THE story of the Liverpool Pals is to be retold in this summer's giants spectacular in Liverpool.
And for the first time in its 21 year history, the Nantes-based comapny behind it is enlisting men, 120 of them, to play a central part.
Royal De Luxe's Memories of August 1914 event will act as the finale for the Liverpool International festival of Business at the end of July.
Much of it will focus on Liverpool's place in the Great War, the Kings Regiment and the recruitment of the Liverpool Pals battalions, which 100 years ago saw men volunteer alongside their family members, neighbours and work colleagues, signing up to defend Britain on the battlefields of Europe.
Royal De Luxe is after 120 men to volunteer to take part in Memories which runs from 23-27 July, with the main action taking place from 25-27 July. All applicants:
· Must be over 18 years of age
· Be physically fit as marching repeatedly will be required.
· Must also be available for rehearsals on the 27-30 June, 16, 19 and 24-27 July.
· Must be able to supply their own costume – period civilian outfits are welcomed as are period military uniforms (of the era).
Artistic Director Lean Luc Coulcourt says: “Liverpool has such a rich history and the Pals is an incredible and inspirational part of that - and one that we had to incorporate in the show. When we looked at developing the idea, we decided we must recruit an army, and there was no doubt in our minds that we wanted it to be made up of people from Liverpool.
“We aim to recreate the recruitment spirit of 100 years ago, and we’re positive the finished product will be an emotional highlight for many. “
Tony Wainwright, Secretary of the Liverpool Pals Memorial Fund, said: “We are delighted that Royal De Luxe have chosen to incorporate the story of the formation of the Liverpool Pals in the production Memories of August 1914.
“We hope that the Pals being involved in the show will raise the profile of their story and allow many more people to discover their heroism. The city of Liverpool should be rightly proud of OUR Pals, the first to be formed and the last to be stood down. With the help of Royal de Luxe we hope to show just how proud we should be.”
The giants event will take place from 23-27 July 2014 and will see the huge marionettes pounding the streets of Kensington and beyond.
The deadline for applications to take part is 10pm Tuesday 6 May. For full details on how to apply visit here and fill in the Liverpool Pals Battalions re-enactment volunteer application form.
Story of the Pals
Liverpool Pals Lining Up To Enlist
At the outbreak of war in August 1914 Britain’s military leaders were acutely aware that the professional British Army was dwarfed in size by the conscripted German Army. The British Expeditionary Force sent to France was made up of 100,000 men. Germany mobilised 1.7 million men to fight in France and Belgium.
As Secretary of State for War, Lord Kitchener launched a recruitment campaign looking initially for 100,000 volunteers to join the forces. This campaign appealed to the sense of duty and patriotism of the country’s men.
In Liverpool, Lord Derby was granted permission by Kitchener to raise a battalion (1,050 men) from the business houses of Liverpool. Following appeals in the press he called a meeting at which he delivered an emotive speech in which he coined the term ‘Pals battalions’: ‘This should be a battalion of pals, a battalion in which friends from the same office will fight shoulder to shoulder for the honour of Britain and the credit of Liverpool.’
So overwhelming was the response that between 31 August and 5 September enough men signed up at St George’s Hall to form three battalions. By November 1914 this had increased to four and these would become the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th Battalions of the King’s (Liverpool Regiment). Towns and cities across the country formed Pals battalions in which the men might share a profession (Glasgow Tramways Battalion), an ethnic background (Tyneside Irish Battalion), or even a shared sport (the footballers’ battalion, also known as the 17th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment).
Original Recruitment PosterThe Liverpool Pals saw action for the first time at the Battle of the Somme. On the opening day of the battle on 1 July 1916, nearly 20,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers were killed and a further 40,000 wounded or missing.
The Liverpool Pals succeeded in taking their objectives, near the village of Montauban, but at a cost of over 250 men. On 30 July, at Guillemont, over 460 men were killed in a single day. They would go on to serve with distinction in other major battles such as Arras and Passchendaele. By the end of the war over 2,800 had given their lives.
A memorial to the men who served with the Liverpool Pals is to be unveiled at Lime Street station on 31 August 2014.