Remembrance Sunday - the Pals Battalions of Lancashire

PUBLISHED: 14:13 10 November 2012 | UPDATED: 22:19 20 February 2013

Remembrance Sunday - the Pals Battalions of Lancashire

Remembrance Sunday - the Pals Battalions of Lancashire

For almost 90 years he has stood sentry over Clitheroe, his head bowed in respectful remembrance of fallen comrades.

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For almost 90 years he has stood sentry over Clitheroe, his head bowed in respectful remembrance of fallen comrades.

The memorial, which stands near the castle, remembers the 324 lives lost in World War One and the 74 who died in World War Two.

In communities across Lancashire, Pals Battalions were formed - a phrase first used by Lord Derby of Knowsley Hall as he rallied the first four such battalions in Liverpool.

Other towns and villages soon folowed, and there was even a sense of pride in having more Pals Battalions than a neighbouring town. Among the most famous were the Accrington Pals, made up of more than 1,000 men recruited in just ten days.

On the first day of the battle of the Somme 720 men from the Accrington regiment were involved - 584 of them were killed.

Towns across the county and the country suffered similar devastating losses and in the years after the Great War there was a nationwide call for public demonstrations of remembrance.


Memorials such as this one at Clitheroe began to appear in towns and cities, villages and hamlets the length and breadth of the country.

The park surrounding Clitheroes castle was declared a memorial to the war dead in 1920 and the statue of the soldier was added three years later.

And even now, more than six decades after the end of World War Two, the statue remains a poignant reminder of loss. It will be the focal point of this months acts of remembrance as poppy wreaths are laid in memory of the dead from two world wars and more recent conflicts.

The First World War guns fell silent at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918 and the following year that date was chosen to commemorate the dead.

Poppies grew on the battlefields and graveyards of France and Belgium and a doctor, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrea, who was treating injured soldiers in France, wrote a poem which began: In Flanders fields the poppies blow, Between the crosses, row on row. American Moina Michael was so moved by his poem that she decided to wear a red poppy as a way of keeping faith.

Michael worked for the American YMCA and she discussed the poem at a meeting of YMCA secretaries from other countries in November 1918. Madame Guerin, the French YMCA secretary, approached organisations throughout the allied nations to sell poppies to raise money for widows, orphans and needy veterans and their families.

Poppies were a poignant symbol for remembrance for many reasons. They were the only flowers to grow easily on the battlefields after World War One. They are very delicate flowers too, which only live for a short time, rather like the young men killed in battle. Soldiers would say that the poppies were vivid red because they had been nurtured in ground drenched with the blood of their comrades.

The striking photographs on these pages are by Mark Robinson. To see more of his work go online to www.pbase.com/mark_robinson/downham.

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