Greater protected status for war memorials to mark Somme centenary


More than a dozen war memorials have received greater protected status to mark the centenary of the start of the First World War's Battle of the Somme.

Some 15 memorials across the country have received new or upgraded listings, with seven newly protected and eight seeing their protection upgraded, Government heritage body Historic England said.

The memorials mark the consequences of the Somme, which began on July 1, 1916 and is considered to be one of the bloodiest in human history with well over a million dead or wounded by the time it ended in November that year.

The first day of the Somme was the worst in the history of the British Army, with almost 60,000 soldiers killed, wounded or missing.

Among the memorials receiving new or upgraded listed status are several commemorating the Pals Battalions, groups of men who signed up together as friends and then fought - and died - together. 

Many of them did not see major action until the Somme, when they suffered heavy casualties, with towns, cities and even particular streets losing a large number of men.

There are also memorials which remember the role of nurses, vets, and a young Scout who escaped death in a sailing accident, which claimed the lives of seven people, only for him to be killed at the Somme.

One of the newly listed memorials is a simple stone pillar on the North Yorkshire Moors, commemorating two young shepherds who were friends since boyhood and signed up together in 1914.

One of them, Robert Leggott, was only 17 years old when he enlisted, lying about his age to join up, and he died on the Somme, with his body never found.

First World War and Heritage Minister David Evennett said: "These memorials are a poignant reminder of those who lost their lives in the Battle of the Somme 100 years ago and an important part of our heritage.

"It is only right that they are protected to ensure that we continue to remember the sacrifices made during the First World War."

Roger Bowdler of Historic England said: "Important as it was for wearing down the enemy, the battle of the Somme demanded a terrible price in lives lost from across the land.

"Alongside the Thiepval Arch on the battlefield, newly listed and upgraded memorials remind us of how communities at home paid tribute to those they had lost."

The listings come ahead of a ceremony marking the centenary of the Somme at Thiepval, France, and vigils around the UK later this week.

The newly listed memorials are:

:: Bradford War Memorial, Prince's Way, Bradford, West Yorkshire, Grade II listed;

:: Memorial to the Leeds Pals (15th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment), Colsterdale, Breary Banks, Healey, West Yorkshire, Grade II listed;

:: Carlton Colville Scouts Memorial, St Peter's Road, Carlton Colville, Suffolk, Grade II listed;

:: Commondale Shepherd's Memorial, Commondale, North Yorkshire, Grade II listed;

:: 1st Surrey Rifles, St Giles' Church, Camberwell, London, Grade II listed;

:: Green Howards Regimental Cross, Richmond, North Yorkshire, Grade II listed;

:: Penrith War Memorial at St Andrew's, Penrith, Cumbria, Grade II listed.

The memorials which have had their protected status upgraded are:

::  Accrington War Memorial, Oak Hill Park, Lancashire, upgraded to Grade II*;

:: Barnsley War Memorial, Church Street, Barnsley, South Yorkshire, upgraded to Grade II*;

:: Sheffield War Memorial, Barker's Pool, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, upgraded to Grade II*;

:: Preston War Memorial, Market Place, Preston, Lancashire, upgraded to Grade I;

:: City and County of London Troops War Memorial, Royal Exchange, London upgraded to Grade II*;

:: The Rifle Brigade War Memorial, Grosvenor Gardens, Westminster, London, upgraded to Grade II*;

:: Lichfield War Memorial, Bird Street, Lichfield, Staffordshire, upgraded to Grade II*;

:: War Memorial at All Saints (Garrison Church), Aldershot, Hampshire, recognised in the Church's list entry.