Fusiliers welcome Remembrance Locomotive to King’s Cross
100 years after British Troops left in their hundreds of thousands on trains to fight in the First World War, modern soldiers from the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers gathered on the platform at King’s Cross to meet another important train representing those who never made the journey home. The railway helped Britain’s forces to mobilise and The Fusiliers were among the first soldiers to leave for the front as part of the British Expeditionary Force.
Coinciding with the centenary of the eve of the end of the Battle of the Somme, Virgin Trains ran a special Remembrance themed locomotive across this morning's East Coast route.
The 06.00 service from Berwick to London King's Cross hosted 15 veterans, members of the Fusiliers Band and serving soldiers on board who shared stories and readings with passengers along this morning's journey, and the train was saluted by serving Army personnel on platforms at Newcastle, Durham, Darlington, York and Retford stations.
The Fusiliers' Corps of Drums played the popular North East song "Blaydon Races" on the King's Cross platform to welcome the passengers to London shortly after 10am where they were joined by Lieutenant Colonel Jez Lamb of the 1st Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers for a short ceremony.
Lieutenant Colonel Lamb said: "We Fusiliers are incredibly proud of our rich heritage. We produced more men to fight in the First World War than any other Regiment and fought in every campaign of the war. Fusiliers won the first two VCs of the war and its final two.
Pictured: Fusiliers Corps of Drums played for the travellers as the train made its way from Berwick in the north, to King's Cross.
The journey in 1914
22,500 Fusiliers died in the Battle of the Somme alone, and the scale of our actions, achievements and losses is deeply humbling for young soldiers who join us today. I am very grateful to staff at Virgin Trains for this amazing gesture of support. The Remembrance Journey has allowed us all to remember our forefathers' sacrifice in a special and unique way".
Transporting men and machinery from around the country was a priority and on 10 August 1914, the first dedicated military supply train departed London Waterloo for Southampton.
Over the next three weeks, a further supply train would arrive at Southampton every 12 minutes during a 14-hour day – and by the end of the month, trains had transported 118,454 army personnel, 37,649 horses, 314 guns and numerous vehicles and other luggage.
Although vital to the war effort, railway workers in their thousands enlisted to fight, and women stepped into many of their roles on the Home Front. With the exception of train driving and shovelling coal into the fires of steam engines, women went on to perform most railway tasks.
It is estimated that the railway lost 20,000 men, and many main line stations in Britain have a memorial to their sacrifice, listing the names of those who worked on the railway, but never returned to their jobs when peace returned in 1918. Many Army Reserve servicemen and women today work on Britain's railways, finding skills and talents from both careers enhance each other as they continue to serve their country in different but vital ways.