Chorley Pals set off for war 100 years ago

Pals walk to station 23rd February 2015

On Tuesday 23rd February 1915, the Chorley Pals paraded in the Drill Hall on Devonshire Road at around 11.00am for a private civic send off.

At the ceremony, an Old English Sheepdog was presented to the Pals as a mascot by local businessman Mr R.E. Stanton.

Major Milton immediately named it ‘Ned’ after its benefactor, and promised (on behalf of the Company) to be “kind to the pet”; he then charged Lt Rigby with looking after the new member of the Chorley Company.

Major Milton (a local Solicitor and member of Chorley Town Council) then called for ‘three cheers’ for the Mayor and Corporation of Chorley.

At 11.20am, with Ned and Lt Rigby in the lead, the Chorley Pals set off for the railway station to the music of the North Lancs. (Chorley) Band.

With a thick covering of snow on the ground, they set off via Hamilton Road to Pall Mall, turning on to Market Street and then into Chapel Street up to the station.

Despite the cold weather, crowds lined both sides of the route.

At the station, another large crowd (including the Mayor and local children excused school) watched as the soldiers waited on the platform and listened to the men singing songs.

Their train to Caernarvon arrived at 11.50am, and five minutes later, to cheering from the crowd and the strains of Auld Lang Syne, the Chorley Pals left the town to go to war – and into history, being part of the well known ‘Accrington Pals’ battalion.

Of the original 221 ‘Pals’ who enlisted in Chorley between September 1914 and June 1915, 46 died whilst serving in the Company during the war, 12 died serving in other Battalions or Regiments, whilst two died shortly after the war either from sickness or their wounds.

Of those 175 Chorley men who were in the front line trenches at Serre on the morning of the 1st July 1916, 34 were killed or died of their wounds, whilst a further 59 were wounded.

Many who survived bore the physical and mental scars of war for the rest of their lives.