In this week of #remembrance, we honour The #Yorkshire Pals Battalions. When WW1 broke out on 5th August 1914 Field Marshal Lord Kitchener soon realised the professional British Army was too small to take on the Germans. Sir Henry Rawlinson suggested to Kitchener that men would be more likely to enlist if they served with friends from home, and so the ‘Pals’ Battalions were born and Yorkshire cities answered the call. Leeds raised two Pals Battalions; the 15th and 17th West Yorkshire Regiment. Bradford matched this effort to create the 16th and 18th Battalions West Yorkshire Regiment. Hull exceeded all expectations and raised four battalions for the East Yorkshire Regiment who became the 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th Battalions. Soldiers arrived in France between 1st February and 25th March 1916. All were posted to the now famous Somme sector of the frontline. All the Leeds and Bradford Pals Battalions fought in the Battle of the Somme and all suffered huge losses and by the end of the Battle of the Somme had become Pals Battalions in name only. Most of those who had joined in the heady enthusiasm of 1914 had been wiped out in battle. The 1st Leeds Pals lost 24 officers and 504 soldiers on the first day of fighting alone.
Entire towns and communities were devastated as losses were concentrated in small areas. Streets, businesses and sports teams found in one fell swoop that a huge number of their men were gone. The Pals Battalion became an experiment never to be repeated. When war broke out again in 1939 there was not another raising of community armies, instead conscription was introduced to prevent the same tragedy reoccurring.
Royal British Legion SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity #wewillrememberthem #lestweforget2023