Jersey

First memorial for Jersey Somme unit unveiled

The stone memorial for the Jersey Contingent
Image caption The stone memorial will be transported to the village of Guillemont in France to mark the site where Jersey soldiers fought and died

The first memorial dedicated to Jersey's only unit to fight at the Battle of the Somme has been unveiled.

The Jersey Contingent, known as "the Jersey Pals", served alongside British forces in the bloody World War One battle that began a century ago.

An estimated 120 men from the island were killed in the fighting, along with 420,000 British soldiers who were killed or wounded.

Historian Ian Ronayne said the memorial told a "personal story for Jersey".

"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.

'Overlooked'

The 326 men who served in the Jersey Contingent were among more than 6,000 men from the island to fight in World War One, many of whom served in regiments of the British army.

"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.

More than 700 people gathered at a service at Howard Davis Park on Friday, where the stone was revealed as part of the commemorations to remember the 863 Jersey soldiers who died during World War One.

The stone, quarried in Jersey, will be taken to the village of Guillemont in France on Sunday, to mark the site where men from the Jersey Contingent fought and died in the Battle of the Somme.

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