The gas industry was very supportive of its workers who wanted to sign up for military service during the Second World War and they served with distinction in all branches of our armed forces.
But the London-based 1st Battalion The Kings Royal Rifle Corps, also known as The Rangers, perhaps had more links to gas than many. Its ranks were mainly drawn from employees of the massive Beckton base of The Gas Light and Coke Company, where this army unit called home.
Mobilised on 1st September 1939, two days before Neville Chamberlain declared war on Germany, ‘The Rangers’ fought in the North African campaign and later Italy. A second battalion was also formed, fighting with the British Expeditionary Force in Northern France, helping to protect Dunkirk in the evacuation.
The Gas Light and Coke Company also had its own ‘Home Guard’ battalion – 40th London. At its height, more than 2,700 men and women served in this military unit, providing protection of gasworks and gasholder stations.
We’ve worked with Professor Russell Thomas, chairman of the history panel of the Institution of Gas Engineers and Managers, to produce this special series of stories for #VEDay75.