For the Fallen
Karen Boswell Managing Director East Coast Main Line Company Limited
While historians have long debated the importance of railways in the lead-up to the outbreak of World War One, there is little doubt that they played a major role in Britain’s war effort between 1914-1918. They helped Britain to mobilise and, for more than four years, to transport men and machinery, food, horses, vehicles and raw materials across the UK. The scale of this operation and its importance is put into perspective when you consider that no fewer than 700,000 people worked on Britain’s railways 100 years ago - and that 20,000 of those workers died after volunteering to serve in the Great War. At mainline stations across the UK today you can see many memorials to those workers who made the ultimate sacrifice. The rail industry is rightly marking the centenary of the war. It is fitting that it pays tribute to those who died in the war as well as those who kept the railways running, including the many women who went on to perform tasks previously the preserve of men. East Coast decided to name locomotive 91111 ‘For the Fallen’ as its individual contribution to this tribute. This follows the introduction of our popular policy of train namings in 2011 to promote the people and places, the communities, history and heritage on our flagship route. In 2014 we enlisted the help of five iconic regiments from key locations to commemorate the sacrifices which their forebears made and to tell some of their stories as part of a specially commissioned train wrap for the newly named loco 91111 ‘For the Fallen’. As this unique train undertakes its daily journeys up and down the East Coast Main Line in the coming weeks and months, it becomes a poignant symbol of commemoration by our railway industry for all those who did not return from the Great War, and for those who kept the railways moving in wartime. We’re especially grateful to the five regiments who’ve helped us to understand so much more about the brave men and women to whom we owe so much. Lest we forget. 3
WITHIN EIGHT WEEKS OF WAR BEING DECLARED
HAD VOLUNTEERED FOR KITCHENER’S NEW ARMY.
Royal Scots on Church Parade, 1914.
On 5th August 1914 - the day that he took over as Minister for War - Field Marshal Earl Kitchener of Khartoum issued orders for the expansion of the army. He did not believe that the war would be over by Christmas as the popular press in both Great Britain and Germany had stated, but that this would be a long and costly conflict. Kitchener immediately sought to increase the army by half a million men. At that time Britain did not, and had never, conscripted men into the military and so he embarked on the first of five appeals for 100,000 men to volunteer. Although his face famously appeared in September 1914 on Alfred Leeteâ€™s poster encouraging men to enlist, the impact and use of the poster outside of London is unclear. In the first few weeks men rushed to recruiting offices in Britain and Ireland with some queues reported to be a mile long. By the end of August, 298,923 had signed up and as the momentum increased, a staggering 462,901 men volunteered in September. Kitchener had his 500,000 and more. 5
From the very start of the war, contact between the soldiers at the front and loved ones at home was recognised as being key to morale. With typical military efficiency a system was established that became so slick it would see letters taking just two days to reach the front. Covering several acres a gigantic facility was established at Regent’s Park with 2,500 staff employed at its height. The aim was for letters to be given to soldiers with their evening meal. It is reported that no matter how tired or hungry they were, the letters were always read before they ate. At its peak, 12.5 million letters destined for the front were being processed every week. The unopened letters to the fallen were also sent back to their families but not without ensuring that any official telegram regarding the fate of a loved one had already been received. It is estimated 30,000 letters went unopened everyday. Letters from the front were just as important for those at home, and today they are poignant and treasured reminders of loved ones who were lost. On one side of our locomotive are some of the Christmas cards that Christopher Douglas Elphick, known as Douglas, sent to his new wife and their new born son. Christopher Elphick was a member of the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) and had enlisted in November 1915 just five months after getting married. In August 1916 his son Ronald was born and he was able to have one home visit before he left for France, one year after volunteering.
On 15 May 1917 he was reported missing during the Battle of Bullecourt, a battle which would claim the lives of many members of the HAC. His body remained undiscovered for nearly 100 years where it fell until it was found in a farmer’s field in 2009 along with three other bodies. His remains, and those of Lieutenant John Pritchard, were identified and buried with full military honours at the HAC cemetery at Ecoust-St Mein on 23 April 2013. The two other soldiers found with them were also buried that day as ‘HAC soldiers known unto God’. Work continues to identify them.
LETTERS WERE SENT EVERY WEEK TO SOLDIERS AT THE FRONT
Douglas Elliott Brock Killed at BĂŠthune, 21 March 1918, aged 19.
