A bid to install a battlefield memorial to the men of a regional daily’s patch who died at the Somme has been launched by the newspaper.
The Northern Echo is aiming to raise £20,016 during 2016 to pay for a memorial to the 18th Battalion Durham Light Infantry, known as the ‘Durham Pals’, at the site in France where many of its members died 100 years ago.
The 18th DLI, comprised of volunteers from County Durham, is currently the only Pals battalion not to have its own memorial at the Somme, where 300 were left dead or wounded during the battle in July 1916.
The Pals battalions were formed during the First World War to allow friends, neighbours and colleague from the same area to serve alongside one another on the front line. The Somme offensive, which claimed more than one million lives in total, saw many of the battalions suffer heavy losses.
The Echo’s ‘Durham Remembers’ appeal, launched on yesterday’s front page, is being run in association with Durham County Council, the DLI Trustees and Durham University, with support from Durham Cathedral.
It is hoped the cash will be raised in time for November’s Armistice Day commemorations.
Editor Peter Barron said: “We want to put right an historic oversight. The DLI is the only one of the Pals battalions not to have its own memorial on the Somme battlefield in France.
“The soldiers who died at the Somme deserve a fitting memorial.”
James Ramsbotham, chairman of the DLI Trustees, added: “The 18th Battalion of the DLI was a truly countywide regiment and a lot of those Durham lads are still lying in France where their blood was spilled.
“There is no memorial in France to them and their sacrifice and it’s time to put that right. It would be nice to see something that represents County Durham and the young men who gave their lives.”