Title - The Accrington Pals Memorial Chapel

St. John's Church, Accrington, 13k

On 21st February 1915 - two days before the Accrington Pals left their home towns for Caernarvon - a valedictory service was held at St. John's Church. In addition to the 700 officers and men from the battalion who were present, a large congregation filled even the aisles. The Accrington Observer & Times reported "an added solemnity by virtue of the occasion, and the hymns were sung with fine fervency and devoutness." Major G. N. Slinger - at that time 2nd-in-command of the battalion - read the lesson "with resonant vigour" and the Vicar, the Revd. J. W. Wilkinson, preached the sermon, in which he made an impassioned appeal for the soldiers to live up to the fair name and reputation of Accrington.

Left: St. John's Church, Accrington

Throughout the Pals' history, the town had good cause to be proud of its own battalion. And yet, with the War over, Accrington Town Council showed little interest in dedicating a memorial to its memory.

It was the continued absence of a single memorial to the Pals more than 70 years later that prompted the Revd. Dennis Crook to set under way the creation of a memorial chapel in his church of St. John's. The chapel was dedicated on 23rd February 1992 and today provides a tranquil setting not just for remembrance of the Pals but also for smaller Eucharistic services and morning and evening prayer.

A Book of Remembrance commemorates all those from the area who fell in the War. Plaques and banners represent the seven infantry regiments of Lancashire as well as the York and Lancaster Regiment, the 12th, 13th and 14th Battalions of which fought alongside the Pals at Serre.

Right: The Accrington Pals Memorial Chapel in St. John's Church, Accrington

Accrington Pals Memorial Chapel, 20k

The Battalion's Drum, 21k Particularly evocative of the Pals' history is the battalion's drum which, after the War, was presented to the commanding officer, Lt. Col. A. W. Rickman. The drum passed from father to son and was most generously returned to Accrington by Major Gerry Rickman.

Left: The 11th East Lancashires' drum, presented to the chapel by Major Gerry Rickman on 23rd February 1992

An annual service in memory of the Pals is normally held at St. John's Church on the Sunday nearest to the 21st February.

Photographs © Alyson and Andrew Jackson 1999

Top | Accrington Pals | Site Map