Lord Kitchener, in order to increase the number of volunteers during the first world war, drove a campaign stating that those friends and family who joined up together would serve together. So whole streets, sports teams, groups of work mates signed on together and formed a new army comprising of ‘Service Battalions’ which soon became known as Pals Battalions. The flaw in the plan came about when the Pals were sent into battle on the 1st day of the Somme. Such was the slaughter that whole towns, mainly in the north of England were devastated, suddenly losing significant numbers of men folk. One such town was Bradford, West Yorkshire. My father’s Uncle Pvt Clement May survived the battle only to be killed shortly after, dying of wounds sustained by shell fire. This piece is in memory of all the Pals, and a reminder of the horror and futility of war.


In memory of Pvt C May. Died of wounds 13th November 1916

and all the fallen White Rose Pals


They heard the call of bugle and drums,

so to the colours flocked young and old.

Laughing and cheering as they were told

they’d be fighting alongside their chums.


The Songbirds sang on that one sunny Day,

when at 7.30am the whistles were blown,

and into Battle our brave Pals were thrown,

attacking Serre, the king’s enemy to slay.


For seven Days before the Guns did fire,

explosions and thunder igniting the Black,

then over the Top carrying Rifle and Pack,

but the wrong Shells had not cut the Wire.


To the slaughter walked Yorkshire’s sons,

in perfect lines up that long grassy slope,

passing the fallen, knowing there’s no hope,

bravely facing the Scythe of enemy guns.


They didn’t falter over ground stained red.

Our Barrage will win this” they had lied

so our young White Roses walked and died,

French soil soon smothered with our dead.


The cold grey northern land left to mourn,

so many widows and houses draped in black.

All knew a Man that would not be back

to see again the Town where they were born


One thought on “THE BRADFORD PALS

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