Pals’ walk through town is reenacted

Photo Neil Cross'The 100th anniversary commemorative walk of the Chorley Pals going off to war today.
Photo Neil Cross'The 100th anniversary commemorative walk of the Chorley Pals going off to war today.

The past and the present came together in Chorley yesterday for a poignant tribute to the brave First World War Chorley soldiers who became known as the Chorley Pals.

A reenactment of the march to war made by the men 100 years ago to the day took place yesterday.

Pals’ historian Steve Williams said: “About two dozen people took part, symbolising the event.

“Unfortunately MP Lindsay Hoyle couldn’t make it because of his parliamentary duties but he was glad once again that the Chorley Pals’ Memorial Trust remembered this important day in Chorley’s history.

“The Mayor Roy Lees and his wife Margaret joined us. Margaret is the granddaughter of a Chorley Pal who was killed on the Somme, so it’s very poignant for her.

“Veronica Abbott (her father was Pal Thomas Leach) joined us. Members of the army reserve unit at the drill hall joined us. Local historian Stuart Clewlow and John Garwood and myself represented the trust. I think Chorley did themselves proud and we did Chorley proud.”

Steve explained: “On Tuesday, February 23, 1915, the Chorley men paraded in the Drill Hall on Devonshire Road at around 11am for a private civic send off. At the ceremony, an Old English Sheepdog was presented to the Pals as a mascot by local businessman Mr RE Stanton. Major Milton immediately named it Ned after its benefactor and promised, on behalf of the Company, to be ‘kind to the pet’. He then charged Lt Rigby with looking after the new member of the Chorley Company.

“Major Milton, a local solicitor and member of Chorley Town Council, then called for ‘three cheers’ for the Mayor and Corporation of Chorley.

“At 11.20 am, with Ned and Lt Rigby in the lead, the Chorley Pals set off for the railway station to the music of the North Lancs (Chorley) Band.

“With a thick covering of snow on the ground, they set off via Hamilton Road to Pall Mall, turning on to Market Street and then into Chapel Street up to the station. Despite the cold weather, crowds lined both sides of the route. At the station, another large crowd, including the Mayor and local children excused school, watched as the soldiers waited on the platform and listened to the men singing songs.

“Their train to Caernarvon arrived at 11.50am and five minutes later, to cheering from the crowd and the strains of Auld Lang Syne, the Pals left town to go to war and into history, being part of the Accrington Pals battalion.”

Steve revealed: “Of the original 221 Pals who enlisted in Chorley between September 1914 and June 1915, 46 died whilst serving in the Company during the war, 12 died serving in other battalions or regiments, whilst two died shortly after the war either from sickness or their wounds.

“Of those 175 Chorley men in the front line trenches at Serre on the morning of the July 1, 1916, 34 were killed or died of their wounds, whilst a further 59 were wounded. Many who survived bore the physical and mental scars of war for the rest of their lives.”