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  • "I cannot believe that there has been not one person who has commentated on this wonderful story. These are the faces of the people of Accrington and surrounding areas, who sadly, are no longer with us. Despite the fact that the Great War started nearly 100 years ago, these faces could be of any of our great grandfathers, or grandfathers... they are pictures of the young men who lined up to Volunteer for the Army, probably days after war was declared, in the hope that they could do something for their country. For the ones that actually made it back, the years after the war did not prove good for them, and I am reminded of the recipient of the VC from Burnley, one Thomas Whittam , who could not get back to the job he had previously with the Burnley Corporation. It is a tremendous opportunity to look upon the people who ' gave their today, for our tomorrows'. I have often said, that if there was a war on the same scale today, most of the young men of today, would go back to their mother country to avoid the fighting. Not able to take their black BMWs to the barracks, that is."
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Preview: Our Dear Pals and the Great War Exhibition in Accrington

Lancashire Telegraph: POIGNANT DISPLAY: Historians have worked painstakingly to piece together the histories of the ‘Greater Accrington’ troops and others, including nurses, who served in the First World War POIGNANT DISPLAY: Historians have worked painstakingly to piece together the histories of the ‘Greater Accrington’ troops and others, including nurses, who served in the First World War

AN EXHIBITION to remember those who served in the First World War will feature the names and faces of hundreds of ‘Greater Accrington’ heroes.

The 17-foot long display of more than 2,200 photographs is the result of years of meticulous research matching photographs to service records by war historians.

Unusually for records from this time, the Haworth Art Gallery exhibit now also features four women after rare photographs of war-time nurses were discovered.

The research is part of the ongoing campaign by Pals historian Walter Holmes to uncover as many of the 14,000 servicemen from Greater Accrington as he can.

He started the project with his late colleague Bill Turner 10 years ago. Mr Holmes said the recent addition of nurses from Clayton-le-Moors, mentioned in newspaper clippings, Ada Whittaker, of Queen Street, and volunteer aide Margaret Baron, 28, of Adelaide Street, was particularly satisfying.

Two other nurses, whose photographs were sent to him, are known only as Edith Woods and Miss Brodie.

He said: “Finding photos like these is like looking for hens’ teeth.

“Nurses would only have been featured in newspapers if they had died.

"The Clayton-le-Moors nurses, for example seem to have died in the 1918 flu epidemic and were buried in Clayton-le-Moors cemetery.”

He said the details of soldiers were easier to find as they were mentioned in newspapers for medals or in group photographs.

Accrington Library gave Mr Holmes access to all papers between 1914 and 1923 and a room to work in.

“For years I have been collecting all possible information on every man who took the King’s shilling and will carry on, checking through service and pension records.

“Researching the stories behind the photos is fascinating,” he said.

“John Edward Chippendale for example, whose landing in Gallipoli in 1915 was also a reunion with his brother Robert who had emigrated to Australia five years before.

"It is amazing that something like that could have brought them together again.”

* The Our Dear Pals and the Great War Exhibition is on display at the Haworth Art Gallery, Manchester Road, Baxenden. For details, call 233782.

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