THEY were among the first to form a battalion and fight during World War One.
And today a campaign to honour the Pompey Pals has reached its first major milestone with the unveiling of two new memorial boards.
The event, at the World War One Remembrance Centre at Fort Widley, marks the launch of a commemoration project almost 100 years after the outbreak of the conflict.
The aim is to remember thousands of men who fought in the two Pompey Pals battalions.
It is hoped that next year, a stone memorial can be placed at Portsmouth Football Club’s Fratton Park home to serve as a reminder of their sacrifice.
Bob Beech, 46, from Milton, who is co-ordinating the project, said: ‘What’s important to remember is that these guys weren’t trained soldiers, they were just regular people like you and me.
‘They wanted to get more people to join up, and at the time football was one of the only sports to continue, and they were looking for fit, young men.
‘So one of the recruiting stations was actually in Frogmore Road, which is the perfect site for a memorial to be placed.
‘It was fantastic to see the boards unveiled at Fort Widley to launch the project.
‘We’d really like it if anyone could come forward and help out with donations or to offer their stories of family members who were in the Pompey Pals.’
At the time, General Sir Henry Rawlinson suggested men would be more inclined to enlist in the Army if they knew they were going to serve alongside their friends and colleagues. To set an example, he appealed to a group of stockbrokers to raise a battalion of men from workers in the City on London.
Days later, Portsmouth formed the 14th (Service) Battalion (1st Portsmouth), followed a year later by 15th (Service) Battalion (2nd Portsmouth).
Both were formed by the city’s Lord Mayor as a response to the need for men to sign up and fight.
To help the campaign, you can e-mail email@example.com.