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Railways and Remembrance

World War I was a railway war. Michael Portillo finds out how the railways helped to precipitate a mechanised war, shaped how it was fought, conveyed millions to the trenches and bore witness to its end. He takes to historic tracks to rediscover the locomotives and wagons of the war that was supposed to end all wars and hears the stories of the gallant men and women who used them in life and in death.

In this final episode, Michael explores the aftermath of this earth-shattering conflict. For four years, the railways had fed the front line with vast numbers of men, munitions and supplies. But even after the armistice had been signed in a railway carriage, the work of the railways was not done. As Britain continued to mourn its dead, the railways played an important part in their remembrance. Michael hears stories of railway war heroes and encounters a remarkable railway wagon used to honour them. He hears how the railways helped give birth to battlefield tourism, and in the cemeteries of Ypres he meets the great-grandchildren of some of the fallen.

Release date:

30 minutes

Last on

Fri 7 Aug 2015 12:30


Role Contributor
PresenterMichael Portillo
Executive ProducerJohn Comerford
Series ProducerAlison Kreps

World War One on TV and Radio


Marking the centenary of World War One across the BBC