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Thread: Liverpool Pals

  1. #1

    Default Liverpool Pals

    A regiment of pals
    By Paul Coslett

    How office clerks, messenger boys, and factory workers came together to form the Liverpool Pals, fighting and dying side by side in World War I.


    The Liverpool Pals parade at Knowsley Hall
    At the start of World War I a surge of patriotic fervour saw thousands of men volunteer for service in the armed forces, in Liverpool this was particularly strong with colleagues from the city?s offices and factories signing up together to form what became known as the Liverpool Pals.

    The concept of tight knit volunteer battalions of men from local workplaces was led in Liverpool by Lord Derby who was nicknamed ?England?s best recruiting sergeant?.

    Within weeks of the announcement of war, Lord Derby, put forward the idea of a battalion drawn from the Liverpool business workforce, and even wrote to employers asking that they encourage their employees to enlist.

    Volunteers were asked to turn up at The Kings Regiment Liverpool HQ in St Anne Street at 7.30pm on 28 August, 1914.

    The sheer number of men who turned up overwhelmed the recruiting hall, and extra rooms had to be opened to deal with all the men who wanted to enlist, already there were enough to form more than one battalion.



    Digging Derby's clay
    Lord Derby mounted a platform and addressed the crowd, for the first time using the term ?Pals? to describe the new battalion "I am not going to make you a speech of heroics?, he said.

    "You have given me your answer, and I can telegraph to Lord Kitchener tonight to say that our second battalion is formed.


    Liverpool Pals on St George's Plateau
    "This should be a Battalion of Pals, a battalion in which friends from the same office will fight shoulder to shoulder for the honour of Britain and the credit of Liverpool.

    "I don?t attempt to minimise to you the hardships you will suffer, the risks you will run.

    "I don?t ask you to uphold Liverpool?s honour, it would be an insult to think that you could do anything but that.

    "But I do thank you from the bottom of my heart for coming here tonight and showing what is the spirit of Liverpool, a spirit that ought to spread through every city and every town in the kingdom."

    On 31 August, 1914 recruits packed on to St George?s Plateau in Lime Street, the men were drawn from the major businesses and offices across the city from The Cotton Association and Corn Trade Association to The Cunard Line and Bank and Insurance offices.

    By 5 September, just over a week after his original call to arms, Lord Derby had 3000 men enlisted, enough for three battalions, by November there were four.

    These troops were officially the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th Service Battalions of the King?s, but known as the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Pals.

    The troops now had to be found accommodation and begin military training, initially this responsibility was to fall on the city of Liverpool

    Makeshift barracks were created at an old watch factory in Prescot, in tents on Hooton Racecourse, in homes near Sefton Park and ultimately in hastily constructed wooden huts in the grounds of Lord Derby?s Knowsley estate.

    "This war is only going to come to an end by killing Germans"
    Lord DerbyThe initial training took place amid a lack of rifles and other equipment and in a preparation for the trench warfare that was to come, a great deal of time was spent digging trenches on Lord Derby?s land, this work in the depths of winter made a lasting impression on the troops, fifty years later at Pals reunion, the song called Derby?s Clay written to the tune of Moonlight Bay was still being sung.

    By April 1915 the Pals had been formed in to the 89th Infantry Brigade and eventually the troops progressed on to training at Larkhill camp on Salisbury Plain, a traditional precursor to embarkation.

    On 31 October, 1915, it was announced that the Pals would be leaving for France and in a letter to his brother Lord Derby gave his view on how the war could be won, ?This war is only going to come to an end by killing Germans, and I am perfectly certain that at that game, the 89th Brigade will more than hold their own.?

    The Pals would go on to fight in some of the most costly battles of World War I, taking part in the ?big push? at the Somme in 1916.

    Almost 200 Liverpool Pals were killed going ?over the top? on 1 July, 1916, over 300 more were wounded, captured or recorded as missing.

    Of the four original Pals Battalions who sailed to France in November 1915, twenty per cent would be dead by 1919, if the figures of wounded and those transferred to other units are included the casualty figure is closer to seventy five per cent.

    Private W B Owens, who would be killed in July 1916, wrote home as the troops departed summing up the feelings of many of the Liverpool Pals, "Well we?re away at last and ?tho no one feels that it?s a solemn occasion to be in England for perhaps the last time, I think that the predominant feeling in every chap?s heart ? in mine at any rate ? is one of pride and great content at being chosen to fight and endure for our dear ones and the old country."

