One Day, One Town, One Hundred Years On: Accrington and the Battle of the Somme

29 June 2016 | Hannah Clark

Working with IWM‘s digital memorial Lives of the First World War and Andrew Jackson, an Accrington historian who has traced the town’s war dead since the Seventies, The Telegraph has charted the legacy of the first day of the Battle of the Somme in one English town: Accrington.

© Paul Cooper

The project maps the homes of soldiers from Accrington who were killed or wounded on 1 July 1916 to tell their individual stories and to record the impact of the battle in the town. It has been launched digitally by The Telegraph with a visual representation of the losses suffered to mark the centenary of the first day of the battle.

In 1916, around 45,000 people lived in Accrington and when recruitment began 1,076 enlisted within the first ten days. When the men were sent over the top on the first day of the battle, Accrington suffered some of the highest losses of all battalions with 303 men losing their lives. 100 years on, the legacy is still being felt today.

Harry Bond was just one of the young men who fought on the first day of the battle, signing up five days after recruitment began. Just after dawn on Friday 1 July 2016, Harry’s nephew, Les Bond, will walk through Accrington along the streets where his uncle learnt to parade. At 7.20am, he will listen as a whistle is blown and the names of each of the Accrington men to fall in the Battle of the Somme is read in turn.

Find out more on The Telegraph’s website.