Memorial to Leeds Pals receives listed status

The Memorial for the Leeds Pals at Colsterdale.''Picture by Simon Hulme
The Memorial for the Leeds Pals at Colsterdale.''Picture by Simon Hulme
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THEY were the friends who joined together to fight as one - and suffered unimaginable losses.

Now, a memorial to members of the Leeds Pals who were killed in one of the worst battles of the First World War is among 15 nationwide that have been protected or had their protection upgraded to mark 100 years since the start of the Battle of the Somme.

The inscription on the memorial.''Picture: Simon Hulme

The inscription on the memorial.''Picture: Simon Hulme

The first day of the battle, on July 1, 1916, is known as the worst day in the history of the British Army, with nearly 60,000 men, all volunteers, killed, wounded or listed as missing.

The campaign, which only ended 141 days later, saw more than 400,000 British casualties, and the scarred communities they left behind were determined to mark their loss, erecting memorials to the dead.

The Leeds Pals suffered incredible losses on the first day of the Battle, and their sacrifice is marked with a memorial at the place where they trained, Colsterdale Camp at Breary Banks, Healey, near Harrogate.

Tasked with attacking the German lines at the village of Serre, the Pals, or the 15th Battalion, as they were known, were decimated by artillery and machine gun fire.

Every officer was killed or wounded, with hundreds more dead. Just 47 soldiers were uninjured.

The memorial, built close to the site of the camp’s chapel, was opened on the 21st anniversary of the assembly of the Battalion at the camp in 1935.

It is now Grade II-listed by Historic England, meaning “every effort” will be made to preserve it for the future.

Harrogate mayor, Coun Nick Brown, said: “At the Battle of the Somme, the Leeds Pals made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of freedom. It is important that we remember those who lost their lives, especially within the communities in which they lived.

“These memorials are a poignant symbol of their bravery and their listing will ensure those who lost their lives will forever be in our thoughts”.

On Friday, at 11am, people will gather at the memorial to pay tribute to the Leeds Pals lost at the Somme.

- The tall, tapered pylon sits at Breary Banks, where hundreds of Leeds Pals trained for battle.

A bronze plaque, decorated with York roses and the City of Leeds coat of arms is inscribed: “This cairn was erected by the survivors, relatives and friends of the 15th Batt. West Yorkshire Regiment (Leeds Pals) to mark the site of the first camp and is dedicated to all who served in the Battalion.”