Remembrance service honours war heroes of the railways

Flag bearers at the North Eastern Railway Cenotaph in York for the remembrance service

Flag bearers, above and right, at the North Eastern Railway Cenotaph in York for the remembrance service

Normandy veteran Arthur Wragg was among the ex-servicemen present at the ceremony yesterday.

Pupils from Longman’s Hill County Primary School, who placed crosses on war graves in Selby

First published in News

THE sacrifice made by the war heroes of the railways has been remembered at a York service.

Ex-military personnel gathered at the North Eastern Railway Memorial cenotaph in Station Rise yesterday to honour rail workers who died in the two world wars.

Together with Paul Kirkman, the new director of the National Railway Museum, they laid a wreath at the monument during a poignant service ahead of Remembrance Day tomorrow, when the UK will fall silent.

Museum staff attended the service with Ian Sparks, its explainer developer and a former member of the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers, Terry King, who served in the Royal Horse Guards, and Shaun Houldridge and Stacey Winfield, both RAF veterans.

About 25,000 railway employees died in the two wars, including more than 2,200 on the North Eastern Railway in the First World War and more than 1,000 London North Eastern Railway workers in the Second World War.

“As an ex-serviceman and a member of the museum staff, I feel obliged to show my loyalty to fallen servicemen and women,” said Mr Sparks, wearing the medals of his father, Robert, who was on the last boat to leave Dunkirk during the 1940 evacuation and later fought in Burma.

“War has again been to the fore in recent years and many young people have also made the ultimate sacrifice, so this is a particularly poignant service, especially because, as time passes, old soldiers are sadly fewer in number.”

Ian Clarkson, secretary of the British Railways Engineers Ex- Servicemen’s Association, also attended the service, which was conducted by railway chaplain the Rev Stephen Sorby. Mr Clarkson said: “The railways and those who worked on them played a substantial wartime role and many lost their lives, so it is important to remember them.”

Yesterday also saw Gillamoor Primary School pupils join residents and parents for a service of rededication to the North York Moors village’s war memorial, which was demolished by a car in March. Pupils buried a time capsule underneath the new memorial containing accounts of the accident, a Jubilee coin, a Top Trumps card, a sports day medal, newspaper cuttings, 2012 pennies and a 2012 poster. The service was conducted by the Rev Mark Brosnan and Methodist minister Norma Davey.

Head teacher Alison Tweddle said: “The memorial is really important for the children and they were devastated when it was knocked down.”

In Selby, children from Longman’s Hill County Primary School placed crosses on war graves at the town’s cemetery. Wreaths were also laid by various organisations and by Selby Mayor George Carter.

A delegation from France will be at The French Memorial, in Elvington, at 11am tomorrow, alongside representatives from RAF bases and air attaches of Allied nations, and residents. A remembrance ceremony will also be held at 1.30pm at the Yorkshire Air Museum’s Station Chapel and Memorial Garden.

Remembrance events will also take place tomorrow in York Memorial Gardens, Leeman Road, followed by a service in York Minster; at Tadcaster War Memorial; at the Pocklington First World War Memorial (with a 2pm parade from outside Burnby Hall Gardens); in Pickering Market Place, with a 2pm parade to the War Memorial; and Malton War Memorial (an Act of Remembrance and wreath laying will also be held at 9.30am at St Michael’s Parish Church, Malton). Hundreds of paper lanterns decorated by children from St Lawrence’s Primary School in York will be lit in the churchyard of St Lawrence’s church, in Lawrence Street, at a 6pm service of Holy Communion.

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