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The Railway War Effort (2005)

Awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously for his heroics at Passchendaele during one of the bloodiest battles of all time, James Peter Robertson was one of thousands of Canadian railway employees who served their country in war efforts during the terrible conflicts of the last century.

From RAC 'Interchange' magazine (Fall 2005)Mr. Robertson was born in Albion Mines, Pictou , Nova Scotia in 1883. In 1899, the Robertson family moved to Medicine Hat, Alberta and "Singing Pete" as he became known joined the Canadian Pacific Railway where he worked his way up to locomotive engineer. His cheerful singing and whistling in the locomotive cab or in the roundhouse was fondly remembered.

In 1915, he joined the 13th Canadian Mounted Rifles and later, while in England, transferred to the 27th Battalion where his bravery during World War I earned him the Victoria Cross. This honour made him a legend among the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers the world over and at a postwar international convention in Cleveland Ohio, 77,000 delegates rose to their feet to salute his gallantry.

Robertson is buried at the Tyne Cot Commonwealth war cemetery at Passchendale. In Medicine Hat , the local branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, a swimming pool, and a street are named for him.

Troop Train   (Photo: CN) Canada 's railways and their employees were instrumental in victory in both world wars. Key railway shops were converted to turn out tanks, guns, munitions and ships, in addition to keeping locomotives, freight and passenger cars rolling. The railways also set up pilot training schools, and pioneered transatlantic ferrying of bombers to Britain . They helped Canada and its allies win the war.

During the Second World War, almost 43,000 CN and CPR employees enlisted and some 1,500 of them were killed in service to their country.

It is fitting that in 2005 – “The Year of the Veteran” - that the Canadian Railway Hall of Fame honour the contribution of wartime railroaders. Some — like James Peter Robertson — gave the supreme sacrifice for their country – ensuring the protection of the values and freedoms that we enjoy today.

Click here for War Veterans Inducted Into Railway Hall of Fame

From RAC 'Interchange' magazine (Fall 2005)

 

 

From RAC 'Interchange' magazine (Fall 2005)



 

 

 

 


 

 
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