A sombre mood for Hebden Bridge First World War production in Hebden

A section of Chris Berry's poster design for The Accrington Pals, staged in October by the Little Theatre, Hebden Bridge

A section of Chris Berry's poster design for The Accrington Pals, staged in October by the Little Theatre, Hebden Bridge

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Chris Berry’s poster of the trenches captures the sombre mood at the heart of Peter Whelan’s play “The Accrington Pals” which the Little Theatre have chosen as their production to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War.

Before conscription, Lord Kitchener called for a new army of volunteers, to form the so-called ‘Pals Regiments’ based on particular towns.

The idea was that friends and neighbours would look after each other on the battlefield and it took only 10 days for Accrington to raise a complete battalion.

They were in action on the first day of the Battle of the Somme being instructed to capture the village of Serre – within half an hour the regiment was decimated.

Of the 700 men who went over the top 350 were wounded and 235 killed.

A signaller behind the lines wrote: “We were able to see our comrades advancing across No Man’s Land, only to be mown down like meadow grass.”

Director Gilly Walker says, “The production captures the enthusiasm and friendship of the men before they went off to war but its real focus is the devastating and life changing effect it had on the lives of their women folk.”

As the poster says, “Lest we forget … the women they left behind”

The play runs from October 6 to 11 and tickets are available on the web at hblt.org.uk, in person at Innovation, Hebden Bridge Mill, Bridge Gate, Hebden Bridge, or by telephone on 01422 843907.