1914 The Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) is known as the oldest regiment of the British Army and dates back to the time of Henry VIII. As well as taking part in some of the major battles on the Western Front, the HAC saw action in Italy, Egypt, Jordan and Palestine. In all about 13,000 members took part in the Great War, with around 4,000 commissioned into other regiments. Nearly 1,600 were killed or died of their wounds or sickness.
2014 Next to the letters of Christopher Elphick is another soldier of the HAC, Douglas Elliott Brock. The son of a missionary, Douglas was born and grew up in China but a desire to serve his country saw him travel to England at the young age of 17. Too young to enlist, he took a job at the London branch of the Bank of Montreal. Shortly after this 18th birthday, on 6 March 1917, he enlisted with the HAC and in October that year he was sent to France to join its 2/A Battery as a Driver of a horse-drawn gun carriage. In the spring of 1918, the Germans launched a new offensive on the Somme. Douglas was stationed behind the front line near the town of BĂŠthune. During heavy shelling on 21 March 1918 he was killed aged 19 and is buried in Chocques Military Cemetery.
Based at the Finsbury Barracks in the City of London, today the HAC is a unit of the Army Reserve supporting its regular army counterpart 4/73 Battery of the 5th Regiment Royal Artillery. Over 250 personnel have been deployed to overseas operations in Iraq and Afganistan. In December 2007 Trooper Jack Sadler became the first HAC soldier to be killed on active service since 1945. 7
As regular soldiers, the Royal Dragoon Guards were among the first to be sent to France and were involved in the very first action on the Western Front. At around 06:30 on 22 August 1914 near the village of Casteau, northeast of Mons, in Belgium, men from C Squadron were informed that four German cavalrymen had been seen. Captain Hornby’s 1st Troop were given permission to pursue them and upon encountering the Germans on the main road in Casteau, drew swords and charged. It was here that Corporal Edward Thomas fired the very first shot of the war by a British soldier taking a German Officer from his horse.
One of the cavalrymen to charge that day was Benjamin Clouting who was just 16-years-old, having joined in August 1913. Officially too young to serve abroad, he begged his commanding officer to turn a blind eye and two weeks later he saw action. Shortly after Hornby’s charge, Ben was in action again at the first Battle of Ypres in October 1914 and again at Ypres in May 1915 where he comforted a close pal as he died in his arms. Having been gassed he was sent home to recover but by 1916 he was back fighting on the Somme. He was again injured in 1917 but remained at the front where he served at Arras and at the third Battle of Ypres. Ben survived the war and is one of the few who could claim he fought in every calendar year of the war on the Western Front from the first to the last day. Benjamin Clouting died in 1990.
AND ACTION OF THE WAR WAS A HORSE BACK CAVALRY CHARGE Captain Hornby’s sword, held at the York Army Museum. Captain Hornby Led the first action of the war on 22 August 1914
On 11 November 1918, Armistice Day, the Royal Dragoon Guards were ordered to take the strategically important crossing over the River Dendre at Lessines, some 15 miles from where Captain Hornby led the first charge. If the Armistice had failed, this crossing would have been vital to continue the war. They rode for over ten miles to reach their objective, and taking no casualties, they captured four German officers and 167 men, securing the crossing at 10:55 just five minutes before hostilities ceased.
1914 The Royal Dragoon Guards can trace its roots back to the 1600s when James II and William of Orange were contesting the English throne. Lieutenant Colonel Baden-Powell, a Commanding Officer of the 5th Dragoon Guards, later used his experiences to form the famous Boy Scout movement. A regular army cavalry regiment, they spent most of the Great War in a dismounted role due to the nature of the battles and conditions on the Western Front.
