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The battle that changed the face of Accrington for ever: How the Observer reported the tragic events 100 years ago

In this archive we reveal how the Accrington Observer reported the events of the Somme and the fate of the Accrington Pals

July 1 is a date that will resonate in the hearts and minds of the people of Accrington for ever.

One hundred years ago, the whistle blew at 7.30am signalling to 720 men they should walk out into No Man’s Land in what became known as the Battle of the Somme.

In less than 20 minutes, it is believed that 303 Pals were dead.

Of the battalion, 584 were killed, wounded, or missing in action.

To mark the anniversary, the Observer today looks back at how we reported those awful events that devastated the population of the town for generations.

We are revisiting pages printed in the Observer in the weeks following the tragedy which show how news of devastating losses slowly trickled through to the people of the town as a result of heavy censorship by the war ministry.

Initial reports of military success at Serre were soon followed by stories of family after family receiving the news they dreaded above all else, that loved ones had fallen on the battlefield. Once the utter devastation of the Pals was comprehended, every town in Accrington is said to have drawn their blinds and the church bells at Christ Church tolled all day.

Due to the size and fragility of the Observer archive, we were unable to reprint the pages in a size that would allow our readers to read every word, but have instead highlighted key passages.

The archive can be read in full at Accrington Library.