Memorial Unveiled for Jersey Somme Unit

In World War I, the Jersey Contingent (also known as the Jersey Pals) fought along with the British in the Battle of the Somme. The first memorial to the only unit from Jersey to fight in the tragic battle was unveiled in Howard Davis Park on Friday.

It is estimated that 120 men from Jersey were killed in action during that battle, along with more than 480,000 British troops killed or wounded.

It’s a very personal story for Jersey, according to historian Ian Ronayne. “In September 1916 they fought in the Battle of Somme, suffered very, very serious losses during that engagement, but also managed to distinguish themselves by capturing one of the important villages on the Somme,” he said.

Over 6000 men from the island fought in World War I. Included among them were the 326 men of the Jersey Contingent.

“It’s part of a history that I think we overlooked for a long time, not that we had forgotten the men who served and died, but perhaps we were lost in the bigger picture of the British army, the story of the British army,” Mr. Ronayne said.

The monument was revealed in front of more than 700 people. The unveiling was part of commemorations to remember the 863 soldiers from Jersey, who died in World War I.

The stone was quarried in Jersey. It will be taken to Guillemont, France on Sunday where it will mark the site where the Jersey Contingent fought in that battle.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE