Cambridgeshire County Council has secured over Â£36,000 in Heritage Lottery funding to deliver "˜Cambridgeshire Pals, A Digital Memorial to the 11th Battalion Suffolk Regiment'. The project aims to raise awareness of the Cambridgeshire men who enlisted in the Suffolk Regiment and suffered tragic losses in the Battle of the Somme 1916. The project will involve local people "“ Cambridgeshire Community Archive Network (CCAN) members, families and local historians - in research into the men who fell. The project will be delivered in partnership with CCAN which celebrates its tenth anniversary this year.
In the year of the 100th anniversary, the project seeks to recognise the loss and the bravery of all those who gave their lives in this long-lasting and bloody battle. The 1st July 1916 was the first day of the Battle of the Somme, which lasted until 18th November 1916. The casualties sustained by the 11th Battalion Suffolk Regiment in just a few hours that morning of the 1st July were the largest in any single battalion in their Division, the role of the Cambridgeshire Pals in the Battle is yet to be fully recognised and commemorated.
The digital memorial will be available on the CCAN Great War website from the 1st July, and will be built upon through to November 2016.
Cambridgeshire County Council's Acting Head of Service for Libraries and Archives, Jill Terrell said: "One hundred years ago, neighbours, friends, colleagues and brothers from villages, towns and cities across Cambridgeshire volunteered to fight in the First World War. After an initial period of training, these volunteers were sent to France on 7th January 1916. Their first experience of going over the top was to be the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army; the 1st July 1916. On this day alone, 186 soldiers of the 11th Battalion Suffolk Regiment died and a further 505 were casualties, many of whom never recovered from their wounds. They stood together, but not for long; many were killed, many more wounded and later died of their injuries, some recovered sufficiently to fight again, the majority never returned. Our aim is to create a digital memorial to commemorate the Cambridgeshire soldiers who died in the Battle".