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24 September 2014
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Remembering the Bradford Pals
Horace Iles's grave
The grave of Private Horace Iles who died on July 1st 1916, aged only 16

In the middle of World War 1, on July 1st 1916, 2000 young men from Bradford left their trenches in Northern France to advance across no man's land. It was the first hour of the first day of the battle of the Somme.

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POPPIES

Scarlet poppies grow naturally in conditions of disturbed earth.

The significance of the poppy as a lasting memorial symbol to the fallen was realised by the Canadian surgeon John McCrae in his poem In Flanders Fields.

The poppy quickly became a lasting memorial to those who died in the First World War and later conflicts.

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These Bradford men formed the 16th and 18th battalions of the West Yorkshire Regiment, the Bradford Pals.

The objective of their attack was the village of Serre where they had been told there would be little resistance. Instead they were met by fire from German machine guns. By the end of the first hour of the battle, 1770 men from Bradford were casualties and no ground had been gained.

In common with other Northern towns, when war broke out in 1914, friends and work mates in Bradford had rushed to enlist together to form Pals battalions.

July 1st 1916 is still the most disastrous single day ever experienced by the British army. The full extent of the tragedy was brought home to Bradford in the following days as the lists of casualties, accompanied by passport-style photographs of the dead, appeared in local newspapers.

In 1974 a BBC North crew accompanied some of the surviving Bradford Pals on what was to be their last trip back to the Somme. Click on the 'more' button below to see some of their memories.

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