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Remembered Today:

New Memorial to Cheshire Regt. at Audregnies


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Hi pals

My wife and I have just returned from the 100th Anniversary Commemoration of the 1st Cheshires' action at Audregnies on 24 Aug 1914.

The villagers were exceptional in their welcome and hospitality, with a British Night of music and an excellent hog-roast for Sunday lunch.

As well as a Remembrance Service in the village cemetery, the main purpose was to unveil a new Memorial to honour the Officers and men who died holding back the advancing German forces whilst the 5th Div. retired, which now overlooks the Battlefield.

"I had no intention of sacrificing the Cheshire - but I firmly believe now that the sacrifice saved the 5th Division." ..... "It was due to the gallantry of these two Battalions (1st Cheshires & 1st Norfolks) that the Division was able to extricate itself." - Lieut.-Colonel C. R. Ballard the Norfolk Regiment (O.C.).



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I Spent 3 ½ days at Audregnies and surrounding area at the end of a pilgrimage to my Grandfather WOII John Gallagher MM – then on the role as Pte J Gallagher – ‘C’ Coy 1Bn Cheshire Regt. (I believe he was made a local Sgt, which was made acting 23rd Jan & substantive on 20th March, making him at 19yrs old the youngest Sgt in British military history – or that was his claim anyway)

I left the tip of North Cheshire as it creeps into the keck of the Woodhead pass over the Pennine’s on the 14th August, and arrived la Havre on the 15th so I could follow his and the regiments footsteps through France to Belgium, being at each key location at the very hour the war dairy states they were, 100yrs on in order to try in some small way to capture the atmosphere of the places they traveled through.

I arrived at many locations early in order to ensure I could orientate myself to the ground and on arriving at Audregnies I have to say I was seriously moved driving through the sizable village green area with virtually every house supporting a Union Jack, Belgium or French Flag butting in the same and work going on at a pace, between very heavy isolated down pours to erect a marquee which would hold the British night they planned.

I am not sure if the clear determined desire to honor our people that created the huge lump in my throat or the fact that back in the county these boys came from, there was an almost complete absence of public recognition or commemoration for the events that were unfolding 100yrs ago, especially in the face of the efforts made recently in the same area my grandfather was born and brought up, to publicly support a ‘PROFIT’ making bike ride recently, the lingering miles of yellow bunting this produced.

The locals could not do enough for you to try and show their respect for what my grandfather and his comrades did in August 100yrs ago, while all I desperately tried to let them know how humbled I was at the respect they were paying those lads. I was invited to the official opening of their exhibition and the local doctor insisted I join him in a family meal after offering me accommodation for the remainder of my visit. After leaving his house I arrived at the Marquee with the events in full force and was greeted with the best part of a dozen member of today’s regiment on tables, bopping away to classic pop and in full voice – enough to put the fear off.. in the stoutest hart! But the locals were on fire with the energy it was all creating, and those I now know quite well were overcome with the clear success of the event.

The need to catch the ferry on the evening of the 24th meant I held my own private mini ceremony in the local grave yard at the British War Graves section, laying a wreath on behalf of my grandfather before the official events started I then left for France. I felt it was appropriate and in keeping with personal and private tribute I was trying to pay my grandfather and very much the way he I feel would have liked it.

I feel the Regiment and those associated to it owes the village of Audregnies a great deal in ensuring that, the lads who served there in those tender and fragile early days of the war, along with the massive sacrifice they gave, have been remembered in a manner they deserve. They certainly have my gratitude.

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