THE memory of the Pals never died, of course, in the minds of families and friends. In recent years, however, particularly since the publication of William Turner's books, there has been a revival of interest.
This can be said to have started when the vicar of St John the Evangelist, the Rev Dennis Crook, commissioned the design and construction of the Pals Chapel in the North Transept.
The late Clifford Collinson, a church member, helped to raise the £30,000 needed. The chapel was dedicated on 23 February 1992 and an annual commemorative service has been held on the third Sunday in February ever since.
The Pals Memorial at Serre, partly paid for by Great Harwood Toc H and public donations, was dedicated in September 1991. A BBC TV Songs of Praise programme resulted in more interest.
TV programme makers saw the Pals as an example of the fortitude and courage of the times. 'Lions Led by Donkeys' in 1990 and 'War Walks' by Richard Holmes in 1996 are but two received programmes. On radio, RTE 1 (Ireland) has broadcast a documentary and several recent history books e.g. 'Yesterday's Britain' featuring the Pals.
A Public Record Office educational pack on 1 July 1916, launched in 1996, tells the story of the Pals through documents of the time. These include the personal documents of Pte James Barnes of Rishton.
'The Accrington Pals' by Peter Whelan is a popular play, performed by amateur dramatic societies all over the country. Closer to home, pupils at Benjamin Hargreaves Primary School regularly study the Pals for their class projects.
Hyndburn Council, through the Tourist Office in Accrington, has a major interest in the Pals. A popular leaflet tells the Pals' story and gives other information. A commemorative plate is available for sale, as are postcards and books about the Pals. There is also a small permanent display of memorabilia in the Town Hall foyer.
There is an extensive collection of Pals material in the Local Studies room in Accrington Library. This includes the 'Pals Collection' of photographs, diaries, audio and video tapes and other items. Personal details of 851 Pals who died in the war are also held.
Library staff also maintain a file of posters, newspaper cuttings and theatre programmes for use in the production of the play. The Reference Library also holds information on all those who died in the war.
This continuing interest keeps the Pals, as representatives of all who served and died in the 1914-1918 and later wars, in the forefront of all our minds. It gives us all, particularly the younger generation, a sense of remembrance and pride in what our forefathers did.
They were "ordinary men" who did extraordinary things with extraordinary courage in the most terrible of wars. Our generation will never, can never, fully understand what they endured - or indeed why.