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The Pompey Pals

21 January 2015

A talk by Chris Pennycook at The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre

Thursday 23 July at 7.45pm

At the outbreak of the First World War, Lord Kitchener, Secretary of Sate for War, took the view that overwhelming manpower would be the key to success; so he set about encouraging men of all classes to join the army. This was in contrast to centuries of military tradition, as Britain had always relied on a smaller but highly professional army, with officers drawn from the upper classes and other ranks from the working classes. General Sir Henry Rawlinson suggested that men would be more inclined to enlist if they would be serving alongside their friends and work colleagues.

The battalions thus formed became known as the “Pals’ Battalions”, and comprised men from the same workplaces, villages, churches and even football teams. Portsmouth formed not one but two Pals’ Battalions, with over 6500 men enlisting – many did so at Fratton Park.

Though formally called the 14th and 15th Battalions Hampshire Regiment, they were known locally as the 1st and 2nd Pompey Pals. They served with distinction in many of the famous battles on the Western Front, including Flers and Guillemont on the Somme and the Third Battle of Ypres. 1425 of them never returned.

Speaker Chris Pennycook is closely associated with the Pompey Pals Charity, which was originally set up in partnership with Portsmouth Football Club to produce a lasting memorial to the Portsmouth Battalions. It is now a 'stand alone' organisation which aims to commemorate all those men and women from the Portsmouth region who served in any capacity during the Great War.

The talk will take place in the Langstone Room at 7.45pm, and tickets cost £5. To book, please contact the Box Office on 023 9247 2700.