How a town grieved for its lost battalion of Pals

Cast of The Accrington Pals at the Grand Theatre, Lancaster.
Cast of The Accrington Pals at the Grand Theatre, Lancaster.
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On July 11 1916, an entire battalion of men from in and around the East Lancashire town of Accrington was wiped out at the Battle of the Somme.

The tragic tale of the Accrington Pals was turned into a story and a play by Peter Whelan in 1982.

This week, the Lancaster Footlights will bring the Accrington Pals back to the city stage.

The play portrays the lives of the women in the Accrington area and their men folk who volunteered to join the Pals, part of the East Lancashire Regiment.

The men were all from Accrington and District, as well as from the neighbouring towns of Burnley, Chorley and Blackburn.

Captain John Harwood, the local mayor, offered to raise a complete battalion for the First World War and when recruitment began on September 14 1914, 104 men were accepted in the first three hours.

Brothers, cousins, friends and workmates enlisted together and by September 24 1914, the full Accrington battalion had all but reached a full strength of 1,100 men.

The Accrington Pals was premiered at the Warehouse in London on 10 April 1981 by the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Directed by Alan Matthews, the Footlights version will be performed from October 14 to 18 in the Grand Theatre, nightly at 7.30pm.

Tickets are available by calling 01524 64695, visit the box office on St Leonardgate during opening hours or go to www.lancastergrand.co.uk