group informalA school which lost more 150 pupils in action during the First World War is supporting the appeal to mark the loss of the Durham Light Infantry Pals18th Battalion who fell during the Somme Offensive.

Barnard Castle School saw 735 pupils go off to fight in The Great War – 157 did not return and are remembered on the school’s Chapel wall. The school is affiliated to The Rifles regiment – formerly the Durham Light Infantry (DLI) – and pupils have raised £500 in support of the appeal to put a battlefield memorial to the Durham Pals 18th Battalion in The Somme later this year.

Handing the cheque to The Trustees of the DLI, Barnard castle School headteacher, Alan Stevens, said: “We have a long and proud history with the DLI and felt strongly we wanted to support the memorial appeal.

“We run an annual trip to the World War 1 battlefields and have a plaque at Ypres so the staff and pupils felt donating the funds raised from a non- uniform day was a fitting tribute.

“We look forward to seeing the memorial in place on our next visit to Thiepval.”

Chairman of the DLI Trusties, Col. James Ramsbotham, said: “The Pals battalions were made up of ordinary men, who rallied together to go out to the front line.

“Other Pals battalions from around the country, who fought alongside our DLI Pals, have memorials out in the Somme but the Durham boys have nothing to mark their sacrifice and we are striving to correct that.

“I am incredibly grateful to the pupils and staff at Barnard Castle School for their support for our Somme Memorial Appeal and I am moved by their passion to remember all those who went out to fight for their country and didn’t come home.”

Kim Hodgson, a pupil at Barnard Castle School and Deputy Head of the Combined Cadets Force at the school, said: “The school has such strong connections with the DLI especially through the Old Barnardians we lost during the Battle of the Somme, but it is difficult for us as young people today to imagine what it would have been like for those young men who went out to fight – we live in such a different world now. I think that’s why it’s so important that we do things like this, alongside what we learn in our history lessons, to keep it in our minds about how lucky we are compared to what they went through.

“It’s nice to think that our school fundraising will be going towards the memorial fund and I think it’s a lovely idea that there will be something special placed out at the Somme and in Durham to catch people’s eye and make them think about the DLI Pals sacrifice – it will help keep their story alive for many generations to come.”

The DLI Trusties are working with Durham County Council, Durham Cathedral, Durham University and the Northern Echo to raise £20,016 during 2016 to put a battlefield memorial in place this year both at Thiepval and in County Durham to mark the start and finish of 18 DLI’s journey to The Somme a hundred years ago.  

The DLI Trusties have launched a 31 day online appeal to raise £10,000 of that target in July.

Anyone wanting to donate can do so by visiting the just giving page set up https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/sommememorial