Bradford WW1 Group

The Group was started in the 1980s as an Interest Group for members of the Bradford Mechanics Institute.  We meet on the fourth Wednesday morning of each month beginning with coffee and biscuits at 10.00.  Visitors are made very welcome.  The convivial, welcoming atmosphere continues through the business agenda at 10.30 and lively discussion following a visiting speaker. The meeting ends at 12 noon.

Whilst members have particular enthusiasm for the role which Bradford and its citizens played, they also share an interest in all aspects of the Great War. This is reflected in the extremely wide range of topics covered by the programme of speakers.

An award from the Heritage Lottery has provided a digital projector, speakers and screen and several laptops for research. We also have a good stock of reference books about the Great War which are accessible in the Mechanics Institute Library and we were recently presented with the PD Lodge collection comprising Duncan Lodge’s research papers spanning the last 30 years.  At the heart of the collection are photographs and records of names on every war memorial and Roll of Honour in Bradford.  The collection is currently being archived but is available to researchers.

Active members

Members regularly undertake research. This is often on behalf of families wanting to trace the war service of an ancestor but can also concern individual campaigns, local battalions or regiments, or any aspect of the 1914-1918 period. In 2001 the Groups published ‘Messages’ based on the trench diary of a signaller in the 1/6th West Yorks. In 2007 a further book, ‘Bradford in the Great War‘ was published by Suttons.

Twelve members of the group enjoyed a walking exploration of Gallipoli in 2012 and a smaller number visited Verdun in September 2013. Members also report on their independent visits to WW1 battlefields in France and Belgium and even further afield. Our own coach trips are very popular and can include visits tailor-made to the wishes of individuals.

The Group maintains the memorial to the 16th and 18th Battalions, West Yorks (The Bradford Pals) at Hébuterne on the Somme. Members of the group also take part in the local ceremony for the West Yorkshire Regiments on 1 July and at Bradford Cenotaph and Undercliffe Cemetery on Remembrance Sunday and 11 November.

Memorials

The Bradford WW1 Group arranged the unveiling of a new memorial to the Bradford Pals at the French memorial Chapel, Serre Road on 19 November 2016. The Lord Mayor of Bradford, mayors of Hébuterne and Serre-lès-Puisieux and other Somme communes, a Deputy of the French Parliament, representatives of French veterans’ organisations and our own Royal British Legion standard bearer were supported by our coach party members and over 70 local French people.

The plaque to the Bradford Pals in the village of Hébuterne near Serre was installed by the WW1 Group in 2001 and marks close links between the village and our Bradford men. After the Battle of the Somme the Pals were deployed further north, only to return here at the close of the year. The winter of 1916-1917 was exceptionally harsh and the men were billeted in barns and a tented camp in extreme weather conditions. On 27 February 1917 the Pals were ordered to attack the nearby Rossignol Wood. Poor intelligence gathering failed to spot the German machine gun emplacement in the wood. The casualties amongst the Pals were very high and many of them now lie buried in Owl Trench Cemetery outside Hébuterne.

Research and Speaking Activities

Members undertake research and regularly give talks. Research is often on behalf of families wanting to trace the war service of an ancestor but can also concern individual campaigns, local battalions or regiments, or any aspect of the 1914-1918 period. Our speakers cover a wide range of topics in their talks and presentations.

The Commemorative display panels researched and written by members of the WW1 Group are available to local groups for exhibitions, with or without a speaker to ‘tell the story’.

Please contact us for any of these services.

Battlefield visits

Twelve members of the Group enjoyed a walking exploration of Gallipoli in 2012 and a smaller number visited Verdun in September 2013.

The Group also organised coach trips to France and Belgium in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

All our itineraries include visits requested by members of the party. These might be to cemeteries or memorials where family members are remembered or to specific battle sites. Details of the June 2017 visit are now available through the Contact page.

We are please to help in planning your visit to the Western Front.