On Wednesday 4th August 1915 a great patriotic demonstration took place in Bradford the highlight of which was the visit of the 1st Bradford Pals from Ripon.
“The men of the Bradford 1st Pals battalion to the full strength of 1,030 rank and file were conveyed by two special trains from Ripon and arrived at Bradford Midland station just before noon. They were accorded a most enthusiastic reception by the public and the station was crowded with friends of the men. The general bearing of the men was splendid and their training has undoubtedly rendered them as efficient a line as any infantry line in the country. Bradford is indeed proud of them and so long as we can raise battalions of this description we cannot fail to have full confidence in the final triumph of our arms.
Colonel Warden, who saw distinguished service in the South African War, was in full command, and at a word the men left the trains and came smartly to attention on the platform. They carried full kit and rifles and were accompanied by their bugle and drum band.”
Valley Parade refreshments
“The battalion proceeded by way of market street and Darley street to the Valley Parade football ground which was found to be admirably suited for the purpose of the mid-day meal. Here the arrangements of the citizens’ army league were excellent. Members of the league had prepared to serve luncheon without a moments delay. The men were divided into three companies and as each company passed from the ground into the main stand the men were served with rations and passed to seats on the stand. Mineral waters and bottled beer were optional, and it was remarkable what a large number of the men preferred the former. The men’s luncheon basket contained two substantial beef and ham sandwiches and fruit tarts. The men themselves admitted afterwards that this was the best they had so far received in connection with their route marches and they all appeared to thoroughly enjoy themselves. The officers assembled with the men for lunch and partook in the same rations.”
“The demonstration in front of the town hall was marked by a magnificent enthusiasm which reflected the true feelings of the people. It was a happy cheerful gathering made gay with brilliant waving flags and glorious sunshine but beneath it all there could be felt a solemn note of serious purpose. The people of the city had gathered in their thousands not only to see a wonderful and memorable spectacle but also and chiefly to have a part in affirming (in the words of the resolution displayed on three large sheets affixed to the upper part of the Town Hall)
“that on the anniversary of the declaration of a righteous war this meeting of the citizens of Bradford records its inflexible determination to continue to a victorious end the struggle in maintenance of those ideals of liberty and justice which are the common and sacred cause of the allies”
Soon after noon the people began to assemble in the neighbourhood of the Town Hall and by 1 o’clock the square and the surrounding streets were impassable. A vast thong filled the square extending almost to Thornton Road and Manchester Road on one side and to Bridge Street and Leeds Road on the other. Market Street and Darley Street also were thickly filled by crowds waiting to see the Pals pass by and every direction fresh contingents hurried up to swell the gathering. At this time the crowd in front of the town hall filled the whole space from end to end.
In front of the Town Hall entrance a large platform had been erected and the red covering of the floor and the national emblems inlaid around the balustrade made a bright splash of colour in the crowd. On all the neighbouring buildings too as well as on the Town Hall flags and banners were floating, above the Town Hall gateway being the flags of the Allies and the Union Jack flying from a standard in front. It was above all, however, the animation of the crowd which made the gathering one of so such vivid distinction. In the square, in the surrounding windows and on balconies and roofs the people were assembled and each one in the concourse seemed to feel that he had a part in an event of national import, and on every face there was the light of enthusiasm.
Artillery and pals arrive
Shortly before 2 o’clock a large contingent of the 3rd 2nd West Riding Artillery Brigade marched down from Belle Vue Barracks under the command of Major Priestley and took up position reserved for them in the square their band joining the Yorkshire Military Band and the Police Band on the large stand which had been erected during the morning. Shortly afterwards there was another cheer and then the Bradford pals under the command of Lieutenant Colonel C W Warden came marching smartly along the street and halted in the square opposite the artillery. On every side the people sought eagerly to obtain a view of the sun burned Bradford lads, but seeing was difficult in so large a throng and soon all eyes were turned again to the platform expectant o the arrival of the Lord Mayor.
The crowd it should be said was a very orderly one and the task of the police on duty was a light one in keeping free passages and other necessary assistance the boy scouts also rendered valuable aid in distributing papers with the order of proceedings.
The ceremony itself was one of emotional solemnity, brief but profoundly stirring. Not within the memory of the oldest Bradfordian could be recalled so impressive a demonstration of the citizens feelings. No cheers rent the air: there was no outward sign, beyond the vast crowd, to indicate the emotions which all must have felt. The day has not arrived for that yet!
Indeed, the feature of the whole affair was the silent way in which the people pledged their determination to continue the struggle for liberty. The restrained demeanour of the crowd was significant. It seemed to indicate an appreciation of seriousness of the situation after a year’s warfare and the quiet strength which is bound up in the people to face the future with confidence.
The approval of the resolution which was submitted by the Lord Mayor, was signified by the holding up of hands and immediately the band struck up the national anthem some special versus for which were lustily sung. The pronouncement of the benediction by the Vicar of Bradford (Rev F T Woods) concluded the ceremony, which was followed by a march past by the troops, the Lord Mayor taking the salute.
The march of the Pals through the city to Peel Park was watched by dense crowds of people, who continuously cheered the soldiers as they passed by. Subsequently the full strength of the two battalions were reviewed at Peel Park by the Lord Mayor.