Portsmouth to rally to pay tribute to the fallen heroes of the Battle of the Somme

TRIBUTES are set to be paid to the hundreds of men from Portsmouth killed in the First World War.

Thursday, 1st September 2016, 6:00 am
British troops negotiate a trench as they go forward in support of an attack on the village of Morval during the Battle of the Somme

On Saturday, a team from the Pompey Pals charity will be heading over to France to lay wreaths marking the 100th anniversary of the moment soldiers from the city were killed in the Battle of the Somme.

And at the same time in Portsmouth, tributes will be paid at Fratton Park, with members laying wreaths outside the stadium at 2pm.

Then, next Saturday, a major commemoration will take place in Guildhall Square to commemorate all the heroes from the city’s local regiments slaughtered in the brutal 141-day conflict.

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Bob Beech from the Pompey Pals said it was vital the city united to remember those who sacrificed themselves for the nation’s freedom.

He said: ‘More than 750 men from the Portsmouth area in two battalions lost their lives or were badly injured in the battle during September 1916.

‘The impact on the area was profound as it was on many towns and cities over the country who had pals regiments.’

The commemoration in the Guildhall begins at 10am on September 10 and is being staged by Pompey Pals.

At 10.50am the Royal British Legion and various armed forces’ associations will march into the square with a formal service beginning later at 11am.

Elsewhere in the square there will be a pop-up museum and live music from the Hampshire Constabulary Band and the Portsmouth Military Wives’ Choir.

Councillor Donna Jones, Portsmouth City Council’s leader, said: ‘Portsmouth played a key part in Britain’s success in World War One.

‘Thousands of men travelled from the city and risked their lives for the freedoms we have today. Without their courage, Britain would have been a very different place.’

Portsmouth had two pals battalions that served on the Western Front.

The 1st Pompey Pals, 14th Battalion Hampshire Regiment, went ‘over the top’ on September 3 north of Hamel on the River Ancre.

Of the 570 men who went into action that morning 457 became casualties.

The 2nd Pals went into battle on September 15 and were successful, with the help of tanks used for the first time in battle, in taking the town of Flers.

It was the biggest gain by British forces in the entire Somme battle up until that point but with 302 casualties to the battalion.