Discover Your Past
Discover your past

The Pals Battalions of Bradford
The 16th and 18th Battalions of  West Yorkshire Regiments or the 1st and 2nd Bradford Pals, as they were known, were recruited locally  with the promise that they could stand shoulder to shoulder with their friends, workmates and neighbours rather than be absorbed into the regular army. There was no shortage of men eager to volunteer to serve King and Country.
In Nov 1914 the Bradford Daily Telegraph listed the first 1000 men to join, what became known as, the 16th Battalion. It gave the occupations of the men prior to enlisting. Amongst the rank of Private, as you would expect, there are many men who were engaged in the wool trade, such as wool sorters, over lookers, dyer’s assistants etc. Men from the construction industry are well represented, as are clerks, hairdressers, waiters, butchers. There were engineers, chemists, a professional boxer, an evangelist, a schoolmaster and, even, a Gentleman.
The Somme
The 1st of July 1916 is the bloodiest, most disastrous single event that the British army has ever encountered. There were 57,470 British casualties that day, of which 19,240 had died. Of the 2000 Bradford men that left their trenches, 1700 were killed or injured. Most of that number within the first hour. The Bradford Pals were not alone in their losses, other Pals Regiments were severely decimated, and amongst that number were the Accrington Pals, the Leeds, the Barnsley Pals and the Sheffield Pals. A whole generation of young men from these towns and cities were wiped out. What the recruiters had failed to realise was that the men that lived, worked and fought together would now die together.
Amongst the Lost:
1st Bradford Pals
16/380 Private Arthur Walmsley (20years), son of Walter and Amy Walmsley, 379 Thornton Road.
16/1036 Private Wilfred Waite (18 years), son of Annie Elizabeth Waite, 11a Westbourne Road, Manningham.
16/1241 Private Ben Marsden (19years), son of George and Eliza Marsden, 24 Shirley Road, Dudley Hill.
16/823 Private Alfred Brightrick Spence(21years), son of John S and Harriett Spence, 28 Quarry Street, Heaton.
2nd Bradford Pals
18/507 Private George Clough (18years), son of Joseph and Mary Clough, 3 Peterborough Place, Undercliffe.
18/187 Private Arthur Daybell (21years), son of George and Eliza Daybell, 82 Seaton Street.
18/31 Private John Richard North (22years) and 18/40 Private Reginald North (21), sons of John Wm and Emma North, 24 Worthington Road, Wyke.
The Thiepval Memorial, Memorial to the Missing of the Somme carries the names of over 72,000 Officers and men who died during the Somme campaign, but have no known grave. Many men of the 1st and 2nd Bradford Pals, including the men named above, are commemorated on Pier and Face 2A 2C and 2D.
The writer J.B. Priestley, writing about the Bradford of his youth, commented:

“There are many gaps in my acquaintance now; and I find it difficult to swap reminiscences of boyhood. The men who were boys when I was a boy are dead. Indeed they never even grew to be men. They were slaughtered in youth; and the parents of them have grown lonely, the girls they would have married have grown grey in sisterhood, and the work they have done has remained undone.”

At the 90th Anniversary of the Armistice of The Great War on 11th November 2008 remember these men and the many other men who lost their lives during World War 1.
We sent these boys to do the work of men which they did with honour and without question. We owe it to their memory to never forget.

The Fallen
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
Lest We Forget

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