Preview: Our Dear Pals and the Great War Exhibition in Accrington

12:43pm Thursday 8th July 2010

By Emma Cruces

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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