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Historian names all of the heroic Accrington Pals
5:00pm Monday 18th June 2012 in News
AN Accrington Pals historian has finished nearly three decades of work in uncovering the heroes of the Somme.
Walter Holmes says work he began in 1986 with fellow researcher Bill Turner is now complete, with 90 per cent of the Pals named.
The efforts undertaken by the pair to check and cross-reference original records mean sources of information on the Pals are now ‘exhausted’ with the most complete lists possible now finished.
The documents contain a list of the 1,698 Accrington townsmen and the wider 4,292 men of the 11th Battalion East Lancashire which the Pals regiment became.
The finished 398-page document means the identities of the men who enlisted in the regiment in September 1914 can be more fully honoured at celebrations being prepared for the centenery anniversary.
Wendy Dwyer, Accrington Civic Trust chairman and borough councillor, said the trust was keen to use Mr Holme’s work and expertise in preparations for their plans to honour the Pals.
Mr Holmes has also made arrangements with the Haworth Art Gallery to exhibit his findings of names and photographs during the centenery in September 2014. He is also planning a second exhibition at Oswaldtwistle Mills.
Mr Holmes began his research on the Pals in 1987 with Mr Turner, which resulted in latter’s acclaimed book, The Accrington Pals. Mr Holmes carried on the work following Mr Turner’s death in 2007, inputting parish records of churches, and typing up information from cemeteries and old newspapers. His research also included hours at the Public Record Office in Kew.
He said: “I thought I was finished about six months ago, but then I remembered I hadn’t yet included men who received silver war badges. These were given to the injured, sick and wounded to prevent people handing them the insult of a white feather for cowardice.
“I would say every source has now been explored. I wanted very much to carry on the work Bill started and I will be honouring the Pals in 2014 with exhibitions.”