On the morning of 9 August 1915, the 216th Fortress Company, Royal Engineers, marched from the Nuneaton drill hall to Trent Valley railway station. The troops were accompanied by the mayor and other local dignitaries, ‘cheering crowds, and the strains of “Auld Lang Syne” played by the Borough band’.1 The men boarded a train provided by the London and North-Western Railway and, like the majority of their colleagues in the multitude of units despatched across the globe in service of the British armed forces during the First World War, commenced their war experience at the end of a railway journey. Throughout the conflict, railway stations across Britain provided the locations for the transition between civil and military life. These ‘gates of goodbye’ acquired a tone of sobriety as the war progressed. They bore witness to the separations of families as the railways conveyed soldiers from the comforts of home leave to the horrors of the front; provided many of those on the home front with their first glimpse of the wounded, or of displaced Belgians who had found their way across the English Channel – frequently upon steamers owned and operated by British railway companies; and delivered the troops into the post-war world upon demobilisation.
|Title of host publication
|The British Home Front and the First World War
|Place of Publication
|Cambridge University Press
|Published - 30 Jun 2022