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WW1 Photos Centenary Website: 2014-2018 By Paul Reed

Somme: A Liverpool Pal Remembers The Somme

With the Somme anniversary taking place last weekend, the Somme theme continues this week with an unusual post on Great War Photos; an image and an audio clip of a Great War veteran talking about the Somme.

The Liverpool Pals were formed in Liverpool in September 1914 as Lord Derby’s own ‘private army’ until they were taken over by the War Office. They recruited widely across the city reflecting it’s varied social nature in a way that no other formation did between 1914 and 1918. The battalions wore their own special badge, seen in this photo of them in training in 1915, which following the Derby family’s coat of arms – officially they were part of the King’s Liverpool Regiment. The Pals crossed to France in 1915 and served with the 30th Division in the quiet months on the Somme front before going into action on 1st July 1916 in the attack on Montauban. One of their battalions was on the extreme right flank of the British Army on the Somme and went over linking arms with their French comrades. The battalions achieved all their objectives on the first – some of the few who did – but a few weeks later lost heavily in the fighting for Guillemont. While the number of original Pals dwindled with each passing month, the battalions continued to serve until the end of the war.

One of the original Liverpool Pals was E.G. Williams. A student interested in art and watercolour painting, Williams joined the Pals in 1914 and fought with them on the Somme, later being taken prisoner in 1918. He was one of several hundred Great War veterans I interviewed in the 1980s and this recording dates from that period, here talking about the 1st July 1916. In the clip he refers to a painting, one for more than 20 he did during the war, which he later donated to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

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9 responses

  1. Pingback: Pals at the Somme « ww1ha

  2. Daniel Eastwood

    Fantastic to hear a clear, lucid voice about that battle described so recently. Mr Williams has a voice that brings the people in the Great War closer to today’s age. It’s too easily forgotten. The Somme must have been hell – no other way to describe it.

    26/09/2012 at 11:12

    • sommecourt

      The recording was done back in the 80s when there were many more Great War veterans alive and they were much more lucid than in the final years. Glad it was of interest.

      26/09/2012 at 11:31

  3. norma laurence

    Amazing to hear this man’s experience of WW1. My Grandfather was with 5th Btln King’s Regiment Liverpool and fought on the Western front. Sadly I never met him. By the way are there any photographic records of this Liverpool Regiment?

    12/10/2012 at 16:22

    • sommecourt

      The 5th were a Territorial Battalion. I believe the Liverpool archives have some images?

      12/10/2012 at 16:43

      • norma laurence

        Many thanks for that. I will give them a try.

        12/10/2012 at 16:45

  4. Thanks for posting the recording. It is just wonderful to hear these men. Understanding their thoughts at the Western Front is easier to appreciate when we hear their tone and voice.

    The IWM site has some others that are free to use such as Pt. Albert Hurst who was with 17th Manchesters and also part of the 30th Division Montauban assault with E. G. Williams and his KLR Pals. My Grandad’s recording was made by BBC and I had to pay for the recording. The transcript is included here http://17thmanchesters.wordpress.com/about/

    18/05/2013 at 17:54

  5. Pingback: Somme: A Liverpool Pal Remembers The Somme | 17th Manchester Regiment on the Somme

  6. Trevor Lynes

    My father William James Lynes was with the 20th battalion, was badly wounded and captured. He was exchanged through Switzerland in 1917 and discharged.

    06/06/2015 at 23:24

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