2014 The regiment as it is today was formed by the amalgamation of 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards and the 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards and is now based in Catterick, North Yorkshire. In 1938 they swapped their horses for tanks and became mechanised. Today they operate as an Armoured Cavalry Regiment equipped with the Scimitar, although this will be replaced by the Scout Surveillance Vehicle when it enters service. 9
OF BRITAIN’S RAILWAY WORKERS WHO VOLUNTEERED NEVER RETURNED
The railways played a major part in Britainâ€™s war effort and were key to moving troops and equipment around the country. One hundred years ago, 700,000 people worked on the railway, and it was one of the largest employers in the country. As soon as war was declared on 4 August 1914, the railway helped Britainâ€™s forces mobilise. Transporting men and machinery from around the country to Southampton was a priority and on the 10th August the first train departed London Waterloo for Southampton. Over the next three weeks a train would arrive at Southampton every 12 minutes during a 14 hour day. 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 went to fight and women stepped into many of their roles. In fact with the exception of train driving and shovelling coal into the fires of engines, women went on to perform most tasks on the railways. It is estimated that the railways lost 20,000 men during the war and in many main line stations youâ€™ll find a memorial to their sacrifice. The North Eastern Railway erected this memorial in York, and in common with memorials around the country it lists the names of those who worked for the company but never returned to their jobs. 11
Spurred on by Kitchener’s call for a new army, civic and business leaders across the country contemplated raising a battalion from their community. Initially turned down by the War Office, three local businessmen, Trevor Ternan, Joseph Reed and Sir Thomas Oliver with the support of the Lord Mayor began to recruit. With no funding from the War Office they used their own money, £100,000 (equivalent to over £10m today), to fund the battalion. The raising of Tyneside Scottish was authorised by the War Office on 9 October 1914 following Lord Haldane’s visit to Newcastle. Two weeks later the 1st Battalion Tyneside Scottish was complete with 1,150 men enlisted. But the volunteers kept arriving and a second battalion was authorised. By 5th November 1914 it had 1,158 men. A third and fourth battalion was authorised and by 17th November 1914 they numbered 1,169 and 1,920 respectively. These were Pals battalions where friends and work colleagues signed up to fight together. In a little over a month nearly 5,500 men had joined what had become known collectively as the 102nd Tyneside Scottish Brigade. In January 1916 the Brigade was despatched to France. On the 1 July 1916 at 07:30 the Tyneside Scottish took part in their first major engagement of the war, the Battle of the Somme. Two large mines were detonated either side of La Boisselle to start the attack and as the smoke cleared the Pipers of the four Tyneside Scottish battalions piped the men over the top. The first day of the Battle of the Somme, the most disastrous for the British Army, saw the Tyneside Scottish brigade suffer the worst losses of any brigade, with the Tyneside Irish suffering the second worst losses. In all some 1,010 officers and men were lost on the first day including all four battalion commanders with 1,600 being injured. Piper George Griffiths from the 2nd Battalion wrote of the first day of the Somme: “At the given signal we jumped from our trenches and struck up our pipes. It was like all hell let loose, I got so far and then got caught on some barbed wire. After I got entangled I had to abandon my pipes and take up my rifle. Fellow piper Willie Scott, a shipyard worker from Elswick in Newcastle, was still ahead of me, playing. When I reached the German trenches and jumped in, the first man I saw was Willie - dead, but still holding his pipes. If ever a man deserved the VC Willie did”. 12
BY THE END OF 1915
2.5 MILLION MEN HAD VOLUNTEERED
1914 Formed as a Pals Battalion as part of Kitchenerâ€™s new army, the four Tyneside Scottish battalions came under the Northumberland Fusiliers (the 20th, 21st, 22nd and 23rd battalions). In total it is estimated that 2,286 were killed during the four years, the majority at the Somme. Towards the end of the war the 1st and 2nd Battalion were disbanded with the 3rd and 4th transferred to other units of the regiment.
2014 Top: Brigadier General Trevor Ternan, C.B, C.M.G, D.S.O. Left: Colonel Sir Thomas Oliver Right: Colonel Joseph Reed
Today the Tyneside Scottish title is an honourary title maintained by the 204 (Tyneside Scottish) Battery, 101 (Northumbrian) Regiment, Royal Artillery. Over the years the title has been borne within various regiments including the Durham Light Infantry and The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) which held it during WW2. As part of the Royal Artillery it acts as a precision fires unit. 13
LETTER SENT FROM THE FRONT WAS CENSORED
While recognising the importance of letters both at home and at the front, the British Army was concerned about what they may contain, such as information which may be deemed useful to the enemy or details of the horrific conditions which could affect morale at home. The Field Service Postcard gave soldiers a number of prewritten statements. These could be deleted as necessary and they were not allowed to write anything on it except their name and the date. Soldiers were warned “If anything else is added the postcard will be destroyed’, and these provided a quick way for soldiers to say ‘I’m quite well’ and that a letter will follow shortly. Sadly all too often that letter would never be written. This field message card is the last one sent by Lance Corporal James Boyd, before he was killed at the Battle of the Somme, a professional footballer with Heart of Midlothian and part of the famous 16th Battalion The Royal Scots, McCrae’s Battalion. Sir George McCrae was a self made businessman and prominent political figure in Edinburgh having been a member of the city’s council, a Justice of the Peace and an MP in Westminster where he represented East Edinburgh. He was also a Lieutenant Colonel in the Territorial Force having joined as a private at the age of 18. The outbreak of war coincided with the start of the Scottish football season and there was much condemnation of games taking place while the country was in conflict. A campaign for football’s abandonment was at first rejected but in mid-November the War Office changed its position, stating that professional footballers should seek employment in His Majesty’s forces rather than in their old occupation. Enter Sir George McCrae.
