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The Great War
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Pals Battalions
Peter Simkins
"One of the figures in Britain that did anticipate a long war was Field Marshall Lord Kitchener.

"He was appointed, slightly against his will, Secretary of State for War at the outbreak of war. Kitchener tapped into this mixture of local civic pride, national patriotism, a sense of belonging to a community. Once Kitchener tapped into this, in the end of August/beginning of September 1914, the British Army suddenly expanded almost overnight.

"The key to this was local effort, local civic pride, and the symbol of this in 1914, was the idea of the 'Pals' battalion.

"It's an idea attributed to one of the great peers and aristocrats of the northwest Lancashire area, Lord Derby. Around about the 26th-27th of August, it was announced in Liverpool, the great city on the River Mercey, that Lord Derby was going to try and raise a battalion of pals.

"By this he meant that he thought the battalion could be raised of local lads who might be willing to join the army more readily if they knew they were going to serve, and eventually fight alongside, their friends. This idea caught on in Liverpool. Within a week or so, Liverpool had four Pals Battalions. They marched in groups into the center of Liverpool and enlisted together.

"Now, Lord Derby also had a big political influence in Manchester, and there is the kind of attitude, even in Britain today, that anything Liverpool can do, Manchester can do better. So Manchester decided also that they were going to raise Pals Battalions. Within a period of about three weeks, the great industrial cities and towns of the North of England were all raising units on a local level. By the end of 1914, there were well over a hundred of these Pals battalions from all sorts of places, mostly in the north and Scotland."

 
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