Author chronicles role of railway heroes

An army reservist and rail worker from Daventry has written a book detailing the sacrifices made by thousands of railway staff who lost their lives in the Great War.

Jeremy Higgins, 50, has written the Great War Railwaymen.

The proceeds from the book will go to The Railway Benefit Fund and The Army Benevolent Fund – The Soldiers’ Charity, to help those who have served our country in more recent generations. He said: “My aim with the book is to try to remember these people who served and died during the war, and to tell their stories to a new generation.

“The Great War Railwaymen is vital to our understanding of the railways, and those that ran them, and the significant role they played.

“I also wanted to raise money for two wonderful causes which are very close to my heart.”

Six months after returning from active duty in Iraq in 2007, Jeremy was standing on a platform in Leamington Spa waiting for a train to Birmingham when he felt compelled to do something to honour the railway heroes of WW1.

After glancing over at the GWR memorial, wondering about the men behind the names, he decided to start researching them.

Over the past seven years, he has devoted all his spare time to researching the exploits of 12,500 railway forebears, which can now be read by others in his compelling debut.

Among the many stories is the example of Sergeant HB Parkin, a York-based clerk with the North Eastern Railway who served with the West Yorkshire Regiment. Parkin was awarded a posthumous Distinguished Conduct Medal for courageously fighting off a German attack single-handedly.

Mr Higgins added: “It has taken me seven years to research 12,500 of the 20,000-plus railwaymen who died in the Great War. I think their stories are just fascinating and hope others will too.”

The book was published last Monday and has a recommended retail price of £25.

The foreword to the novel has been written by former Conservative MP and railway enthusiast Michael Portillo. It is available from all good bookshops.