Accrington Pals at Rugeley Camp, Cannock Chase

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Description:W (Accrington) Company group at Rugeley Camp on Penkridge Bank, Cannock Chase in 1915. John 'Jack' Broadley is standing in the back row, 4th from the left with a cigarette in his mouth . Jack was born and raised in Accrington by his mother Alice Broadley (nee Brindle). His brother Fred was killed , aged 18, on the first day/night of the Battle of the Somme, 1st July 1916. Fred’s body was never recovered. In the place where Fred was killed, now known as Sheffield Park, there is a memorial to the Accrington Pals. Jack Broadley survived the war and returned home to marry Clara Stones. They had a child, Ivy Constance (Connie). If anyone knows the names of the men in this photograph please contact us.

Cannock Chase had been used as a military training ground since the 1870s. During the First World War two military camps were built on the Chase - Brocton Camp, which was located near to Anson's Bank, and Rugeley Camp, which extended along Penkridge Bank. The two camps were separated by the Sherbrook Valley.

Brocton Camp provided troops with canteen facilities, a bank, post office, shops and even a theatre. A standard gauge railway built by West Cannock Colliery Company, carried food and other supplies around the camp to the troops who were stationed there. Soldiers who died, through wounds received in France, accidents or illness, were buried in the military cemetery to the south of the camp. Many died during the influenza epidemic of 1918.

After the war the soldiers left and the huts were sold. In the 1930s gravel workings covered large areas of the site, but today some traces of the camp still exist.

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Image courtesy of: Ms Jeannie Gee

Donor ref:(55/41149)

Source: Miscellaneous Collection

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