Wreaths will be laid, led by the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, at a special ceremony next month to commemorate more than 750 men from the city and surrounding area who were killed or wounded at the Battle of the Somme 100 years ago.
Organised by the Pompey Pals charity, the public event will take place in Guildhall Square, Portsmouth on Saturday September 10, starting at 10am.
There will be a pop-up museum with a display organised by the charity and also music from the Hampshire Constabulary Band and the Portsmouth Military Wives’ Choir.
At 10.50am the Royal British Legion and various armed forces’ associations will march into the square and the formal part of the event will start at 11am, with speeches and the wreath-laying ceremony.
Bob Beech from the Pompey Pals explained the significance: “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.”
A pals regiment was formed when men from the same place were encouraged to sign up in the same fighting unit to promote solidarity and effectiveness.
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 making their objective of 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.