Memorial work to commemorate soldiers underway

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Work to construct a memorial commemorating the bravery of soldiers who fought in one of the bloodiest battles of the First World War is underway.

The Centenary Memorial project was launched last July, on the 99th anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Somme, and pensioners at Morley Elderly Action’s craft group have preparing a special banner.

They have painstakingly produced an embroidered cross-stitched panel, depicting soldiers going over the top from their trenches as the fighting began.

A sea of poppies has been cut and sewn as a border and the group is now putting together the casualty panels which will record some of the names, ranks and regiments of those who died in the awful battle in July 1916.

The British Army lost 57,470 casualties, 19,240 of whom were killed, on the first day alone.

The Observer & Advertiser appealed last year to connect families who had lost relatives in the battle with project organisers.

Andrew Dalton, project coordinator and historian, said: “The impact of the battle locally was not insignificant.

“Morley men had been encouraged to join up and fight together in the same battalions such as the Leeds Pals and Bradford Pals.

“The ferocity of the fighting and wholesale slaughter saw large numbers from local close-knit communities decimated overnight - including Morley.”

The project was commissioned by Morley Community Church with help from Morley Elderly Action’s craft group.

Organisers are still looking for information about local casualties in the battle.

They have already established Cornelius Kidger, who was killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, was a family uncle of former Morley mayor Wynn Kidger

The volunteers from Morley Elderly Action Craft Group hope to have the banner completed in time for the centenary on July 1.

Mr Dalton added: “Morley Community Church is committed to promoting the heritage of our town. This project will help future generations appreciate the large sacrifice made by soldiers from this town in this tragic episode.”

Anyone who has information should email editorial@morleytoday.co.uk