The grandson of one of the few Accrington Pals to survive the Battle of the Somme travelled from the other side of the globe to be present at the centenary commemorations in Accrington.
Jeremy Havard is the grandson of George Edward Haynes, an Accrington Pal who enlisted after Kitchener’s call to arms for men across the country.
Jeremy, who is originally from South Africa but now lives in Australia, did not realise that his grandfather was one of the Pals until he began doing research in London.
Jeremy, who followed in his grandfather’s footsteps into the forces and completed a stint in the airforce, said: “My grandfather was an original Accrington Pal, but he wasn’t a local.
“He was from London and was with a theatre group who were visiting the town.
“He made friends with the locals and joined up in September 1914 under a false name when Kitchener called for Pals.”
George Haynes trained with the Accrington Pals battalion and was made a sergeant.
The Pals battalion was sent to the Suez canal and they were torpedoed in December 1915 before being sent to Northern France for the Somme offensive.
Jeremy said: “He was made a non-commissioned officer and was responsible for all the communications for the Pals. He was a little bit older than most of those that signed up, he was 22.
“He was a bit of a father figure to his men, and served with them during the Battle of the Somme.
“He was one of the very few survivors.”
George went on to join the 7th Battalion Hertfordshire Home Guard during World War Two.
Jeremy travelled more than 9,000 miles from Down Under to lay a wreath in honour of his grandfather Sgt George Haynes at the Civic Commemoration in Accrington on July 1.
Members of the armed forces, dignitaries, guests, descendants of the Pals and members of the public gathered at the Accrington Pals Memorial Garden on Church Street at 7am for a commemorative service.
Jeremy also read out George’s name at the roll call of every soldier to serve with the Accrington Pals, on Broadway in the town centre.
Jeremy added: “It was a very touching and poignant ceremony, sending us a message from the past that we can take to the future.
“We need to keep their memory alive.”