A NEW plaque to two railwaymen who lost their lives in the York Blitz will be unveiled at York railway station on Friday - the 80th anniversary of the raid.

Station foreman William Milner, 42, and 64-year-old railway policeman Robert William Smith both lost their lives in what is often described as the 'worst night in York's modern history'

The air raids began to sound at 2.42am in the early hours of April 29, 1942.

For the next two hours, bombs rained down on York. Estimates of the number of casualties still vary. But by the time what came to be known as the ‘Baedeker Raid’ was over, as many as 115 people were dead or dying. Six were German Luftwaffe - but the rest were mostly ordinary York men, women and children.

A terrible toll was taken on York's buildings, too. Several schools were hit, as were the Guildhall, St Martin’s Church on Coney Street, the Bar Convent - and York Railway Station.

Among the casualties was William Milner.

The station foreman, a keen first-aider, gave his life trying to get a box of urgently-needed medical supplies.

He went into a blazing building at the height of the raid, and when his body was found, was said to be still holding the box of first-aid equipment. Mr Milner was posthumously awarded the King’s commendation for gallantry.

Robert Smith, a railway constable, lived with his wife and two daughters at 34 Kensington Street, South Bank, according to York local historian John Shaw.

A 'red warning' of an imminent German air-raid attack had already been given as the late running King's Cross to Edinburgh sleeping car express arrived at York Station.

The 800 passengers had been safely evacuated when the first high explosive bomb fell. This was followed by another near the parcels office - together with a shower of incendiaries. Robert, who was working in the station's post room, was killed.

The new plaque, which will be officially unveiled on Friday, pays tribute to both men.

Dr Duncan Marks of York Civic Trust, which has teamed up with train operator LNER to produce the plaque as part of the Raids Over York project, said: "How many passengers at York railway Station realise that the platforms they arrive on and the building they pass through was a bombsite 80 years ago this Friday?

"It was covered in glass from its shattered roof and twisted timbers and iron bracing that had come down due to high explosive and incendiary bombs.

"The Raids Over York plaque at the station will rightly recognise the sacrifice of William Milner and Robert Smith. But it also helps tell the story about why York was targeted and the scale of the damage done."

As part of the commemorations of the 80th anniversary of the raid on Friday, the bells of St Lawrences Church in Lawrence Street will peal out at 7.15pm in memory of those who died.