At the outbreak of World War One Lord Kitchener issued his plea for men to volunteer for the army. General Sir Henry Rawlinson suggested that men would be more inclined to volunteer if they were able to serve alongside their friends and workmates.
Across the country thousands of eager young men flocked to serve King & Country and before long battalions comprising of those who had enlisted together with the promise that they would serve together sprang up, the popular press of the time dubbed these Pals Battalions.
In August 1914 the Portsmouth Citizens Patriotic Recruiting Committee called upon all men in the city not already occupied in essential war work to form its own battalion. Formally known as the 14th & 15th (Portsmouth) Battalions Hampshire Regiment (a third battalion, the 16th was also formed this was a reserve battalion that was used to reinforce the other two) Like the other Pals battalions which formed Kitchener’s ‘New Army’ they saw action on the Western Front from the middle years of the war and would face a baptism of fire on the killing grounds of the Somme.
By the end of the war over 1400 of the Pompey Pals had made the ultimate sacrifice.
In partnership with the PST and Portsmouth Football Club, the Pompey Pals Memorial Project aims to remember not just the fallen of the battalions but all those that served, as well as the wider impact the Great War had on the city.
To mark the 100th anniversary of the start of WW1 on August 4th 2014 a memorial to the Pompey Pals will be unveiled outside Fratton Park, it is hoped that an identical memorial will be placed on the Somme in 2016 and a memorial to those Portsmouth men who fell during the Battle of Jutland also placed at Fratton Park in May 2016.
For more information on the project please visit www.pompeypals.org.uk.