James Boyd Killed at the Somme on 3 August 1916, aged 21.
Sir George McCrae on his way to the recruiting office. With the increasing number of dead and wounded on the Western Front, Sir George offered to raise a battalion on the condition he was allowed to lead it in the field. As a Director of Hearts he realised that if he could get players to join his battalion then supporters would join to serve with their footballing heroes. He called a recruitment meeting at the Usher Hall for Friday 27th November 1914 where he made a rousing speech, ‘I would not, I could not, ask you to serve unless I share the danger at your side. In a moment I will walk down to Castle Street and set my name to the list of volunteers, who will join me?’ He was 54. By midnight 300 had followed him to the recruiting office to enlist. In a matter of weeks the numbers had increased to 1,350 including 30 professional footballers, James Boyd was among them.
1914 While Sir George McCrae raised his battalion in 1914, The Royal Scots date back to King Charles I when Sir John Hepburn raised 1,200 men to fight in France. The Great War saw the number of battalions increase to 35, 15 of them serving at the front line. More than 100,000 men passed through these, 11,162 being killed and over 40,000 injured. Along with the Western Front, The Royal Scots saw action in Egypt, Macedonia, Palestine and Russia.
2014 Like most battalions, the 16th were to pay a heavy price on 1 July 1916 at the Somme. ‘McCrae’s Own’, as they were known, were the only battalion to reach its objective during the battle. Over the course of the next few weeks five of the Hearts players would be killed and the other five wounded. James Boyd was the last Hearts player of McCrae’s battalion to be killed; already injured he was moved to a field hospital which was hit by artillery fire. He was never found and is now one of the 72,195 names listed on the Thiepval Memorial who have no known grave.
Founded in 2006 on the unparalleled fighting heritage of 14 historic Scottish Infantry Regiments, including The Royal Scots, today’s Royal Regiment of Scotland is the modern embodiment of feared Scottish combat infantry units. Since its formation, it has been on near constant operational deployments with three battalion tours in Iraq and 11 battalion tours in Afghanistan. Its Pipes & Drums are world renowned. 15
It comes as no surprise that the military’s highest award for valour, the Victoria Cross, was awarded more in the Great War than in any other conflict. This reflects the incredible bravery and sacrifice shown by men who years, or even months, earlier had been miners, railway workers, footballers or, in the case of Jack Cornwell aged 16, the youngest recipient of the Victoria Cross, a delivery boy. Second Lieutenant Donald Simpson Bell, like James Boyd, was a professional footballer; in fact he was the first professional footballer to enlist, volunteering in August 1914. Initially training as a teacher at Westminster College, he played as an amateur for Crystal Palace and Newcastle United before deciding to turn professional in order to supplement his income. He joined Bradford Park Avenue and made his debut as a right back against Wolverhampton Wanderers on 13 April 1913. Known for his amazing turn of speed, he made five more appearances for the club before war broke out. Having already enlisted he joined the West Yorkshire Regiment in November 1914 and was released from his professional playing contract.
machine gun. Donald Bell was killed five days later carrying out a similar attack, one month after he was married. An old school friend Captain Archie White VC, wrote: “Probably no one else on the Front could have done what he did. Laden with steel helmet, haversack, revolver, ammunition and Mills bombs in pouches, he was yet able to hurl himself at the German trench at such speed that the enemy would hardly believe what they saw…”
Donald Bell VC Killed at the Somme, 10 July 1916.
His medal was purchased by the Professional Footballers’ Association in 2010 and is now on display at the National Football Museum in Manchester.
