Town mouse on war heroes remembered

Living in Pimlico, my family and I are always hurrying past Victoria station. It has nothing like the glamour of St Pancras, revamped for the Eurostar, standing as a proud and dysfunctional memorial to unbridled Victorian capitalism.

Victoria was originally two stations-one for the Brighton line, the other for the London, Chatham and Dover-built next to each other in contrasting styles and materials. But it does claim a place in history as the station from which thousands of First World War soldiers left for France and to which the wounded came home.

The dead did not return; whatever their rank, soldiers were buried where they fell, their deaths later marked by identical white stone crosses. Only the Unknown Soldier came back to Victoria, on his way to Westminster Abbey. The railway van that transported him had previously carried the remains of two other heroes: Nurse Edith Cavell, shot by the Germans as a supposed spy, and ferry captain Charles Fryatt, who refused to surrender to a U-boat in 1915, ramming it instead (he was captured and shot).

Now, the van has been restored by the Kent and East Sussex Railway Society. Perhaps it could be brought to Victoria for a spell. Grosvenor Gardens, opposite the station, already has the equestrian statue of Marshal Foch.