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Andrew Jackson's new history tells the story of the Great War as it was experienced by the men of the 11th Battalion, East Lancashire Regiment (Accrington Pals), the 158th (Accrington and Burnley) Brigade, Royal Field Artillery (Howitzers) and their families. Using information gathered from years of painstaking research in national and local archives and in private collections, he reconstructs, in vivid detail, the role played by these men on the Western Front.
His book, which draws extensively on diaries, memoirs and letters, follows both infantry and artillerymen into the bloodiest battles of the war to give a graphic close-up view of their experiences. It is a moving record of the wartime service of a select group of local men during a time of unprecedented conflict.
While histories of the 11th Battalion have been published before, that of the second Pals unit founded and raised by Accrington's mayor John Harwood has never been told in print. The stories of the two units come together to represent British forces in all the major campaigns on the Western Front: the Somme, Arras, Messines, Passchendaele, the German offensives of 1918 and the final advance to victory.
As Andrew Jackson tracks the movements of these men from their homes and then from one field of conflict to another, he gives a keen insight into their wartime lives and concerns. His book will be fascinating reading for anyone who is interested in the Great War, and for those who have a personal or family connection with Accrington and the neighbouring districts.
As featured in the Accrington Observer.
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