A MEMORIAL to railway workers who forsook their rights of a reserved occupation to give their lives in the First World War has been dedicated at Brockenhurst railway station.
With it comes a public appeal to identify these fallen so that they can be named on a permanent memorial to be unveiled next summer.
The project has been launched with a memorial service conducted by Brockenhurst vicar the Rev. Francis Cumberlege when The Last Post was played by trumpeter Paul Douglas from the Lymington Town Band.
The Isle of Wight and Lymington Brockenhurst Community Rail Partnership (CRP) secured funding for the memorial garden on platform 1 at the station, with the garden created by parish councillor John Wingham and voluntary effort by station staff.
The wooden memorial lettering was made by Shane Randall from charity Aspire Ryde.
CRP rail development officer Bobby Lock-Dean said: “Even though the railway was a reserved occupation, the CRP knows that there were volunteers from the outbreak of the Great War, joining the Hampshire Battalion
“The CRP are keen, with Lymington Community Kids from Lymington Juniors, to set up projects at their stations, to find out about the mostly men, and women, who gave their lives and remember them yearly.”
She added: “We are asking for local knowledge from surviving family members who know of a great uncle or grandfather who gave up their jobs on the railway, as a stoker, clerk, or driver, or working in first class or second class, to serve their country when they could have stayed and escaped one of the worst ever conflicts.
“We are not just looking at the Lymington to Brockenhurst line, but Sway and right across the Forest, at a time when the railways were much more labour intensive.”
Phil Curtis and Bernard Wood in battledress uniform – representing the Isle of Wight Rifles and the Hampshire Battalion respectively – flanked the Rev Francis as he gave his moving address.
At the end of the service, the children put in their Royal British Legion crosses in front of the memorial.
The CRP is keen to hear from anyone who can help collate information that the Community Kids can research and perhaps meet family members.
The plan is to have the soldiers’ names forever on a plaque at the station, the last place in the New Forest these soldiers trod before departing to their regiments – most never to return.
The garden will be taken up in a couple of weeks and replaced for every Armistice Day, but the plaque, to be unveiled in June, will be permanent.
A similar memorial is being placed at Ryde pierhead, and a public appeal on the Isle of Wight has already produced the names of 10 fallen railway staff.