Virgin Trains has announced that two Royal Air Force veterans, who served in the Second World War, have launched a specially-named Virgin Trains service from Holyhead Station.
‘Royal Air Force Centenary 1918 – 2018’ has been named to commemorate the RAF’s centenary and its historic links with the railway in North Wales.
The nameplate was unveiled at a ceremony by veterans Mary Roberts and Wing Commander John Wynne, both of who served in World War II.
Mary turned 100 in May and served as a nurse in the conflict. Her role was based at RAF Hemswell. She was also posted to Flying Training Command, in Pwllheli.
John Wynne was a pilot and flying instructor who flew Wellington bombers, Fortress and Mosquito aircraft and the Valiant jet bomber throughout his career.
The nameplate was unveiled on Virgin Trains’ Super Voyager 221114 shortly before its inaugural journey to London.
The railway’s connections with the RAF can be traced back to the early days of the Air Force with Locomotive No. 6 Douglas, which is based at the Talyllyn Railway in southern Snowdonia. Earlier this year, it received a RAF centenary livery to mark its 100th year.
What did the officials say?
Mary Roberts, who lives on Anglesey, said:
“I am thrilled to have been invited to take part in this special occasion during the RAF’s Centenary year. God Bless the train and all who travel in her.”
Wing Commander John Wynne DFC, aged 97, said:
“I’m delighted to be supporting this RAF Centenary event with Virgin Trains, which is about service and connecting people. This splendid ‘Royal Air Force Centenary’ train, which is a vital transport link for the people of North Wales and beyond, will provide us with a living reminder of the great service of the RAF to our nation and its shared history with Wales for the past 100 years.”
Air Commodore Williams, RAF’s Air Officer Wales, said:
“The RAF are very grateful to Virgin Trains for naming one of their engines after the RAF Centenary. We know that having an engine named after you is a rare and special thing, so the RAF is delighted to be recognised in this way, and I hope Virgin Trains customers across the network will also enjoy this special connection to the RAF. The Virgin Trains route from London Euston to Holyhead also goes directly past RAF Valley in Anglesey, where all the RAF’s fighter pilots are trained, so these are all great reasons for us to celebrate the RAF Centenary together. Thank you, Virgin Trains.”
Gaynor Stewart, General Manager at Virgin Trains, added:
“We’re proud to be playing our part in celebrating one hundred years of the Royal Air Force and its personnel – past and present. From its early days the RAF had connections to the railway and we’re pleased to be highlighting its continued links, as they mark a significant milestone in its history. We have been proud to serve North Wales for over 20 years and during this time we’ve worked closely to support RAF Valley with their work in the local community here on Anglesey.”