Pals Battalions

Joining "Pals Battalions" let soldiers go to war with their friends.

The British Army was not very big at the start of World War One. Lord Kitchener was in charge of recruitment (until his death in June 1916) and he realised that men were more likely to volunteer to join the Army if they could train and fight with their friends.

Across the country men volunteered to join battalions of neighbours, work colleagues and even football supporters. Many of these Pals Battalions, as they became known, saw their first action at the Somme. Some battalions suffered terrible casualties and this had a big impact on their local communities where whole streets might be stripped of their young men.

On 7th July the Welsh attack started. The German machine guns caused many casualties and the thick wood was difficult to fight in. Against the odds, the Welshmen cleared most of the German positions in the wood and by the time the 38th Division was replaced by reinforcements Mametz Wood was almost secure. About 600 officers and soldiers had been killed.

The Swansea Pals were part of the 38th Welsh Division that attacked Mametz Wood in July 1916. Of 1,200 men 100 were killed.

External Resources

The Flintshire Observer in September 1914 gives an account of a proposed plan to establish a PALS Battalion in North Wales

A poster encouraging men to join their pals in the army.

A poster encouraging men to join their pals in the army.