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Honour for Accrington Pals' champion William Turner

Accrington Pals expert Bill Turner has been honoured for his life’s work with a plaque at the Pals church chapel. The world-renowned historian, who died in 2007 aged 76, is credited with bringing the story of the Pals’ heroism and sacrifice into the public consciousness.

Ruth Turner with the new Pals plaque

Accrington Pals expert Bill Turner has been honoured for his life’s work with a plaque at the Pals church chapel.

The world-renowned historian, who died in 2007 aged 76, is credited with bringing the story of the Pals’ heroism and sacrifice into the public consciousness.

His widow Ruth Turner was asked by representatives of St John’s Church in Accrington about a plaque after the church reopened in 2010 following three years of repairs.

Ruth, who was married to Bill for 55 years, said the plaque looks ‘beautiful’ and is delighted to see it on the wall of the Accrington Pals Chapel.

She said: “It’s taken a while but I am very, very pleased. It looks really nice.

“We hoped it would be ready for the Accrington Pals memorial service on February 29 but that wasn’t possible.

“I think Bill would have appreciated it if he was still here today.

“Bill was the last one to want recognition but I think he would be proud to see it on the wall.”

The plaque was unveiled at the church on Easter Sunday in the presence of Ruth and Rev John Binks.

It reads: “My peace I give unto you. In memory of William Turner, honorary Freeman of the Borough of Hyndburn, for all his work on behalf of the 11th Service Battalion East Lancashire Regiment (The Accrington Pals).”

Rev Binks said the plaque will provide a ‘lasting memory’ to Bill and his work.

He said: “We are more than happy to put a plaque up to Bill’s memory.

“He was so instrumental in the history of the Pals and keeping the memory going in the 21st century. It’s all too easy to forget these things.”

Bill undertook years of painstaking research and wrote three acclaimed books on the Pals.

He also compiled rolls of honour listing every member of the battalion who lost his life at the Battle of the Somme in the First World War and was instrumental in setting up the memorial garden in Church Street, Accrington.

He was made Freeman of the Borough in 2005. Roy Lockwood, of the Church and Oswaldtwistle branch of the Royal British Legion, said the plaque was a ‘brilliant idea’.

He added: “We don’t recognise heroes  much in Accrington.

“I think it’s a great idea as he spent a lot of his life campaigning for something that would have been forgotten if it wasn’t for him.

“I don’t think there’s anyone who would disagree.”           

 
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