October 26, 2016

PICTURED: Heartbreaking farewell messages from WW1 soldiers published for first time

POIGNANT messages from hundreds of courageous British soldiers on their way to and from the trenches of the First World War have been published online for the first time.

A unique insight into what was going through the minds of Britain’s war heroes has emerged as visitor books at a key railway stop for soldiers making their way to the frontline is published.

Between 1916 and 1917 troops from across the UK regularly stopped at the now derelict Peterborough East Railway Station in Cambridgeshire.

The message books gave soldiers a chance to jot down their thoughts as they waited for their train, tragically some for the final time.

The poignant entries in the visitor books kept in the station’s tea room run by the Temperance Movement have now been digitised to give descendants a glimpse of what life was like.

In one moving message, Army Cadet Miller Jamieson from North Shields wrote: “When the war-drum throbs no longer, may I – going North – be here again.”

The soldier, who was on his way to the frontline, was presumed killed in action in Flanders a little over five months later and never made the trip home.

Richard Hunt, archives manager for Vivacity Culture and Leisure, which is helping orchestrate the project, said: “There are over 570 entries in all.

“Some are simple words of thanks, others talk of love and hope.

“Together, they provide a unique insight to the servicemen’s thoughts and feelings and we want to try to paint a personal picture of the men who once found comfort in Peterborough.

“We have found out some of the facts of some of their lives, but are appealing for their descendants to come forward to add colour to the stories of these heroes.”

The project, which has been funded through a £99,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant, can be viewed online at www.peterboroughww1.co.uk.

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