VE DAY: Great Western Railway to name trains in honour of West Country veterans

Credit: ITV News West Country

Great Western Railway (GWR) is going to name two of its trains after West Country veterans to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

Harry Billinge MBE from Cornwall and Cpl George Sheard from Plymouth will have their names emblazoned on the front of separate Intercity Express Train.

All the train naming ceremonies were to be held in the run-up to VE Day but have been postponed. Credit: ITV News West Country

The two men form part of a select group of six individuals to receive the honour, alongside wartime leader Sir Winston Churchill.

All the train naming ceremonies were to be held in the run-up to VE Day but have been postponed until a relaxation in the Government’s Covid-19 restrictions.

We at Great Western have a long history of naming trains after Great Westerners, the past and present heroes from across our network.

Dan Panes, GWR Head of Communications
  • HARRY BILLINGE MBE

Harry was awarded an MBE last year for his fundraising efforts in St Austell for the Normandy Memorial. Credit: ITV News West Country

The former Royal Engineer Commando was 18 when he landed in the first wave at Gold Beach in 1944.

He was a sapper and went on to fight in Caen and the Falaise Pocket in Normandy. Harry was awarded an MBE last year for his fundraising efforts in St Austell for the Normandy Memorial.

Harry’s an inspiration and a daily reminder of that incredible generation. We can never say thank you enough for the privileges and freedom we enjoy today because of your sacrifices 75 years ago.

Johnny Mercer MP, Minister for Defence People and Veterans
  • Learn more about Harry Billinge MBE by watching our report below:

  • CPL GEORGE SHEARD

A casualty of World War Two, George was one of the ‘Cockleshell Heroes’ – a group of young Royal Marines who volunteered for hazardous service to travel by kayak up the River Gironde to plant limpet mines on enemy ships in Bordeaux Harbour.

Of the 10 men who went on the mission, only two survived, six were executed and two drowned – one of them being George Sheard, 27.

It’s a great honour that GWR has decided to name a train after Cpl George Sheard for his sacrifice and for us to enjoy the freedoms of travel in memory of his service.

Major General Matt Holmes CBE, Commandant General Royal Marines