The World War I railway story
World War I (1914-18) is considered Britain’s first ‘total’ war, with large parts of society mobilised to support the war effort.
The crucial role of the railway in World War I, both in Britain and abroad, is marked in a Rail Delivery Group exhibition. Launched in August 2014, the exhibition provides visitors the opportunity to see photos, soldiers’ letters and unique memorabilia relating to the railway and the war. The exhibition is part of a nationwide tour and to date, has been hosted at a number of key locations including:
- Edinburgh Waverley station
- Leeds station
- Liverpool Lime Street station
- London Paddington station
- London Victoria station
- London Waterloo station
- London King's Cross station
- Manchester Piccadilly station
- Manchester Victoria station
- Reading station
- Swansea station
The years leading up to 1914 saw the build-up of hostilities. War finally broke out following the assassination of Austria-Hungary’s Archduke Franz Ferdinand. In spite of initial assurances that troops would be home by Christmas, the war did not end until 1918. During these years, over 16 million died across the world and 20 million were wounded as a result of the war.
World War I was one of the deadliest in modern history with the advance of mechanised mass destruction. New technology including tanks, armoured vehicles, high-explosive shells, poison gas, machine guns, air warfare, grenades and trench warfare took their toll on troops and civilians.