100 veterans line Platform 8 at King’s Cross station to remember 20,000 rail workers killed in WW1
- Credit: Polly Hancock
London’s busiest railway station paused to commemorate the thousands who gave their lives in World War One as a centenary act of remembrance took place at King’s Cross station this morning.
One hundred serving and retired forces personnel gathered with railway staff and rush-hour commuters on Platform 8 to greet a specially adapted East Coast locomotive named For the Fallen.
The train’s first carriage carried a livery filled with tributes and images to the regiments and people who served along the railway line between London and Edinburgh.
Laurence Binyon’s 1914 poem For the Fallen was the inspiration behind the locomotive and a reading of the memorable poem made up part of the ceremony.
The ceremony took place in the presence of former defence secretary and presenter of BBC television series Great British Railway Journeys, Michael Portillo, as those arriving for work in the capital stopped to witness the moment of remembrance.
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He said: “Railway workers volunteered with enthusiasm to serve their country and many died in the cause.
“The railways played a vital role in the war; so I am pleased that at the centenary the contribution of men and machines is
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being recognised and remembered.”
Secretary of state for transport, Patrick McLoughlin MP, also addressed the memorial.
He said: “Today’s ceremony and the For the Fallen locomotive are a moving reminder of the sacrifices made by our forefathers in the Great War and in wars since.
“It is important that we remember their sacrifice, and that we never forget the lessons of the past. I am honoured to have been able to commemorate their work today.”
The event follows the introduction of East Coast’s policy of naming trains after the people, places and communities on its flagship route.
Members of the armed forces lined the platform throughout the service and carried out the lowering of the flags as the Last Post was played.
More than 700,000 people worked on the railways in Britain 100 years ago and around 20,000 of them died after volunteering to serve their country during World War One.