At the outbreak of World War One, the Portsmouth Citizens' Patriotic Recruiting Committee decided to form the Portsmouth's Own Battalion.

Formally known as the 14th and 15th Battalions Hampshire Regiment, they became better known as the 1st and 2nd Pompey Pals. The regiments were formed in late 1914 and early 1915 and men enlisted when attending football matches at Fratton Park, the enlisting tables having been set up in Frogmore Road.

Portsmouth can be regarded as one of the first places in the country to do this and was followed by towns and cities across Great Britain, forming a major part of Kitchener's 'New Army'.

Serving with distinction in many of the famous battles on the Western Front, over 6000 men enlisted, 1425 never returned home.


...that is forever Pompey!

As with all battalions, the Pompey Pals sustained heavy casualties during their involvement on the Somme and at Ypres. The story of Albert Victor Webb, 14th Hampshire Regt (1st Pompey Pals) and the Battle of Pilckem Ridge can be read by clicking here.

On 3 September 1914, the 1st Pompey Pals first action began in a battle on the River Ancre. Having started with 587 men, at the end of the day 440 casualties had been sustained.

Similarly, the 2nd Pompey Pals were in action for the first time on 15 September 1914. Although ultimately more successful in their objective and awarded 12 Military Medals as well as a Conspicuous Service Medal for their achievement, from the 557 men who began the day, 305 were either killed or wounded.

The names of these brave men are included on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, at the Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres as well as Portsmouth's own War Memorial in Guildhall Square, Portsmouth.

Further details of the battles involving the Pompey Pals battalions can be found at the Pompey Pals Website and on their Facebook page.

A British soldier stands besides the grave of a comrade near Pilckem during the Third Battle of Ypres, 22 August 1917.

The Menin Gate Memorial to the soldiers killed in Ypres, Belgium

Portsmouth War Memorial, Guildhall Square