Blackbury Pals

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The Blackbury Pals, more properly the Blackbury Volunteers, were a 'Pals battalion' recruited from one area of Blackbury who feature in Johnny and the Dead.

Johnny, Yo-less, Bigmac and Wobbler find a photograph of the Pals leaving for war when researching famous people who might be in the cemetery. They also find an article dated four weeks later listing the deaths of all of the Pals except Tommy Atkins. The rest of the members of the battalion were killed at more or less the same time on the Somme.

Tommy Atkins died at the age of 96 at Sunshine Acres at the beginning of the time covered by the events of Johnny and the Dead. Johnny attends Tommy's funeral along with Mr Atterbury and the nurse from Sunshine Acres and sees Tommy reunited with his Pals when he marches away with them after his funeral.

Members of the Battalion

A number of members of the battalion are named:

  • Armitage, K
  • Sergeant Atterbury, F - posthumous father of Mr Atterbury
  • Blazer
  • Constantine
  • Frazer
  • Frobisher

Pals Battalions

Pals' Battalions were a system during WWI where groups of friends, workmates or neighbours were allowed (and encouraged) to enlist as a group and would, after training, be deployed as a group. This probably seemed like a good idea at the time but when whole Pals battalions, like the Blackbury Pals, were wiped out by one shell it suddenly seemed like less of a good idea. For example out of the 700 Accrington Pals 235 were killed and 350 wounded in twenty minutes during the Battle of the Somme in 1916.