Western Daily Press - - Front Page - ALEX ROSS alex.ross@reach­

THEY were sim­ple engine clean­ers, rail mo­tor con­duc­tors and wagon painters – but they all went on to be­come he­roes in the fight for free­dom.

More than 2,500 Great Western Rail­way work­ers who died dur­ing the Great War are be­ing hon­oured with a train un­veil­ing to­day.

The In­ter­city Ex­press train, which will roll into Lon­don Padding­ton at 10.30am, will serve the Great Western main line.

It is be­ing named af­ter Flight Sub-Lieu­tenant Harold Day, the only rail­way man to be­come a fly­ing ace, and Lance-Cor­po­ral Allan Leonard Lewis, awarded the Vic­to­ria Cross for brav­ery in Ross­noy, France.

But it will also fea­ture the names of all work­ers who died dur­ing the con­flict, in­clud­ing Lance-Sergeant Ernest Rudd and Pri­vate Edgar Ge­orge Nor­ton, both killed dur­ing the Bat­tle of the Somme, Sergeant Wil­liam Henry Han­naford and Pri­vate Harry Charles Western, killed at the Bat­tle of Ar­ras.

Lance-Sgt Rudd worked as a goods clerk in Southall be­fore serv­ing in the 1/8th Mid­dle­sex Reg­i­ment.

He was awarded the Mil­i­tary Medal for car­ry­ing a bad­ly­wounded man back to the trench. He was killed in ac­tion, aged 24, on the first day of the Bat­tle of the Somme.

Great niece Claire Rudd, from Som­er­set, said: “Dis­cov­er­ing he was killed on the first day of the blood­i­est bat­tle of the war has been dif­fi­cult to com­pre­hend. Read­ing his ci­ta­tion is in­cred­i­bly mov­ing, hear­ing of his brav­ery.”

Pte Nor­ton worked in Swin­don, as a wagon pain­ter.

He was among 456 men in the 2nd Bat­tal­ion Cold­stream Guards killed in a Ger­man counter-at­tack on the Somme, on Septem­ber 16, 1916.

His great niece Jean Moul­ton said: “I have al­ways been so very proud of Great Un­cle Edgar. This is in­cred­i­bly mov­ing for me, to now know that his name and pic­ture is be­ing car­ried on a train which will go right past the place he worked.”

Sgt Han­naford was rail mo­tor con­duc­tor in Ply­mouth be­fore join­ing up with the 10th Royal War­wick­shire Reg­i­ment. He died on April 10, 1918.

His great niece San­dra Gittins said: “Find­ing out about him was the in­spi­ra­tion to re­search the GWR fur­ther. The role of the GWR in the build-up to World War I, what it achieved as a com­pany, and what its em­ploy­ees achieved for this coun­try is truly stag­ger­ing.”

Pte Western was an engine cleaner in Ex­eter be­fore join­ing the 8th Devon­shire Reg­i­ment. He died on April 2, 1917, aged 21, dur­ing the Bat­tle of Ar­ras.

Great niece Jane Brook said: “I re­mem­ber clearly the day when I found my great un­cle’s name on the GWR Roll of Hon­our at the very place I now work. To have a train with his name on is amaz­ing, I know he would be proud to see how the com­pany is recog­nis­ing him and the other fallen.”

Flight Sub-Lt Day was a premium ap­pren­tice at the Swin­don Works.

From December 1917 to his death in Feb­ru­ary 1918, he ce­mented his sta­tus as an “ace”, se­cur­ing more than 10 vic­to­ries and was awarded the Dis­tin­guished Ser­vice Cross.

And L/Cpl Lewis VS was a con­duc­tor on GWR buses in Wales. He was awarded the Vic­to­ria Cross for taking out two gun po­si­tions that were fir­ing on his fel­low ser­vice­men.

The nine-car­riage train will fea­ture a roll of hon­our show­ing the names of those fallen work­ers. There will also be more in­for­ma­tion on­board, with pic­tures and back­ground sto­ries. This Sun­day marks 100 years since the end of the First World War.

The role of the GWR in the build-up to World War I and what its em­ploy­ees achieved is truly stag­ger­ing


Clock­wise from top left: Pri­vate Edgar Ge­orge Nor­ton; Lance-Cor­po­ral Allan Leonard Lewis; LanceSergeant Ernest Rudd; Sergeant Wil­liam Henry Han­naford; Pri­vate Harry Charles Western; Flight SubLieu­tenant Harold Day

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