SLIDESHOW: Exhibition salutes the tragic Sheffield Pals

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A century ago, they set off from Sheffield - many barely more than boys - to a war from which many would never return.

Now some of the city soldiers who gave their lives for their country in World War One are being remembered in a special exhibition this month.

Imohen Clout and Judith roberts looking at the list of soldiers killed fro the Sheffield Pals Yorkand lancaster regiment service battalion on the first day of the Somme.

Imohen Clout and Judith roberts looking at the list of soldiers killed fro the Sheffield Pals Yorkand lancaster regiment service battalion on the first day of the Somme.

The rarely-seen parish war memorial from the former St Andrew’s Sharrow Church is on public display this month at St Andrew’s Psalter Lane Church in Sharrow.

It contains the names of 103 men who died in battle – including three sets of brothers from the area.

The memorial was dedicated on November 30, 1920, as Sheffield and the country came to terms with the appalling loss of life that had occurred during the conflict. Research into the heartbreaking stories of each of the men has been carried out by two of the church readers, Imogen Clout and Judith Roberts, and is also on show as part of the exhibition.

They have uncovered comprehensive details about almost all of the soldiers featured on the war memorial – including everything from their age, addresses and occupations to even their height and hair colour.

St Andrew's Church Psalter Ln Sheffield. The life stories of more than 100 soldiers from Sheffield who died in World War I have been researched for a special Remembrance weekend tribute. Imohen Clout and judith roberts with old parish memorial stones.

St Andrew's Church Psalter Ln Sheffield. The life stories of more than 100 soldiers from Sheffield who died in World War I have been researched for a special Remembrance weekend tribute. Imohen Clout and judith roberts with old parish memorial stones.

Many of the men were members of the famous Sheffield Pals and died as part of the slaughter at the Battle of the Somme.

Imogen Clout said carrying out the research had really brought home the tragedy of the war.

She said: “In most cases we have found out where they lived in the neighbourhood and who their families were, what they did for a living and how old they were when they joined up and they died.

“About a quarter of them were part of the famous Sheffield Pals, and were killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.”

Imogen added: “We have found details about all but six of them. It started from the centenary and we started about six weeks ago doing the research properly.

“Both Judith and I have subscriptions to websites like Ancestry.co.uk and we also got information through the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

“For me, one of the very interesting things was so many were members of the York and Lancashire regiment, known as the Sheffield Pals battalion. Twelve of them were killed on the first day of The Somme. You can see their ages and find out what they did. There were lots in the cutlery trade and people straight out of school.

“You can very often find out their heights from enlistment papers. For the most part, they were really tiny – 5ft 3 or 5ft 4.

“These were lads of 18, 19 and 20 and it is awful really. I was very touched by their youth and the details of their height. Some of the records even say what colour eyes and hair they had. The tallest man was 5ft 11.

“We have also found two photographs of people and quite a few newspaper reports.”

She said among those included on the war memorial were twins Eric and Henry Mountain – one of whom died at the Battle of the Somme and the other who was killed the following year, both at the age of 19.

The pair, who lived on Chelsea Road, Nether Edge, are among three sets of brothers included on the war memorial

Imogen said the records show one local road in particular, Langdon Street, Sharrow, suffered particularly heavily losses. “There are disproportionately more people from that street than any other on the war memorial,” she said.

The exhibition will remain in place at the church for the rest of the month.

The rarely-seen war memorial has not been on public display since the congregation moved churches in the 1990s.

Imogen said discussions will now take place on whether it will be possible to put it on permanent display. She said: “We brought our war memorial with us and there wasn’t a proper place to display it. It can’t go outside because of the marble it is made of. There isn’t an obvious place to put it.”

Imogen said postcards were sent to people who lived in the houses where the soldiers had lived, with some of them coming to visit the exhibition. She said one lady who lived in the same house as the Mountain twins on Chelsea Road is among those who have attended.

“She was very moved by the story and was pleased we had told her,” she said.

Imogen added: “It is interesting how people connect with the soldiers.

“Things like how tall they were – it is those sort of details that do bring it home.”

High casualties among Pals Battalions

The Sheffield Pals suffered horrendous losses during World War I – with hundreds of local volunteers who signed up to fight dying at the Battle of the Somme.

Its original name was the Sheffield University and City Special Battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment, but soon became formally known as The Sheffield City 12th (Service) Battalion.

The regiment was formed in autumn 1914 as part of a recruitment drive by the War Office following the outbreak of hostilities.

A total of 1,131 men joined the Sheffield Pals, with patriotic passion at the time attracting many to the idea of fighting alongside men from similar trades, professions and backgrounds. After training, the inexperienced Sheffield Pals were part of the infamous Battle of the Somme in 1916.

Almost half of the Pals were killed at the Somme as they tried to reach the village of Serre while under heavy fire from the Germans.

The battle began on July 1, 1916, and by July 3, when the remnants of the battalion were taken out of the line, 513 officers and men were killed, missing or wounded, with a further 75 having slight injuries.

The battalion’s war continued with new men, but during the harsh winter of 1916-17, almost 900 of them had to be evacuated to hospital.

The Pals went on to suffer hundreds more casualties during the war and the regiment was forced to disband in the early weeks of 1918.