended up running the main railway workshops in France on the basis of having gained one of the very first engineering degrees ever awarded at Cambridge. In addition to all of his letters from Gallipoli, I still have all of his diaries about his time in the rail-works which I must get transcribed.

      He was in the works when the war ended and remembered waking up to see hundreds of soldiers running around celebrating. His batman explained they were trying to grab a souvenir before they all went! I believe that quite a few bits and pieces from Haig’s train went west as a result.

    2. Comment by Jean Moulton

      Jean Moulton

      Hello my name is Jean Moulton and I am the great niece of Edgar George norton

      1. Comment by Murray Hammick

        Murray Hammick

        Please let us know via email (using the info@ address) that you are happy for us to pass on your email addresses and we would be very pleased to “introduce” you to each other. Ed.

  3. Comment by Amy allen

    Amy allen

    Could you help me find my great grandad

    1. Comment by Murray Hammick

      Murray Hammick

      What was his name, Amy ?

    2. Comment by Paul Gentleman

      Paul Gentleman

      Hi Amy, if you can let me know his name, I can look to see if he is featured on the Roll of Honour.

  4. Comment by L Gaskin

    L Gaskin

    Just discovered that my Great Great Uncle Percy Charles Luscombe worked for GWR in 1916 before he joined up and was killed in France in August of 1918 at the age of 18. Would really like to know if he is honoured and any information that may be on file about him. He worked as a Cleaner in Laira, Plymouth.

    1. Comment by Paul Gentleman

      Paul Gentleman

      Hi there. Could you email me: paul.gentleman@gwr.com and I can then go through what information we have on him.

  5. Comment by Beverley Gibbs

    Beverley Gibbs

    I have been researching my family tree and members of the family worked at Paddington Station. I’m looking for for information on William Cake born in 13.03.1892 , his profession is listed as Market Porter when he enlisted on 16.11.15. I think his father worked at the station – James Cake or possibly Cairn as the Surname he is listed as a railway porter. When William is 15 he is listed on the 1901 census as a ‘Carriers Checker’- not sure what that is ? William died at The Somme on 21 Aug 1918 and I wanted to know if he is listed on the Roll of Honour at Paddington Station. Please could you let me know any information you have.

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