Commemoration events for Battle of The Somme and Oak Hill Memorial

On Friday 1st July people gathered in Accrington for two events, to remember those lost during the Battle of the Somme and to commemorate 100 years since the unveiling of the Cenotaph at Oak Hill Park.

Joined by the Royal British Legion, dignitaries and community representatives, Hyndburn came together to pay their respects and remember. The first ceremony took place at St James’ Church in Accrington with a short service and wreath laying to mark the anniversary of the first day of The Battle of the Somme, when on 1 July 1916, The Accrington Pals suffered severe losses and over 600 casualties.

The Accrington Pals are interweaved into the fabric of Hyndburn’s history, forming a battalion to fight in the First World War. After this fateful first day of the battle, the community was left shattered and all were touched with so many losing husbands, sons, brothers, uncles, friends and neighbours.

The second ceremony of the day took place at Oak Hill Park, a rededication of the War Memorial after 100 years. The stone obelisk and tablets hold the names of 865 fallen in World War I and 170 fallen from World War II were later added.

On the sixth anniversary of the Battle of The Somme, 1 July 1922, the Cenotaph was unveiled, and the first wreath laid by Captain Harwood, who raised the Accrington Pals Battalion when he was Mayor. Grandchildren of Lt-Col Arthur Rickman, who commanded the Pals, were in attendance at the event and invited to lay the first wreath as part of the rededication ceremony.

Leader of Hyndburn Council, Cllr Miles Parkinson OBE (pictured above), said:

“This important rededication ceremony honoured all those who fell in the First World War and in wars since. Lady Alexandra Winnington, grand-daughter of Lt-Col Arthur Rickman, was the first to lay a wreath at this service and was joined by her brother, Rory MacColl.

“On behalf of Hyndburn, I would like to thank them both for travelling to Accrington to take part in this poignant ceremony.”

(Pictured: Lady Alexandra Winnington)

The memorial stands at the highest point in Oak Hill Park and proudly overlooks Accrington, the centenary of the memorial was marked by a ceremony that all were invited to attend.

Current Deputy Mayor, Cllr Hurn, led the event by welcoming all attending. This welcome was followed by Hymns, Prayer, Wreath laying, National Anthem, a rededication, and blessing.

Deputy Mayor of Hyndburn, Councillor Terry Hurn, attended both events:

“It was an honour to be part of these two very important ceremonies and I was pleased to see so many members of the community attend. I would like to say thank you to everyone who made these events possible, especially to the Royal British Legion, East Lancashire Concert Band and Father Brown for the beautiful services.

“The sacrifice and bravery of the Accrington Pals, is part of our heritage and I am proud to see our community reflecting and honouring them.”

(Pictured below: Deputy Mayoress and Mayor of Hyndburn with Royal British Legion)