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Leeds Pals Memorial at Colsterdale

Breary Bank, Colsterdale, near Masham

Leeds Pals memorial I came across this memorial on a very cold gray day, when I only had a cheap camera with me. One day I'll go back and get some decent shots.

I'm sure most people know the stories of the first world war "Pals" batallions. They were raised by local areas, so that men could serve alongside their friends and colleagues. Unfortunately, this also meant that in bloodbaths like The Somme, they died alongside their colleagues, and the effect on home front morale was devastating.

The Leeds Pals was one such battalion, raised in the patriotic fervour of 1914. Once raised, the Pals en-trained to Masham and then marched to Colsterdale, where they made camp on Water Board land.

After nine months training at Colsterdale - and what must that have been like for many of the inner city lads - they were shipped to Egypt to defend the Suez Canal, but managed to arrive in France in time for the Battle of the Somme in 1916.

The first day of tThe Somme was the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army with nearly 60,000 casualties, including 20,000 dead.  The Leeds Pals were thrown into one of the fiercest sectors of the line alongside the Accrington Pals and  suffered over 500 casualties within a few minutes of advancing. In effect they were wiped out. Small wonder then that in 1935 the survivors relatives and friends erected this memorial. Small tribute indeed to men who suffered in a way that is almost unimaginable today.

 Memorial to the Leeds Pals,

My Grandfather served with the Leeds Pals, but as he died when I was about four I don't know if he had to go through the hell of The Somme. Maybe one day I'll do some research and find out.

Comments (21)
Unveiled in 1933, it took so long for so few to remember so many. I lost my grandfather in the first war, he was, I believe, a member of the Leeds Pals, Frank Wood[s] died 1916 - 1917 ish. May he and all the other gallant soldiers who perished rest in peace.
posted by J R Spencer 01/03/2009 17:08:00
Found this memorial by accident, not from that part of the country I was lost and came upon the sign, had to investigate. What a bleak place it would have been in the winter when the camp was operational. It brings back memories of when I was stationed in such a location. At Least they WILL NOT BE FORGOTTEN

The following names are on plaques

George P TOWNEND, Leeds Pals fell at the Somme 1st July 1916, Not forgotten, Margaret

