THE appeal to raise funds for a memorial to the Bradford Pals who fought and died at the Battle of the Somme, as revealed in yesterday’s Telegraph & Argus, is well under way.
The Honour the Pals appeal has seen Bradford Council, the Telegraph & Argus, supported by the Bradford World War One Group, team up to remembercommemorate the brave soldiers who took part in the first day of the conflict on July 1, 1916.
It is hoped the memorial will be unveiled in a ceremony in France to mark the centenary of the start of the Battle of the Somme on July 1, 2016.
And now anyone who backs the appeal can also leave messages of dedication to the soldiers who fell during the First World War, including at the Somme, by filling out the special section of the Honour The Pals Appeal coupon which is printed on the right of this story.
The messages, to be of a maximum of 50 words, will be uploaded in the Bradford At War section of telegraphandargus.co.uk/WW1.
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The Pals were recruited through the Citizens’ Army League and 1,069 men had enlisted within a month of war breaking out in August 1914, bringing the first Battalion – the Bradford Pals – into being.
Their road to the Somme saw the soldiers camp in Skipton, Ripon, Fovant in Wiltshire and then Egypt. In February 1916, the Pals were shipped to Marseille and taken by train to northern France.
The Bradford World War One Group believes 1,394 men ‘went over the top’ on July 1,1916 and 1,017 of these soldiers were either killed or injured in that one, dreadful day. The Battle of the Somme, fought on both sides of the River Somme, ended on November 18, 1916, on both sides of the River Somme in France.
Men from the Bradford district who fought with other battalions and regiments, such as the Territorials and the 10th Battalion West Yorks, will also be commemorated by the new memorial.
Tricia Platts, secretary of the Bradford World War One group, said a memorial is crucial to educate the next generations from Bradford going on school trips to the French battlefields.
She said: “It is hugely important, I think, for visitors making trips, especially to the Somme.
“More and more school groups are going and there is nowhere for the school groups from Bradford to go to focus their pupils’ attention”.
Geoff Barker, group chairman, said: “Nearly everyone in Bradford has got some relative, now going back to great-grandfathers and great-uncles, who were involved in that campaign.”
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The Pals’ bravery is already marked with a plaque in Bradford city centre and now a call has been made for a permanent reminder in the French battlefields where many of them lost their lives.
The Bradford World War One group placed its own plaque to the Pals in the French village of Herbuterne in 2002.