Railway man’s journey on C2C line evokes war time memories

A LOCAL retired railway man celebrated his 94th birthday and fulfilled a lifetime ambition last Friday (2 September) with a special train cab ride to London Fenchurch Street.

Harold ‘Andy’ Anderson was accompanied by his daughter, Linda Mead, who had contacted National Express operator c2c to ask if it was possible for her father to have a ride in the train cab as part of his birthday celebrations and a tour of Southend Central station as he had worked there before serving in WW2.

After his cab ride experience, Andy said: "This has been such an interesting morning and it was a revelation to see all the changes that had taken place since working at Southend Central station all those years ago. Thanks so much for organising my birthday treat – it’s been marvellous."

Andy’s daughter Linda also thanked c2c for making her father’s birthday so special and said: "When all of this was organised I didn’t realise that a train cab ride was one ambition he thought he never would have the chance to achieve. He was so full of memories for the rest of the day that he didn’t sleep much Friday night. I can’t thank you enough for making a very happy 94-year-old’s birthday and year."

Andy started his railway career at Southend East booking office in 1939 at the age of 16, earning just £45 per year. While working in the parcel office there, a young lady called Hildergard Ehrlich arrived with a large wicker hamper for her voyage on the SS Athenia from Liverpool Docks. Andy never forgot Hildergard and recently discovered that she sadly lost her life when the ship was sunk by a German U boat on 3 September 1939.

In 1940, he moved to Southend Central’s parcel office and can vividly remember eschewing the safety of the bomb shelter to sit at the end of the platform to watch the Battle of Britain take place overhead on 15 September 1940.

Andy joined the Royal Engineers when he was 18 and served in North Africa and Italy. After the war he returned to working on the railways but this time as a clerical officer at St Pancras station, London. Here he met his late wife Jessie, who had also worked for the railway during the war years. He was based at many different London stations before returning to Southend Central as Area Administration Officer. He retired in 1982.

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