THE author of a new book on an Accrington Pal – who survived the Battle of the Somme – will give a free-to-attend talk at Accrington Library on Thursday, 1 September.
Accrington-born Private Jack Smallshaw was one of the first young volunteers to enlist with the ‘Pals’ battalions that sprang up in Northern England during the autumn of 1914. As an Accrington Pal, he was a member of the battalion of men who are perhaps remembered more than most, due to the appalling tragedy which would befall them on the killing fields of the Somme.
Jack’s personal account of his Great War service was published in July by Helion & Company Ltd – coinciding with the Somme centenary. Lancashire-born Steve Corbett has supplemented Private Smallshaw’s writings with his own extensive research – going through the war diaries and narrative accounts of the brigades and battalions which served with the 31st Division throughout the Great War to compile An Accrington Pal. The Diaries of Jack Smallshaw, September 1914 – July 1919.
“I warmly welcome all those with an interest in the Great War in general, and in the Accrington Pals specifically, to join me at Accrington Library for what I hope will be an illuminating insight into one Pal’s experience of the Western Front,” says former gunner Steve, who completed two operational tours of duty in Northern Ireland during the early 1970s.
“I grew to know Jack quite well during the course of writing the book. Throughout the course of the war, I could trace the deterioration of his health, which was caused by long days and nights spent in appalling conditions while manning the frontline trenches. I also went into considerable depth when covering some of the later engagements which the Accrington Pals were involved in, but the book is first and foremost about Jack. It is the story of how he survived four long years of fighting for his country.”
The author event will begin at 11am on the First Floor at Accrington Library, with Steve reading an extract from the book and introducing artefacts of the Great War. There will be the opportunity to ask questions, and light refreshments will also be served.
“Accrington Library is the home of the William Turner collection of photographs and artefacts which relate to the Accrington Pals – a subject that was of great interest to him and which he spent many years researching in order to tell their story,” says Branch Manager Katherine Walsh.
“In addition to this collection, there is also an extensive World War One collection – which is reputed to be one of the largest in the North West – and is often consulted by historians and academics, and can be accessed during normal library opening hours. We look forward to welcoming Steve to our library, for what I am sure will be a most informative author event.”
Copies of An Accrington Pal. The Diaries of Jack Smallshaw, September 1914 – July 1919 can be purchased at the author event, or online at www.helion.co.uk