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Poignant wartime messages left in a railway station tearoom

A project's been launched to find the relatives of First World War soldiers who left a series of poignant letters at Peterborough station. Credit: ITV News Anglia / Stuart Leithes

A new project's been launched to find the relatives of First World War soldiers who left a series of poignant last-minute letters at Peterborough station.

The 'thank you' messages were left in two visitor books. The books were in a tea room on the station platform - and 580 soldiers, sailors and members of the Royal Flying Corps wrote entries while waiting for their trains.

The notes were left by nearly 600 soldiers who passed through the station. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Researchers want to trace their relatives to find out more about the lives of those servicemen.

Thousands of servicemen caught trains in Peterborough during the First World War. Some wrote a few words of thanks in the visitor books kept at the station tea room.

Private Alf Davis was one of the solider who left a message in 1916.

Among the notes was one from was Private Alf Davis. He had accidentally shot and killed a fellow soldier in 1914.

But he became a stretcher bearer in the trenches - saving many lives.

He was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his bravery. Alf made this entry in 1916 when he was discharged after he was wounded and his leg was amputated.

Richard Hunt from Peterborough library looks through the station visitor books. Credit: ITV News Anglia

The tea room was run from 1916 to 17 by the Women's Total Abstinence Council - a temperance movement.

Now staff at the archive in Peterborough Library want to trace more relatives of the 580 servicemen who wrote entries.

They are the kind words and observations of servicemen passing through the station.

Many not knowing if they'd survive to return from the fields of battle.

Heading for war: Soldiers on Peterborough station during the First World War.

Click below to watch a special report on the project by ITV News Anglia's Stuart Leithes

Another message was left by Second Lieutenant Thomas Armes.

He had studied at the Cambridge School of Art and sketched a soldier in the book in October 1916.

He served on the frontline in France until he was injured. After the war he became a prolific artist.

A project's been launched to find the relatives of First World War soldiers who left a series of poignant letters at Peterborough station. Credit: ITV News Anglia / Stuart Leithes