Tuesday 2 June 2015

George Shenton 1896-1918 The Yorkshire Post. Thursday. August 10. 1922

George Shenton, Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, son of Richard Shenton, employed by the Great Central Railway at Woodford, was killed in action on the 23rd August 1918. He is buried at Gomiecourt South Cemetery, France, remembered on the local Woodford Halse war memorial and the Great Central War memorial in Sheffield.

The Yorkshire Post. Thursday. August 10. 1922.

Railwaymen in the war.

Earl Haig's tribute at Sheffield.

(From our special correspondence.)

During the Great War 1304 men employed by the Great Central Railway lost their lives. To perpetuate their memory a handsome memorial has been erected by subscription at the entrance to the Victoria station at Sheffield, and it was unveiled yesterday by Field Marshall Earl Haig.
The memorial takes the form of an arch of severely classic design supported by columns, and enclosing tablets on which are inscribed the names of the dead. Sheffield has been chosen as the site of the memorial because it is in the centre of the companies system, and is a station which is wholly Great Central. The memorial faces down the approach road to the station, and acts as a kindly mark to the somewhat unheroic front of the station. It has been designed by the companies architect, Mr T. E. Calcott.
The ceremony yesterday was robbed of a great deal of its imperativeness by the wretched weather. During the whole of the time it occupied, cold drizzling rain fell. The station approach was closed to the general public, and the broad asphalt roadway was filled with rows of chairs intended for the bereaved relatives. These turned up in large numbers-wives, children, fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters of the fallen-and practically every person carried a wreath or other floral offering to lay at the foot of the shrine. It would have been a most impressive thing to see all these people, with hearts still aching in loving remembrance, bringing their offerings to those who have passed to the other side; but what one actually saw through a very bad Sheffield day was a vast expanse of dripping umbrellas. The rain also, to some extent, interfered with the proper marshalling and what may without irreverence be called the stage management of the proceedings.
Before the ceremony Earl Haig inspected the parade of ex-service men, during which time the band of the Queens Own Yorkshire Dragoons played a selection of appropriate music. The ceremony which was presided over by Lord Faringdon, The chairman of the Great Central Railway Company, commenced with the singing of that hymn which has brought consolation to countless bereaved hearts, "O God, our help in ages past."

The patriotism of G. C. Men.

Lord Faringdon, in introducing Earl Haig, said all present decide to take that opportunity of testifying that sense of what the country owed to the men who had given their lives. "Their names," said his lordship, "Are already engraved upon the hearts of many who are with us, who mourn the loss they have sustained, but recognise, as we all do, that but for their devotion, the freedom of which we are so proud might have been non-existent. The respect and admiration we feel we desire to hand down to future generations." He mentioned that it had been erected at the cost of the company, the shareholders, the offices, and the staff. There had been 390 shareholders who had subscribed, and 3780 officers and men. Subscriptions had come from various parts of the world-Canada, India, France, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and Vancouver-and the amounts that had been subscribed had varied from a shilling to £100. When all classes of community came forward so regularly to render assistance at the time of the nations great trial, it would, he said, invidious to mention any particular industry as having done its duty, but it was, nevertheless, the fact that railwaymen could claim that from the highest to the lowest a steady response was given to the call for service.
Of the Great Central Railway employees, 10,177, or 29.38 per cent. of the whole of the staff, joined up, and it was considered a privilege by those who, by reason of age or for other good cause, were unable to go to the front, to be allowed in the companies shops to work with might and main to provide munitions of war. He especially referred to the alacrity with which their men joined Lord Kitchener's army at the beginning of the war. There was a real enthusiasm to be amongst the first to enrol, and even without leave or obtaining security of reinstatement in the companies service they rushed to their countries call. He referred also to the fact that many of the Grimsby men, officers and crews of their boats, many of whom were in the Royal Naval reserve, at once tendered their services. Amongst them the staff had won decorations.

Helpful work in the shops.

At home a large amount of work was done in their shops at Gorton and elsewhere. Three trains were taken from the existing stock and converted into ambulance trains, and one entirely new train of sixteen vehicles was built at Gorton. High sided goods wagons, to the number of 3267, where put in condition equal to new and sent to France, and 40 new goods wagons were constructed and sent to France. Twenty-five goods brakes were built, and 12 of the old goods brakes were reconstructed and send overseas. Thirty-three of the 8-wheel couple engines were put into first-class order, and three new engines of the same class were built and sent to the front. Howitzer and gun carriages were constructed, and 5,512,000 18-pounder cartridges were renovated, in addition to the making of a large number of high explosive shells. Besides the men who had lost their lives, 2117 men were wounded.
"So deep an impression," said Lord Faringdon, " had the events of the years of warfare made upon our minds, that it is difficult to realise that nearly four years have passed since the armistice was signed, and with many of us there are regrets that the immense effort then made, which of necessity sapped our resources, has not yet been followed by a full return to the prosperity that victory was expected to secure. We recognise today that, after a conflagration greater than the world had ever previously known, a time for recuperation is essential, and we look forward to the future knowing that the cause of justice and right which we vindicated, will bring its reward, and that the blood of the men who gave their lives will not have been shed in vain."

Earl Haig on the meaning of memorials.

Earl Haig, before unveiling the memorial, assured the bereaved of his sympathy. "Yet." He said, "it is not only of grief that this memorial speaks. The day will come when we in our turn will pass on, but after we are gone and after generations yet unborn have followed us, these stones will stand as evidence of the splendid sacrifice and glorious achievement of 1304 brave and gallant men whose names they bear. It is, therefore, I think a duty for all of us to look on these memorials less and less with sorrow and more and more with pride and gratitude-gratitude when we think of the price paid by these men for the liberty we now enjoy, and pride that when the time of peril came men of the British race were found worthy of the occasion, ready and willing to devote themselves without reserve or thought of self to the service of their country. These memorials are monuments to the spirit of the manhood of our race. They are also an encouragement, an example, and an inspiration to future generations of British men and woman to be worthy of the standard set by all ranks and all classes of their fellow countrymen in the days of the Great War."

The work of railwaymen.

Railwayman he went on to say, came through with a fine record in all theatres of war, and nowhere more so than in France. Apart from the service of railwaymen with the fighting forces, the work that they did as railwaymen must not be forgotten. It was a vital work essential to the success of the army. It was often highly dangerous work, calling for a peculiar quality of courage, that of being able to go on steadily and intelligently and persistently with the job in hand though exposed constantly to the enemies fire and unable to hit back. So he was glad to thank railwaymen, and especially the men of the great central railway, for the courage and loyalty and the skill which he as commander of so many of them so much appreciated. "They fought," said the Field Marshall in conclusion. "To bring liberty to the oppressed, to preserve justice on earth and fair dealing among men to maintain the good name of our race, and the safety and honour of our country. They died for that cause: remembering them shall we not live for it."
The flags covering the memorial were then drawn away, and the Rev. Canon T. Houghton Rural Dean of Sheffield and vicar of Eccleshall, offered up a dedicatory prayer.  Trumpeters of the Yorkshire Dragoons sounded the "last post." And the ceremony closed with the singing of "God save the King." Afterwards a very large number of wreaths were deposited at the foot of the memorial, the first being from the directors of the company and the next from the companys staff, deposited by Sir Sam Fay, the general manager. Then all the relatives present filed past and deposited their tributes, until at the close the memorial was surrounded by a huge bank of flowers.