Remembering the Pompey Pals

One of the pictures on the Pompey Pals memorial at  Fort Widley
One of the pictures on the Pompey Pals memorial at Fort Widley
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Pompey fans will tomorrow honour the memory of servicemen and women who died for their country.

The act of remembrance before the home match against Exeter City will have a particular focus on the ‘Pompey Pals’ battalion, which was formed almost one hundred years ago.

Fans going to the game are being urged to arrive in good time for the pre-match ceremony which starts at 2.45pm.

Pompey Chairman Iain McInnes and Bob Beech, coordinator of the Pompey Pals Project, together with John Jenkins, a World War Two veteran and club employee, will lay a wreath in the centre circle, before a bugler sounds the Last Post, ahead of a minutes’ silence. There will also be a parade of veterans and cadets.

The new OneCom Big Screen will display a collection of historic World War One postcards and artefacts during the pause for silent reflection and there will be specially-designed commemorative programme, with articles and posters inside, produced for the game.

The remembrance centre is also putting on a display of World War One artefacts before the match in the Victory Lounge.

Iain McInnes, who invited the Pals’ project to be involved, said: “This will be a respectful and poignant occasion and we hope fans will get into the stadium early to participate.

“Portsmouth has a proud military tradition, not just with the navy, and I can’t think of a town or city up and down the country with more reason to honour those who have fought in conflicts.

“My grandfather was bayoneted at Ypres and survived, my father was on a frigate in two Russian Convoys and my father in law was one of the first ashore on the D-Day landings, so I have a strong family link with the occasion.”

Bob Beech said: “This is the home game nearest remembrance Sunday and we are really pleased to be able to highlight the role of the Pompey Pals.

“I am working with the club and the World War One Remembrance Centre at Fort Widley to produce a permanent memorial to the Pals, who were one of the first battalions of its type to form after the start of the Great War in 1914.

“These regiments are usually associated with northern towns, but Portsmouth has a significant role to play in telling their story and we are planning to mark the centenary of the battalion’s formation with a permanent memorial at Fratton Park.

“I am especially grateful to Charles and Sue Haskell from the centre who helped recruit the bugler, Mark Mitchell from the Hampshire Army Cadet Force Band, for the event.”