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Railway employees who died in World War One


New Zealand
I apologise if this has already been posted (couldn't find it in a search).

A couple of sites that I have recently found useful in searching for GWR (Great Western Railway) employees who died in WW1. The info has been useful to cross reference ... as the previous source I had, which was a roll of honour carving, had some inaccuracies.

First is:

National Railway Museum - Railway Stories

This page has a link to a PDF file (and also an XLS file) which lists over 20,000 railway employees (not just from GWR). This can sometimes give more information (than say Find A Grave) regarding their occupation and occasionally even how long they worked for the railway company in question; plus quite a few of them have photos (flickr). There are some other links on this page too which might be useful.

Second is:

Carl's Cam: Chester Railway Station - War Memorial

This page transcribes a memorial to GWR railway workers, which was a great find as the previous memorial I had only documented the workers from one shop and, like I said, appeared to have some errors (makes you wonder whether it was carved in a hurry; also as a couple of names look like they may have been 'tacked on' hurriedly later).

Hopefully this info will be useful to someone else too.
Thanks...very interesting.

Most of the library's in Swindon have a comprehensive list of Swindon's war dead from both world wars.

To us Swindonians it was a miracle that the town didn't suffer the same fate as other places like Bristol,Coventry etc.....the railworks were massive and some reports suggest that Hitler was so confident of the invasion of Britain he wanted to leave the works intact for German use!:mad:

As it happens not a single bomb hit the works and Swindon suffered just a few hits on residential houses.

I note Walter Shakespeare is on your list....he is bottom right on the link below.


Sadly i believe the poor man was never found...so i dont think he has a gravestone but as you know is remembered on the Menin Gate memorial:(


Have you an address for Walter?...if he lived in the railway village in Swindon(probably did) then the link below will give you an insight.


I was in the Glue Pot last week....and it is exactly how it was in Walter's day....minus the sawdust!

All the best.
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Hi Lee

Thanks for the info.

Yes that was the photo (from the GWR Magazine on flickr) that I mentioned in my intro post. I couldn't believe it when I found it because I had been researching Walter a while and was starting to hit lots of brick walls, and pretty much despairing of finding anything much more ... then to find a photo (especially as the family resemblance was so clear) was just amazing. I also had a go at colourising it, although had to guess at eye/hair colour. He was listed as MIA, after the assault on Spanbroek Mollen in March 1915, then declared killed about 18 months later; which must have been pretty awful for the family to not know.

I actually managed to find/download his medal index card recently on the National Archives site; which had a bit more info on it than I previously had. Although his service record appears to be one of the 'lost'.

I don't know if he lived in the Railway Village.

His parents: Harry and Maria Shakespeare were at 11 Morris Street at the time, so he might have been living there when he enlisted. I had a look at this on Street View a while ago and it is a normal terraced house which has had exterior improvement. The Railway Village houses in your link have had the exterior preserved, and are quite distinctive, so I don't think Morris Street was a part of that. Or maybe they didn't preserve/list all of the houses built at that time, not sure. Another address for the family was 14 Mill Street, just had a search for that and found a page on localhistories.org which mentions that the street was built in the 1870s for railway workers. But cannot find it on Street View, so maybe it was renamed? I found Haydon Street which was built around the same time, so possibly Mill Street was nearby.

Thanks for the link to the Railway Village, that was interesting reading.
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Morris Street is as you say not in the Railway village.....and Mill Street is a new one to me.

Back to Walter he must have been a good soldier getting to be a Corporal in little over a year....Many old pubs in the town are/were named after the works..The Rolling Mills,the Glue pot...Locomotive etc.

Your relly would have been woken up every morning by the works hooter...or hootie that blasted so loud it could be heard for miles around as a warning as not to be late.

Walter possibly may have known one of my hero's...Alfred Williams better known as the Hammerman Poet....and incredibly learned man who died young probably of malnutrition:(

Some links below....will give you a great idea of what kind of place Walter worked at....before meeting his tragic end.


The link below allows you to read his most famous book online....a brilliant insight not only into his factory life but also on how the railway impacted on local men in the surrounding villages of Swindon also.
Incidently he would walk the five miles there and back everyday day before and after work:eek:


Glad you found a photo of Walter...and apologies if i digressed!
Thanks Lee for your reply and the links.

I did a quick search and it looks like Mill Street was the western part of Manchester Road, so yes pretty close to Haydon Street, but again it doesn't look like part of the Village.

I found out that Walter was a Lance Corporal, then Acting Corporal ... then in his memoriam was a Corporal. His 'qualifying date' for the campaign medal for that year was 4th Jan 1915. So presumably that was when he left for France. I noted that the 1st Wiltshires received reinforcements on 16th January, so that might be when he arrived at the front. I don't know when he enlisted, but going by his regimental number, was probably around Sept-Nov 1914. So yes I guess that might be a pretty fast rise up the ranks; although in wartime that probably happened a lot. I hadn't thought much about his rank and what duties he would have had, but just had a look and here is a discussion in another forum about Lance Corporals; which is quite interesting.

I had heard of the hooter calling the men to work, I think it went off 3 times at 15 minutes intervals or something like that; and was really loud. But not sure if the first one would have woken them and then they had 45 minutes to have breakfast and get to the works, or if they would have already been up. I had also heard in passing of the Hammerman Poet; who seemed like an interesting and unusual character. I didn't know you could read his book online though. That's brilliant, I'd like to find out more about him and the everyday details of the works; plus it looks like it includes some information regarding working regime for the other trades (including boilermakers - which was Walter's apprenticeship). Also others in the family worked as coach/carriage makers, finishers and trimmers. I found a .doc file online which describes the GWR apprenticeship and talks a bit about the various trades and hierarchies. I've checked the dates and Walter and Alfred were contemporary in regards working there, so they may have known each other.

That's great, thanks again for the link, I'll grab a coffee and do some reading. :)
Hi there...nice to know that the Hammerman is thought about thousands of miles away.
He would have liked that.
Manchester Road is still thriving in Swindon....as you know his quick rise in rank was probably due to the carnage and loss of men....sad he didn't live through it.
My Great Uncle died in WW1....joined the Hants regiment(in Southampton) that was almost decimated...was transfered to the Wilts regiment and got through all the hardships of war before being killed far away in Israel a few weeks before the wars end:mad:


Back to Walter...do you know where his family origanally came from...most moved to Swindon because of the works.
The book is long winded bit incredibly interesting in getting to know the trades etc.
It was a fairly damming book for the time and it is no suprise Alfred left the works fairly quick after it being published.
As i say...any info or pics required then let me know....Lee.