|Ian Aitchenson tells me about his military service |
and long career on the buses
Together with an Overground and Circle Line train these buses are designed to raise awareness of the sacrifices made by London's service men and women. We are also launching the Veteran Oyster photo cards and decorating some bus shelters too.
London Transport is the only civilian organisation permitted to march past the Cenotaph on Remembrance Day. It was granted by King George V in 1920 in recognition of the services to the country of bus staff who drove buses to the front line in France in 1915.
Each year the London Transport Old Comrades do so remembering the 1500 staff who died in World War 1, the 3000 who died in World War II, and others subsequently.
It was a great privilege today to meet several old and not so old veterans in Whitehall where we launched and then took a ride on one of the two Stagecoach vehicles which will now run in service for the next few weeks.
I talked to Elsie Davies, who is now 94, a former conductress who was one of 11,000 women recruited during the early months of the war. I also talked to Ian Aitchenson who proudly showed me a photograph of himself in Germany on the last day of World War II in 1945. Ian was a driver at Walworth and Camberwell, finishing his career on the Original London Sightseeing Tour from Wandsworth eventually being the sole driver and guardian of Routemaster ERM242 which over time was gradually polished and smartened up. He was sad to end his driving career even though well into his 70s but as a Scotsman proud to know his particular bus ended up in Edinburgh.
The next time we see them will be with very many other colleagues as they march past the Cenotaph in a couple of Sundays time, as we take a moment to remember all those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
|Representatives of road and rail London Transport|
staff launch our poppy buses and trains