TWO branches of Ernest Sykes’s family were re-united at a special ceremony to commemorate the deeds of Mossley’s Victoria Cross hero.
The unveiling of a Trans Pennine Express train bearing Ernest’s name and photograph at Manchester Piccadilly station was also attended by VIP guests including Mossley MP, Jonathan Reynolds MP and train campaigner, Melvin Thorley.
The event marked the official launch of this year’s Poppy Appeal.
For three months the ‘Poppy Train’ will criss-cross the North of England emblazoned with the images of Ernest and Stockport born, Wilfred Wood, awarded his Victoria Cross for conspicuous bravery and initiative near Casa Van, Italy, in October 1918.
Both men also worked for the railways and after World War One had Claughton Class locomotive engines named in their honour.
Earlier this year, a commemorative flag stone for Ernest was unveiled outside the George Lawton Hall in Mossley.
But to the embarrassment of organisers, only members of the Sykes family based in Huddersfield were invited.
Due to an administrative oversight Mossley based relatives were overlooked. They only discovered details of the event after the Correspondent posted news of the event online.
“We are just glad they finally been in touch with us,” said Karen Leaver, Ernest’s great grand daughter who attended the ceremony with other members of the Mossley family.
“To be finally part of something so special has been fantastic. And it’s been good to find out more about our extended family.”
Mr Reynolds said of the occasion: “It was a pleasure to meet family members and local veterans.
“I’m proud to have played a small part in the campaign to make this happen, and extend my greatest thanks to Melvin and all the local campaigners who strove to pay tribute to Ernest like this. We will remember him.”
Ernest, who lived in Bank Street, Mossley, worked as a plate layer for the London and North Western Railway Company before joining up with the 7th Battalion, the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment.
But it was while serving with the 27th Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers near Arras, France, in April 1917, Ernest braved heavy fire to bring back four wounded men – before making a fifth journey to bandage up those too badly wounded to be moved.
Paul Staples, Fleet Director at TPE, said: “I’m delighted that for the third year running we’re able to specially decorate one our trains to show our support for the Poppy Appeal.
“It’s an excellent way to recognise the great work the RBL does to support veterans and Armed Forces.”
* The first Poppy Appeal was held in 1921, which was the founding year of The Royal British Legion.