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EAST MIDLANDS TRAINS TICKET OFFICER UNVEILS TRIBUTE TO ‘SHEFFIELD CITY BATTALION’
Representatives from the Royal British Legion joined well-known poppy seller and ticket officer, Ron Wiltshire, and other representatives from East Midlands Trains today (11 November 2014) to unveil a tribute to the 'Sheffield City Battalion' at Sheffield railway station.
East Midlands Train employee Ron Wiltshire has been a long standing fundraiser for the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal. This year so far he has raised over £43,000 for the charity by selling special commemorative 1914-2014 metal poppy badges to mark the centenary of the Great War on trains and stations across the East Midlands Trains route.
The Sheffield City Battalion was a ‘Pals Battalion’ which was formed at the outbreak of war and was assigned to defend the Suez Canal in Egypt. The threat was curbed and they were reassigned to France. On 10 March 1916, the Battalion took over a stretch of the front line opposite the fortified hill-top village of Serre. On 1 July 1916, the Battalion were ordered to capture the village, which was heavily guarded by German forces. This date marks the beginning of the Battle of the Somme. In the three days that the battalion were at the front, they suffered the loss of 513 officers and men that had either been killed, wounded or were missing, with a further 75 men slightly wounded. After this, the battalion was moved off the line. Although the battalion regained its strength, it is said that the ‘Pals’ feeling was never regained.
David Horne, Managing Director of East Midlands Trains, said: “We wanted to do something to recognise the significant role of the Sheffield City Battalion and the centenary of the Great War. Many of our own employees and our customers will have had relatives who lost their lives in World War One and the centenary of Great War will mark a poignant moment for many. The poppy is synonymous with remembrance and the First World War and it is a great way to show our support for the armed services.”
Ron Wiltshire, who works as a ticket officer at Chesterfield station, said he felt very proud to have helped to unveil the Sheffield City Battalion nameplate.
This is part of a wider initiative by East Midlands Trains to commemorate the centenary of the First World War. Complimentary 'trench cake', inspired by a war-time recipe, has been given out to customers on trains and at stations over the past week. On Friday 14 November, a special live musical performance will take place at Lincoln station with music from the First World War. Other plans include events and displays at stations celebrating the role of women during the war and an East Midlands at War display.