Last month Cllr Abdul Khan, Mayor of Hyndburn, accepted the honour to visit France to assist with the unveiling of a new access track to the Sheffield Memorial Park and attend a commemorative service at the Accrington Pals Memorial.
Taking the Dunkirk Ferry to Cambrai representatives travelled to Serre Lez Puisieux, where the Accrington Pals, Barnsley Pals and Sheffield Pals Battalions were stationed for the start of the Battle of The Somme, July 1st 1916.
Cllr Abdul Khan, Mayor of Hyndburn said:
“It was an honour to assist the Lord Mayor of Sheffield in opening the new 800 metre access track to the memorial park which holds a monument to each of the Pals Battalions. We held a commemorative service and Mayor’s from each town laid a wreath in remembrance for the sacrifice made by so many.”
As part of the trip Mayor’s visited the Queen’s Cemetery, where a solider from The Accrington Pals Battalion is laid to rest and Thiepval Memorial, where names are inscribed of British and Commonwealth soldiers with no known grave.
“Especially moving was our visit to the ‘memory ring’ memorial at the largest French military cemetery. On this memorial 579,606 names are inscribed, people from all nationalities who list their lives during the First World War in Nord Pas De Calais.”
The two-day visit also saw representatives attend ‘Y-Farm Cemetery’, where 15 soldiers were reburied in October 2014, 100 years after their death following the discovery of their bodies in 2006 at the crossroads in Radinghem. These soldiers were from the York and Lancaster Regiment and 11 of the 15 soldiers have been identified with descendants present at the reburial service.
“I am incredibly proud to have represented Hyndburn on this visit to France. The Accrington Pals are part of the fabric of our history and heritage, their sacrifice shaped our community, we will remember them.”
A replica of the Serre Accrington Pals Monument can be found in Haworth Park, Accrington, and is open for the public to visit to pay their respects. The monument was funded through the Heritage Lottery Fun’s First World War ‘then and now’ programme and alongside offering an area of quiet reflection, also hosts information boards for people to learn more.