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Author of Pals book to host talk at Accrington Library

Steve Corbett created his book from the diaries of one of the few surviving Pals Pte Jack Smallshaw

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One of the few Accrington Pals who survived the Battle of the Somme, Private Jack Smallshaw

THE author of a new book about an Accrington Pal who survived the Battle of the Somme is set to shed some light on his story in a fascinating free talk.

Steve Corbett’s novel ‘An Accrington Pal’ tells the story of one of the few Pals who returned to the town, Private Jack Smallshaw.

Accrington-born Jack was one of the first young volunteers to enlist with the ‘Pals’ battalions that sprang up in Northern England during the autumn of 1914.

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Jack’s personal account of his Great War service was published in July by Helion and Company Ltd – coinciding with the Somme centenary.

Lancashire-born Steve has supplemented Private Smallshaw’s writings with his own extensive research – going through the war diaries and narrative accounts of the brigades and battalions which served with the 31st Division throughout the Great War to compile An Accrington Pal - The Diaries of Jack Smallshaw.

Cover of Steve Corbett's book An Accrington Pal based on the diaries of Accrington soldier Private Jack Smallshaw. Credit Helion & Company Ltd

Former gunner Steve, who completed two tours of duty in Northern Ireland in the 1970s, said: “I grew to know Jack quite well during the course of writing the book.

“Throughout the course of the war, I could trace the deterioration of his health, which was caused by long days and nights spent in appalling conditions while manning the frontline trenches.

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“I also went into considerable depth when covering some of the later engagements which the Accrington Pals were involved in, but the book is first and foremost about Jack.

“It is the story of how he survived four long years of fighting for his country.”

The reading event will take place at 11am on Thursday, September 1 on the first floor at Accrington Library, with Steve reading an extract from the book and introducing artefacts of the Great War.

There will be the opportunity to ask questions, and light refreshments will also be served.

Branch manager Katherine Walsh said: “Accrington Library is the home of the William Turner collection of photographs and artefacts which relate to the Accrington Pals – a subject that was of great interest to him and which he spent many years researching in order to tell their story.”

As an Accrington Pal, Private Jack Smallshaw was a member of the battalion of men who are perhaps remembered more than most, due to the appalling tragedy which would befall them on the killing fields of the Somme.