A Brief History

1914 will remain a prominent date in world history due to the outbreak of the greatest war ever, The First World War. No country can expect to participate in war successfully without the contribution of volunteers. The First World War was no exception. Many new units evolved at the beginning of the war but it was to be Lord Kitchener’s ‘Calls to Arms’ that would help bring together many of the War raised, such as The 15th (service) Battalion (1st Leeds) The Prince of Wales’s Own (West Yorkshire Regiment), more famously known as the ‘Leeds Pals’ Lord Kitchener This idea accredited to the 17th Earl of Derby (Known as the "King of Lancashire"), was to supply the much needed soldiers required to fight the long and bloody campaigns that developed as the war progressed into a global conflict. It is a commonly reported fact that most people thought that it would be "over by Christmas". History now tells a different story. The general idea of a pals Battalion was that the volunteers would join and serve with friends, relatives, workmates and colleagues giving a feeling of comradeship that had never been seen before. Most major towns and cities along with Leeds raised pals battalions . To be accepted to these elite units the recruits were to pass certain requirements. Education and intelligence were considered paramount to being accepted in the majority of cases. It was not only businessmen, and local dignitaries however, that were recruited, Great Britain supplied its finest and for Leeds this meant several famous sports men also , Evelyn Lintott (later to be commissioned) a Leeds City and international half back footballer, along with Morris Flemming another footballer were considered a bonus to the Battalion. Yorkshire cricketers featured among the recruits who included Major Booth, Arthur Dolphin and Roy Kilner. Team sports did not offer the only possibilities but also athletes such as Albert Gutteridge and George Colcroft were eager to be a part of something so patriotic and unique that it may never be seen again.

By the 8th of September 1914 the Battalion had enlisted some 1,275 men after rejecting many on medical grounds. This number at the time was considered to be complete although the final number of ‘Leeds Pals’ eventually rose to approximately 2,000.

It would appear that each man chosen to be a pal had something to offer be it previous military experience, leadership qualities ,or physical prowess. A certain high standard had been set and each individual reached this although the average age was 20-21 years old. Training was to be rigorous and took place at Colsterdale on the Yorkshire Dales. Between September 1914 and May 1915. Colonel J Walter Stead was the CO of the Battalion and later replaced by Lieutenant-Colonel Stuart Campbell Taylor.

France was expected to be the pals first destination but this was not so. Early December 1915 saw the first group of pals set sail for Suez. Inevitably France was to be for many of the pals their final destination.

On March 1st 1916 the pals set sail for Marseilles as the Battle of the Somme became imminent. The battle was to prove tragic for the ‘Leeds Pals’. Twenty-four pal’s officers went over the top with their men on that fateful day, 1st July 1916. Lieut Major Booth the famous cricketer and Evelyn Lintott the footballer were just two of the many that were killed in action. Approximately 750 out of 900 involved in the Somme died.

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