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Sheffield University, Sheffield: The Pals' Battalion

Two years in the making. Ten minutes in the destroying.

Many of the soldiers who joined the Sheffield City Battalion were killed in France. Hundreds died on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

The battalion was formed in September 1914 on the suggestion of two students at the University of Sheffield and recruitment at the city's Corn Exchange was rapidly organised by the Vice Chancellor. Patriotic passion was at fever pitch and within two days 1,000 men had joined up.

Formally known as the 12th Battalion Yorks and Lancaster Regiment, the Sheffield Pals became local celebrities, with crowds cheering as they marched out of the city to Redmires to train through a harsh winter. They were sent off to Egypt in December 1915 before heading to France.

On the first day of action, 512 men in the Sheffield Pals died and many of the bodies that fell would later be carved on the Memorial to the Missing at Thiepval.

One survivor John Harris later wrote "Two years in the making. Ten minutes in the destroying. That was our history."

Location: Sheffield University, Sheffield S10 2TN
Image courtesy of Sheffield Archive and Local Studies
Presented by Kate Linderholm

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