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The Sheffield PALS
The Sheffield PALS

City united over Somme Anniversary

28 June 2016

  • Plaque to be unveiled to Sheffielders who died in First World War
  • Commemorations in Sheffield and Sheffield Memorial Park in France
  • Weston Park to become a centenary field

The 4,898 members of Sheffield City Battalion who died during the First World War are to be honoured in France and their home city as the world remembers the “big push” – the first day of the Battle Of The Somme.

In Sheffield there will be a service and march starting at 11am on Friday 1 July at Weston Park, while 370 miles away in northern France, Sheffield Memorial Park will be the venue for a moving service featuring Her Worshipful the Lord Mayor and several city councillors.

After the commemorations for Sheffield’s Women of Steel, who worked in Sheffield’s munitions factories during the Second World War, these services put the spotlight on the so-called ‘Sheffield Pals’ from the York and Lancaster regiment who lost their lives in the First World War.

Sheffield City Council has nominated Weston Park as a ‘Centenary Field’, as part of a national initiative being led by the Fields in Trust and the Royal British Legion, and a new plaque will be unveiled at the park during the service.

Councillor Tony Damms, Sheffield City Council’s Armed Forces Champion, said: “After the wonderful celebrations and statue for our Women of Steel, these commemorations remember the brave and heroic Sheffielders who gave their lives in the 1914-1918 war.

“Dedicating a Centenary Field is a fitting way to commemorate the sacrifice of those who lost their lives in the conflict and ensures that their communities benefit now and in the future from protected green spaces.”

Pals Battalions began to be formed in August 1914. Following the outbreak of the First World War. Pals were usually recruited from a local area and were nicknamed because Lord Kitchener believed more men would enlist if they could serve alongside their, friends, relatives or work mates.

Sheffield Pals comprised mainly of businessmen, clerics, journalists, school teachers and students from across the city. They were called the “coffee and bun boys” by the Barnsley Pals because of their middle-class backgrounds.

Recruitment took place in September at Sheffield’s now-demolished Corn Exchange and about 1,000 men signed up within two days. The Sheffield Pals became part of The York and Lancaster Regiment as the 12th (Service) Battalion. The Hallamshire Battalion and the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry also included Sheffield men.

The Centenary Fields programme 2014 to 2018 aims to protect at least one green space in every local authority area across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to commemorate the centenary of the First World War.

Weston Park has been selected because of its local heritage and significance. The York & Lancaster Memorial within the park commemorates the loss of more than 8,800 soldiers during the First World War, including the Sheffield Pals.

Meanwhile, a group from Sheffield will be paying its respects at the Somme in Sheffield Memorial Park, where some 500 members of the Sheffield City Battalion were casualties on the first day of battle. Guests in France include Her Right Worshipful Lord Mayor of Sheffield Denise Fox and the Lord Mayor’s Consort, Cllr Terry Fox.

The service of commemoration will be taken by the Bishop of Sheffield in the presence of the High Sheriff of South Yorkshire, the Lord Mayor of Sheffield, the Mayors of Barnsley and Rotherham and local French Mayors.

The City of Sheffield Pipe Band will be in attendance together with buglers from the Yorkshire Volunteers and representatives of the Royal British Legion and other military associations.