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Fury at threat to the Pals’ memory

THE last living link to the Accrington Pals is under fire as part of Government plans.

THE last living link to the Accrington Pals is under fire as part of Government plans.

The legendary Pals were part of the illustrious Queen's Lancashire Regiment (QLR), which was awarded the Freedom of the Borough of Hyndburn in 2001.

But the regiment is facing the chop in its current form after Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon announced bombshell cost-cutting plans on Wednesday.

The Ministry of Defence wants to merge the QLR and 18 other infantry regiments into multi-battalion regional regiments.

It is unknown exactly what would become of the QLR but one strong possibility would be to merge it with soldiers from Cumbria to form the Queen's Lancashire and Cumbria Regiment.

The news has outraged Councillor Sandra Hayes, whose son is the current QLR Regimental Sergeant Major.

She said: "If this happens it will be a smack in the face for the people of Hyndburn. We are dismayed to think the QLR and with it the Accrington Pals will be swallowed up in a cost-cutting exercise."

"People throughout Hyndburn can identify with the regiment and the Pals. A heavy cost was paid in this area and Hyndburn recognised that fact by our recent monument dedicated to the Pals, who fought for our freedom."

Lieutenant Colonel John Downham, QLR regimental secretary, said fewer Hyndburn youngsters would be attracted to a life in the Army if they knew the legacy of the QLR and the Accrington Pals would not continue.

He said: "A very important part of tradition will be lost and future soldiers will be unable to look back and relate to their military forbears. The good stock of the QLR has been built up over 300 years and some idiots in the MoD want to cast that aside. We are going to launch a county-wide petition in the next few weeks to oppose this move."

Greg Pope, Hyndburn's MP, said the QLR was steeped in history and he would fight to ensure it survived without being diluted.

He said: "The QLR has more battle honours than any other regiment. It is inconceivable that a county the size and significance of Lancashire, with such a proud military heritage, should not have its own clearly identifiable regiment."

"To be fair though, I don't think the link with the Pals will be entirely lost."


Stuart Pike
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