His athletic build and speed were put to good use in the war and he was selected for the dangerous role of leading bombing teams. He was awarded the VC when on 5 July 1916 to the southwest of Contalmaison, he was in charge of a small group of bombers who were ordered to capture an enemy position. Along with Corporal Colwill and Private Batey they rushed across open ground under heavy fire and destroyed the enemy
VICTORIA WERE AWARDED IN THE GREAT WAR CROSSES THAN ANY OTHER CONFLICT 16
1914 Dating back to the wars of Austrian Succession in the 1700s, the regiment was known as the Green Howards, but its official name at the start of the war was Alexandra, The Princess of Wales’s Own Yorkshire Regiment. During the war the regiment raised 24 battalions, recruiting 65,000 men. It is estimated 9,000 were killed with 24,000 wounded during the four years.
2014 This iconic image of soldiers marching to battle was taken by one of the official war photographers, Ernest Brooks. It depicts the 8th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment at evening tide during the Battle of Broodseinde on 4 October 1917 near Ypres. Granted the title of Second Lieutenant, he travelled freely along the Western lines and took several thousand varied photographs, but he is probably best known for his silhouette images.
The modern day Yorkshire Regiment was formed in 2006 bringing together the Prince of Wales’s Own Regiment of Yorkshire, the Green Howards and the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment. Very much an infantry Regiment, it consists of two Regular battalions, based in Wiltshire and Cyprus, and an Army Reserve battalion based in Yorkshire. The 2nd Battalion, based in Cyprus, is at a continual high state of readiness, ready to move at 48 hours’ notice to anywhere in the region. 17
The idea of the Unknown Warrior was first conceived in 1916 by the Reverend David Railton who, while serving as an army chaplain on the Western Front, had seen a grave marked by a rough cross, which bore the pencil-written legend ‘An Unknown British Soldier’. Aware that thousands of families would not have their own place of mourning, he wrote to the Dean of Westminster in 1920 proposing that an unidentified British soldier from the battlefields in France be buried with due ceremony in Westminster Abbey “amongst the Kings” to represent the many hundreds of thousands of Empire dead. The idea was strongly supported by the Dean and the then Prime Minister David Lloyd George who won over an initially reluctant King George V. The unidentifiable remains of soldiers were exhumed from the principal battlefields of the Aisne, Marne, Cambrai, Somme, Arras and Ypres and taken to the chapel at St Pol near Arras on 7 November 1920 and a guard placed at the door. At the stroke of midnight Brigadier General L.J.Wyatt and Lieutenant Colonel E.A.S. Gell went in the chapel alone. Without knowing which battlefields they had come from, General Wyatt is reported to have closed his eyes and rested his hand on one of the bodies. This body was then placed into a plain coffin and sealed while the other remains were taken away for reburial. The next day the coffin was placed in a casket made of oak timbers from trees at Hampton Court Palace and a medieval sword chosen by the King from the Royal Collection, was mounted to the top; along with an iron shield bearing the inscription ‘A British Warrior who fell in the Great War 1914-1918 for King and Country’. To the sound of Aux Champs (the French ‘Last Post’) and the tolling of every church bell in Boulogne, the procession down to the harbour was led by one thousand school children. The destroyer HMS Verdun and an escort of six battleships crossed the Channel to be received by a 19-gun salute at Dover, and from here the casket was carried to London by train arriving on platform 8 at Victoria Station at 8.32pm on 10 November. 18
SOLDIERS STILL HAVE NO KNOWN GRAVE
On 11 November 1920 with honours normally only bestowed on Kings and Queens the soldier was buried at Westminster Abbey in the presence of the King, the Royal Family and ministers of state. In 1923 when the Queen Mother married King George VI she placed her bouquet at the tomb, a tradition which has continued for Royal weddings since. 19
East Coast Main Line Company Limited would like to thank: the Honourable Artillery Company; the Royal Regiment of Scotland; The Royal Scots; Jack Alexander; McCraeâ€™s Battalion Trust; 204 (Tyneside Scottish) Battery Royal Artillery; the Royal Dragoon Guards and the Yorkshire Regiment for their assistance. Front and back cover photo: Ernest Brooks, courtesy of the National Library of Scotland. Inside front cover: The mud and misery of Passchendaele. Page 5: Picture courtesy of The Royal Scots. Pages 6-7: Pictures courtesy of Chris Elphick, the Honourable Artillery Company and Jackie Pringle. Page 12-13: Pictures courtesy of Tyneside Scottish. Page 14-15: Pictures courtesy of Jack Alexander and The Royal Scots. Page 16-17: Ernest Brooks picture courtesy of the National Library of Scotland.
Researched, written and designed by Paul Gentleman and Caroline Black. Paul R Gentleman Associates Ltd.
The story of For the Fallen, East Coast loco 91111.