A VIRTUAL service will be held this week to mark the sacrifice of the Bradford Pals.

This year marks the 104th anniversary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme. Bradford Council will once again play host to the annual event to remember the sacrifices made by the men of the West Yorkshire Regiment, including the Bradford Pals, on Wednesday July 1 at 11am.

Due to the on-going social distancing measures and in the interest of wider public health, this year’s memorial event will take place as virtual service and will be held on the Council’s social media channels, including Facebook and YouTube.

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The virtual service will be introduced by the Lord Mayor and will feature contributions from the Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, Mr Ed Anderson, Tricia Restorick of the Bradford WW1 Group, as well as prayers and addresses from Bradford Cathedral , the Lord Mayor’s Chaplain and representatives from her Faith Advisory Team .

As tradition dictates, lone bugler, Craig Dixon from the Band of the West Yorkshire Police, will sound The Last Post to mark the start of a one minute's silence. Reveille will end the silence.

The Lord Mayor of Bradford, Cllr Doreen Lee, said: “It is with a heavy heart that we will not be able to gather as normal at Memorial Gardens at the Cenotaph to commemorate the Bradford Pals.

"The sacrifices of those young men from Bradford who came together to form the Bradford Pals and who gave so much during the First World War and particularly the Battle of the Somme should never be forgotten. We should also remember the grief and suffering of those families whose loved ones never returned home.”

“Under the current circumstances, it is right that the safety of the public should come first and while we will be paying our respects in a different way this year, the commemoration will be no less poignant.

“We hope that people across the district will join us online in paying our respects to those who made such a great sacrifice 104 years ago.”

Of the 1,400 Bradford Pals who went over the top at 7.30am on the morning of 1 July 1916, an estimated 917 became casualties, of which over 230 died on the battlefield or of wounds during the following days.

Our Bradford Territorials in 6th Battalion West Yorks also had a torrid time on 1 July, losing their Commanding Officer (wounded) and Medical Officer, a former Bradford GP (killed) among many casualties.

They remained on the Somme and were to suffer heavily on 25 July and 3 September 1916.