  2. #2
    Senior Member edwardo's Avatar
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    The poor bugers did not know what was ahead of them.my dad beeing one of them.

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    Pablo42 pablo42's Avatar
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    Nice one Jimmy. The losses these Pals Regiments sufered were horrendous. Sometimes, everyone you knew would disappear on the same day. They will never do this again.

  4. #4

    Default pals

    Quote Originally Posted by edwardo View Post
    The poor bugers did not know what was ahead of them.my dad beeing one of them.
    Thanks for that Jimmy, a good read, lest we forget.

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    Senior Member suzi's Avatar
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    My Grandad was with the liverpool pals

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    Senior Member RonnieW's Avatar
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    My great-grandad was in the Liverpool Pals. Survived the Somme, but killed in the Ypres Salient later that year. I've seen his grave.He was 39 and left a wife and six kids.

    http://www.cwgc.org/search/casualty_...asualty=149751

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    Senior Member suzi's Avatar
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    Sorry to hear that Ronnie W

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    Senior Member RonnieW's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by suzi View Post
    Sorry to hear that Ronnie W
    His wife survived him for 57 years! In the next war (the one after the War to End Wars) she was bombed out and ended up in Beaumont Street before moving to the prefabs in Gateacre. People then just seemed to get on with life. No counselling, and none of the kids ever ended up on the wrong side of the law. I admire that generation.

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    Senior Member Norm NZ's Avatar
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    People then just seemed to get on with life. No counselling, and none of the kids ever ended up on the wrong side of the law. I admire that generation.

    Too True! RonnieW, And they were never appreciated!!

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    Senior Member suzi's Avatar
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    Ooops, my great grandfather.

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    Senior Member RonnieW's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Norm NZ View Post
    People then just seemed to get on with life. No counselling, and none of the kids ever ended up on the wrong side of the law. I admire that generation.

    Too True! RonnieW, And they were never appreciated!!
    They certainly weren't. They were only awarded a War Widows Pension once most of them had passed away.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by RonnieW View Post
    My great-grandad was in the Liverpool Pals. Survived the Somme, but killed in the Ypres Salient later that year. I've seen his grave.He was 39 and left a wife and six kids.

    http://www.cwgc.org/search/casualty_...asualty=149751
    Hi Ronnie

    The Soldiers that died disc have him as

    Joseph Tague

    Born, enlisted and resided in Liverpool.

    Have you researched him?
    BE NICE......................OR ELSE

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    Senior Member RonnieW's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spike View Post
    Hi Ronnie

    The Soldiers that died disc have him as

    Joseph Tague

    Born, enlisted and resided in Liverpool.

    Have you researched him?
    No. I've got a copy of the 1911 Census return, but there is only one photo of him in the family, which was taken after he joined up. He took part in the 1911 strike, as he worked for the Corporation Street Lighting Dept. There's not much to go on because when the house was destroyed in 1940, most of the family photos and papers were burned. His dad was from Ireland, but I don't know which part.

  14. #14

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    Have you checked for him in other census records. 1901, 1891, 1881? Do you know who his parents where? where he lived?

    If not I can look for you.

    Just checked the service records but his have not survived sorry. Only 10% have due to WW2 bombing.
    BE NICE......................OR ELSE

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    Senior Member RonnieW's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spike View Post
    Have you checked for him in other census records. 1901, 1891, 1881? Do you know who his parents where? where he lived?

    If not I can look for you.

    Just checked the service records but his have not survived sorry. Only 10% have due to WW2 bombing.
    To be honest, I wouldn't know where to start looking for that sort of stuff. My grandma, his daughter, told me a neighbour had recieved a letter from her son saying he had seen Joe Tague being carried up the line after being shot in the neck. The neigbour went around to my great-grandma's house with the news and within a few days the telegram arrived confirming him as having died of wounds. When I visited his grave in 1984, the retired Major who was the guide said as the cemetery was near the site of a field hospital, most of those there had died of wounds. There were several German graves nearby.
    It was an interesting trip for me as not far away is the grave of Capt Chavasse. Noel Chavasse ran for Sefton Harriers, which I also was a member of in my youth, was a member of the RAMC TA, which I was in 1984, and his father christened my grandma (Joe's daughter) in St Luke's Church.
    It's very good of you to have looked for his records for me. Thanks mate.

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