From little acorns do mighty oak trees grow - and author Martin Purdy told Todmorden Antiquarian Society how childhood tales in Middleton from three neighbouring war veterans, then his work for a local newspaper inspired him towards 20 years of researching the Great War.
With co-author Ian Dawson, Martin, who is also a freelance WW1 adviser to BBC’s programme Who Do You Think You Are, wrote The Gallipoli Oak, story of the 6th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers, a Territorial Army unit comprised of men from Rochdale, Todmorden and Middleton, in the Great War.
Martin explained that the Battalion comprised of 500 Rochdale men, plus 250 from both Todmorden and Middleton. Captain Gledhill, a Todmorden Solicitor, and Captain Robert Barker led the town’s contingent. Extra recruitment was organised in Todmorden Town Hall. Local young men craved adventure, and Martin described how class structure still ruled within Army ranks. The Todmorden men marched to Rochdale where they were billeted near the Drill Hall, then to camp in the West Pennines near Turton.