Trench restoration plan to mark war centenary

Memorial to Sheffield Pals, Serre, France
Memorial to Sheffield Pals, Serre, France
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World War One centenary commemorations are being drawn up in Sheffield, including a trip to the Somme and restoration of trenches at an old military training area on the edge of the city.

The anniversary of the start of the war and the battles of the Somme and Jutland will be marked by services at Sheffield Cathedral.

Colonel Geoffrey Norton, chairman of the trustees of the York and Lancaster Regimental Association

Colonel Geoffrey Norton, chairman of the trustees of the York and Lancaster Regimental Association

And officials from the cathedral and Sheffield Council are planning an education programme involving schools.

Thousands of men from Sheffield and other areas of South Yorkshire were killed in the conflict, including several hundred on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, where pals battalions from Sheffield and Barnsley fought.

Cathedral services will have an ‘emphasis on praying for peace’ and begin with a vigil on Saturday, August 2, next year, followed by a full service to mark 100 years since the start of the conflict on Sunday, August 3.

Other services will mark the Battle of Jutland on May 29, 2016, and two services to remember the Battle of the Somme, on July 1 and 3, 2016.

Action from the Battle of the Somme

Action from the Battle of the Somme

Col Geoffrey Norton, chairman of the trustees of the York and Lancaster Regimental Association, who is involved in organising the events, said: “Along with the Sheffield Pals – the 12th battalion of the York and Lancasters, we are also remembering men from the two Barnsley Pals and the Hallamshire and Rotherham Battalions.

“In addition to the services, a bid has been submitted for a grant to restore the remains of trenches at Redmires used by the Sheffield Pals - the City Battalion - for training.

“An application was previously made for £80,000 for the project which was refused but a revised application is now being made.

“In 2016, I am organising a trip for 100 people including civic dignitaries to the old Somme Battlefield, to see areas including the Sheffield Memorial Park at Serre.”

Col Norton added that there are proposals to involve people from Serre and Bapaume, a nearby town also on the Somme, which were rebuilt with financial contributions from people in Sheffield.

“We are hoping to involve schools from the towns,” he said.

A delegation of Germans was invited to the services at Sheffield Cathedral next year but has declined to attend.