Devon

WW1 New Zealand rail death soldiers remembered at Bere Ferrers

Ten soldiers killed in a rail accident during World War One have been remembered 100 years on.

The men, from New Zealand, were hit by an express train on the tracks just after travelling to England and stopping to collect rations in Devon.

Villagers in Bere Ferrers, west Devon, have held commemorations each year since it happened in 1917.

The Royal British Legion said it aimed to create a legacy of remembrance.

Image caption The service, on the train platform, was held at the same time as the accident 100 years ago.

The ten who died accidentally got onto the tracks through a door on the wrong side of the carriage when they were hit by a Waterloo-to-Plymouth express train, according to local historians.

Their descendants and officials including the New Zealand high commissioner gathered on Sunday for a memorial service on the platform at 15.53, at the time of the accident 100 years ago.

They viewed a new memorial garden, then attended a church service, two minute silence and laying of wreaths.

Local British Legion member and organiser Eddie Ember said: "The horrors of war were a far cry from Bere Ferrers in the trenches of France but it brought it home to the parishioners, the tragedy and the loss of these young men".

"We need to remember the sacrifice of the ten New Zealand soldiers who travelled half way round the world to support their mother country in its hour of need on that fateful day".

Image copyright Gillanders family
Image caption Victim William Gillanders married his wife Mary Ann just months before the disaster

Amanda Gillanders is the great great great niece of one of the accident victims, William Gillanders, who emigrated from Scotland to New Zealand in 1863 and lived on a family farm.

"It is really lovely that they continue to remember them year after year from such a tragedy that probably wasn't in the media a lot," she said.

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