THEY sacrificed their lives in one of the bloodiest battles of all time.

Now, as Britain marks the 100th anniversary of its decision to enter The Great War of 1914-18, it's hoped a fitting memorial can be created for the Bradford Pals who fought and died in the Battle of the Somme.

And the people of the district are being asked to club together to help make it all happen, by donating to a new 'Honour the Pals' appeal.

Today, Bradford Council and the Telegraph & Argus, with the support of the Bradford World War One Group, have joined forces to launch the appeal to raise money for a lasting memorial to those who fell.

It's hoped this memorial will be unveiled in France on the centenary of the beginning of the Battle of the Somme on July 1, 2016, as a lasting reminder of the sacrifice of the many young Bradfordians who lost their lives.

This includes not just the Pals but men from the district who fought with other battalions and regiments - notably the Territorials and the 10th Battalion West Yorks.

The appeal follows calls by locals and history groups for a fitting tribute to the Bradford Pals in or near the French battlefields.

The district has a proud history of honouring its war dead, but while there is a memorial to the Pals in Bradford city centre, many other British towns and cities have also placed memorials to their fallen at the Somme battlefields.

Tricia Platts, secretary of the Bradford World War One group, said her group thought it was hugely important for Bradford to have such a memorial at the Somme.

She said: "Other towns in the north of England who had Pals regiments have got wonderful memorials at the Somme. Why not us?

"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."


Council leader, Councillor David Green, said it was Alan Hall's book The Story of Bradford which first drew his attention to the lack of a memorial to the Pals in France.

He said: "That just set me thinking that given there's a memorial in Bradford city centre, it seems a tragedy that we don't have some form of recognition of those who died in the area of the Battle of the Somme."

Cllr Green said that, after speaking to T&A editor Perry Austin-Clarke, they had decided to set up an appeal to pay for such a memorial.

And he said he wanted to see as many people as possible contribute small amounts to the fund, to give the appeal a real sense of community.

He said: "When you look back at how many of the cenotaphs were funded, it was through public appeal and public donation.

"It is almost trying to get that spirit back."

Mr Austin-Clarke added: “The appalling loss and bloody sacrifice of the First World War must never be forgotten and there is no more fitting way to keep that message alive, 100 years later, than to create a new, solid and lasting memorial bought and paid for by the descendants who are here today because their ancestors died in our name.

“We hope we can erect a fitting tribute that many, many generations to come will use to help teach about the futility of war but also the sheer courage of those who were willing to die to help safeguard the future for those they left behind.”

The Bradford World War One group placed its own plaque to the Pals in the French village of Hébuterne in 2002.

But chairman Geoff Barker said an official memorial would be a fitting way to remember those who had fought and died.


He said: "Nearly everyone in Bradford has got some relative, now going back to great-grandfathers and great-uncles, who were involved in that campaign.

"They may not have been at the Somme that day, but they may well have been."

The Bradford Pals formed part of the West Yorkshire Regiment and on July 1, 1916, they took part in action on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

At 7.30 that morning, whistles blew and British soldiers left their trenches to walk across No Man's Land towards the German lines. But the attack was not a surprise - enemy gunfire started and the slaughter began.

Although the exact number of casualties is not known, it is estimated that around three-quarters of the 1,394 Pals who went 'over the top' were either killed or injured that day.

The Battle of the Somme continued until November 18, 1916, on both sides of the River Somme in France.

Men from Bradford were lost at Serre (the Pals), Thiepval (the Territorials) and Fricourt (10th Battalion West Yorks).

In total, more than 1,000,000 men were wounded or killed, making it one of history's bloodiest battles.

During the First World War the total number of military and civilian casualties was more than 37 million. There were more than 16 million deaths and more than 20 million wounded.

Each year, dignitaries, members of the armed forces and well-wishers gather in Bradford city centre to commemorate the anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Somme and the loss of Pals lives.


To donate to the appeal, send a cheque, payable to 'Honour the Pals Appeal', with your name and address and contact details to:

Honour the Pals Appeal
Telegraph & Argus
Hall Ings

Alternatively, hand it in at the Telegraph & Argus office, City Hall, in Bradford or Keighley Town Hall.