Pte 1365 Willie KING, 15th West Yorkshire Regiment, Leed Pals died Saturday 1st July 1916 age 19. Remember with Honour
posted by Alf Beard 06/06/2009 22:09:00
Please help me find the railway from Masham that served the camp. The camp is a wonderful place, probably not alot of fun in 1917 though. agturner@f2s.com
posted by Andrew Turner 08/06/2009 00:21:56
The Railway is easily seen on google earth. I have an old atlas which depicts the line which arrives at masham either via Ripon or Northallerton. E mail me at cacgregg@aol.com for copy of map if wanted.
posted by Colin Gregory 14/06/2009 19:23:43
There is an excellent book "Lesser Railways of the Yorkshire Dales" by Harold D Botwell, published by Plateway Press which gives good coverage of this railway and its history, and includes references to the history of The Leeds Pals.
The ISBN is 1 871980 09 7
posted by John Peers 18/07/2009 10:04:30
My great uncle-Edgar Moore-died on the 1st day of the Somme.One of the many Leeds pals.His father advertised in the local paper to see if any soldiers had seen him after the battle but no word came so it was assumed he was killed along with many others ,their remains were never identified.Only a name on a memorial in France.
posted by Nick Wood 30/10/2009 15:43:45
My father, Herbert Oswald Youhill, was badly injured on The Somme but survived to handle the effects quietly and bravely and worked until well after his 65th birthday. He never told me very much about it and I really wish I'd asked more. I treasure what few archives he left in particular a small shield from an amateur football team with his initials engraved on the copper centre. This is severely grazed across the centre - damage which it is highly unlikely to have suffered here - and I have the strangest feeling that he may have carried it in the War and that it may have deflected a bullet and perhaps saved his life. He spent many months convalescence at Stokesay Court, a mansion in Shropshire used as a military recovery home, before returning to Leeds for medical discharge early in 1918. I always try to attend the quiet little service at Colsterdale each July - always a very moving occasion.
posted by Chris Youhill 26/06/2010 07:55:59
Does anyone know what time the Leeds Pals memorial service at Colsterdale is on Sunday? Last year we went to the memorial buthad missed the service. Many Thanks
posted by David Greenwood 29/06/2010 20:23:33
Hello David - after much telephoning and enquiring I've just found out for certain that it is TOMORROW, Thursday 1st July, at 11.00am. I always go if I can and shall try to do so tomorrow, but this will depend on circumstances in the morning.
posted by Chris Youhill 30/06/2010 11:07:08
Iwas born in a mining village in Durham in 1941 and so I have no knowledge of the first war.Since mining was a reserved occupation, there were very few families affected by loss or casualities; my grandfather was in the navy. I had heard the name 'Toc H' without knowing it's true meaning or worth. I came across the Colsterdale Centre near Masham whilst looking at a map. My father was in the last war but luckily survived the hell that war must be. I feel that my generation are very lucky to missed both wars, but I often think of the absolute horror of what it must have been like.
posted by Barrie Glassford 30/06/2010 20:20:35
I came across this site, as I was interested to see how much more information there is on the Leeds Pals apart from www.leeds-pals.com of which I am the historian and web master. I am interested to see that nick who posted a comment on this page had a relative in the Leeds Pals and currently is not featured on my memorial website. Nick if you see this post please do not hesitate to get in touch via the contact us form with any information that you have and I would gladly add him to the many men on our web page that fought for Leeds during the great war. So that his story is never forgotten.
posted by Steve Wood 10/07/2010 19:57:36
I think my grandfather, Roland Gamble, may have served with the Leeds Pals as a sergeant. He was an apprentice at a printers prior to being allowed leave from his apprenticeship to join the army. I wonder if anyone on here might have any information about him. I know it is a long shot. He died when I was 8 years old in 1978. Any information would be gratefully received.
posted by victoria thompson 21/08/2010 16:37:56
My Grandad served at Ypres and survived until just after his 90th birthday in 1983 with shrapnel from the "Great" War in his abdomen.
posted by Nick Brady 25/08/2010 13:38:03
The memorial is just a few minutes detour from the 6 Dales Trail which runs from Otley to Middleham. It's well worth the detour. On Google maps you can see the outline of the buildings that formed the camp. A moving experience.
posted by Nick Lawrence 11/10/2010 09:34:34
In memory of my great uncle Sgt Ben Smales 2631, Husband of Esther G. Smales. of 25, Minnie St., Wolseley Rd, Burley, Leeds. King's Royal Rifle Corps, 2nd Batllion. Killed in battle aged 35, 17/9/1914. No known grave. His name is carved in the LA FERTE-SOUS-JOUARRE MEMORIAL
posted by Dave Whittaker 13/04/2011 19:57:22
My grand father Edgar Chapman trained at Breary Banks. He was wounded in the battle of the Somme in 1915 and was invalided out of the service in 1919.He retired to the village of grewelthorpe, not far away from the memorial and every year sometimes with my Aunt Eileen his daughter he would go along and clean the memorial before the annual service at the site. Edgar died in 1952 a brave man who served his country under terrible conditions. He was great man and I loved to be in his company and I was very proud to have been his friend. Richard Chapman, grandson now living in New Zealand but visit Yorkshire most years
posted by Richard Chapman 21/04/2011 04:25:50
Went yesterday with an RBL contingent to the Annual Service of Commeration at the Memorial. A beautiful day for a change. The District Standard and five others were present with some thirty or so veterans and a sprinkling of younger folk. Dad was a Pal and four other of his brothers served also.
posted by Alan Harris 04/07/2011 10:39:28
Went yesterday with an RBL contingent to the Annual Service of Commeration at the Memorial. A beautiful day for a change. The District Standard and five others were present with some thirty or so veterans and a sprinkling of younger folk. Dad was a Pal and four other of his brothers served also.
posted by Alan Harris 04/07/2011 10:40:42
Went yesterday with an RBL contingent to the Annual Service of Commeration at the Memorial. A beautiful day for a change. The District Standard and five others were present with some thirty or so veterans and a sprinkling of younger folk. Dad was a Pal and four other of his brothers served also.
posted by Alan Harris 04/07/2011 10:41:23
Hi, I came across this fabulous memorial to the brave Yorkshire Warriors this afternoon whilst exploring around Masham. I'm a serving Sgt Mjr with the Yorkshire Regiment (PWO) currently based in Catterick Garrison and had no idea that the Pals had been stationed in such an area. The small book left there was paricularly poignant. Very moving and I'll be doing a bit more research into the camp and the pals. " Nec Asperra Terrant"
posted by Nick Seal 23/07/2011 22:02:25
hi nick just get the leeds pals book by laurie milner and you will love and cry like i did look out for horace iies on page 22 very sad it says it all all the best . ian
posted by ian dawson 04/08/2011 22:55:39
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