Awards, contracts & appointments

08.11.19

100 years after first memorial service, South Western Railway worker pays respect to his great-grandfather

Team member at Putney station, Matthew Philips, has a special connection to the railway. His great-grandfather worked on the same rail route, which was then called the London and South Western Railway, over a century ago as a parcel porter in Southampton.

Arthur (second from left in photo) is remembered on the Great War memorial, as AJJ Wilkins, by the Victory Gate stairs, at Waterloo station. In 1916 at the age of 19 he volunteered to join the Hampshire Regiment. After getting injured at Passchendaele, he returned home to recover before returning again in France with the 1st Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry.

Sadly, after signing up to fight on the Western front during World War One, Arthur Wilkins was killed in action at the young age of 21, on the 15th of April 1918. Leaving behind his wife and daughter, Matthew’s grandmother.

Arthur’s regiment played a vital part of a wider effort in deterring the final effort by the German army across France and Belgium at La Bassee Canal.

Matthew was invited to represent SWR at the Centenary Memorial Service, at Southwark Cathedral on Wednesday (Nov 6th), honouring those who lost their lives during world wars. He will also lay a wreath at the Victory Arch memorial on Armistice Day, alongside SWR’s Managing Director, in honour of the railwaymen that gave their lives.

Andy Mellors, Managing Director for South Western Railway said: “It was an honour to attend the event at Southwark Cathedral, 100 years after the first service of commemoration. It will be a very special moment to lay a wreath at the Victory Arch on Armistice Day, with Arthur’s great-grandson Matthew.”

Matthew Philips said when asked about his great-grandfather: “It was an honour to be able to remember my great-grandfather, a proud railwayman for our company and his colleagues who gave up their today for our tomorrow. My family have always been incredibly proud of him. Despite not wanting to go, he signed up and embarked for the war twice - the second time knowing the horrors of the war.

“Thanks to the information passed on by my grandmother and the research my father and I have done for many years, we visited his plaque in Ploegsteert, Belgium 18 months ago. He is a hero to our family.”

Image Source: South Western Railway 

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