Heroes of WW2 to be honoured in train namings

Friday 07th February 2020

GWR to commemorate 75 years since Victory in Europe 

Great Western Railway (GWR) will mark 75 years since the end of World War 2 and peace was declared in Europe by naming six trains after remarkable individuals involved in the conflict.

Those being honoured represent the armed forces, the intelligence services and the world of politics, and remember the sacrifice, bravery and tenacity that helped defeat Nazism. 

Among others, those to have an Intercity Express Train named after them include: 
  • Harry Billinge MBE from St Austell in Cornwall, a veteran of D-Day
  • Wing Commander Ken Rees from Wales, Wellington Bomber pilot who was imprisoned in Stalag Luft III
  • Alan Turing from London, who led Hut 8 at the Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, responsible for breaking of German ciphers
GWR Head of Communications Dan Panes said:

“Naming trains and locomotives is a long tradition of the railway and one which GWR continues, supporting and promoting the people and communities we serve. 

“I am really pleased we are able to honour some of the heroes of the war effort, continuing to help tell their incredible stories, and especially during this year where we remember all those who gave so much.”

The six trains will be named during March and April in the run-up to VE Day at the beginning of May.

The first of those to be honoured is Odette Hallowes, a French citizen who lived in London and Devon/Somerset. Odette became a Special Operations Executive and the most highly decorated spy of the war. 

A special ceremony will take place at Paddington station and will be attended by members of Odette’s family on Friday 6 March.
Image of Odette Hallowes
Odette Hallowes

Odette’s granddaughter, Sophie Parker said:

“It means so much to our family that Odette is being recognised and remembered in this most moving way. Odette’s story is one of courage, dignity and hope; all of which were so important to her during her wartime service, and in overcoming the torture she suffered.

“I know Odette would be extremely humbled by this honour, and would want it seen as a tribute to all those brave women of the Special Operations Executive, especially those who never returned home.”

Further details of each of the ceremonies will be published in the coming weeks.

Notes to editors
Great Western Railway (GWR) provides high speed, commuter, regional and branch line train services. We help over 100 million passengers reach their destinations every year - across South Wales, the West Country, the Cotswolds, and large parts of Southern England.

We’re currently seeing the biggest investment in the network since Brunel so we can offer more trains, more seats, and shorter, more frequent journeys and continue the network’s heritage of helping connect more businesses to new and prosperous markets. Through a series of initiatives we aim to be a good neighbour to the communities we serve and are committed to making a positive social impact in those regions. Learn how we're Building a Greater West at GWR.com. GWR is a FirstGroup company.