100 years on from the final day of the Battle of the Somme a special ceremony will take place to unveil a new memorial stone dedicated to memory of the Bradford Pals who fought in World War One…

The Lord Mayor of Bradford Coun, Geoff Reid and his wife, the Lady Mayoress, Chris Reid will represent the city and the district by unveiling the monument at the French Memorial Chapel on the Serre Road, which overlooks the site of the trenches used by the Bradford Pals during Battle of the Somme.

The First and Second battalions of the Bradford Pals were advancing from these trenches towards the heavily fortified village of Serre on the first day of the Battle of the Somme in July of 1916.

The memorial stone being unveiled is an exact replica of one in the Memorial Gardens by the cenotaph in the centre of Bradford.

The inscription on the stone reads – To the memory of the soldiers of the Bradford Pals and the other servicemen of West Yorkshire who served in the Great War 1914 -18. ‘And lo a mighty army came out of the North.’

The Bradford Pals, like other Pals battalions, were formed from bands of friends or colleagues from all walks of life. In 1914 the then Lord Mayor of Bradford raised the First Battalion of Bradford Pals at the Mechanic’s Institute, which was used as a recruitment station at the time.

The Bradford WW1 Group, which meets at the Bradford Mechanics Institute, has been instrumental in organising the memorial. Members of the group will be present at the ceremony and a 100 year old Union Flag which flew above Mechanics Institute in Bradford, will be used in the unveiling on 19 November.

Local dignitaries from the villages and towns surrounding the site of the Battle of the Somme will be present at the ceremony, along with representatives of veteran groups and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Most of the service will be conducted in both Frence and English.

The memorial has been created thanks to generous donations from people from across the Bradford district via an appeal run in conjunction with the local newspaper, the Telegraph and Argus. The £2742.50 raised by this appeal was matched by Bradford Council, bringing the total to £5,485.

The Bradford WW1 Group has been heavily involved in the project including working to secure a fitting site for the memorial. The stone was donated by a quarry in Fagley and the transportation of the stone to its final location, in France, is being organised by Bradford company, Peckover Transport Services Limited.

The Lord Mayor of Bradford, Coun Geoff Reid, said: “We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to these brave men from Bradford who gave their lives during the First World War. We also need to remember the devastation wrought by the war on those families who lost fathers, sons, loved ones, friends and brothers, as well as on those who did come back but who were affected by their horrific experiences.

“This memorial is very much a product of Bradford, hewn from the rock from which our great city is built, and brought about by the dedicated work of the Bradford WW1 Group and the generous donations of people from across our district.”