Todmorden needs you - to march in their footsteps

Todmorden branch of the Royal British Legion is looking to recruit volunteers to recreate a march undertaken by their forbears two days after the outbreak of the Great War.

On Friday, August 6, 1914, following the order to mobilise on August 4 when Britain had entered the war, men from the two Todmorden Territorial Army companies of the Rochdale Battalion of the 6th Lancashire Fusiliers marched to Rochdale to join with men from the Middleton and Rochdale companies.

Their story told in the recently published book The Gallipoli Oak, written by Martin Purdy and Ian Dawson, less than a year later many of them fought and many of them died in the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign. After that, the Western Front and Passchendaele still lay ahead.

One of a number of events being organised to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the war in which ordinary men found themselves in the most extraordinary circumstances in often horrific situations, the Legion is hoping for some volunteers to recreate those first steps next year on the 100th anniversary of the march.

Darren Widdup of the Todmorden branch said; “As part of the Legion’s commemorative events we are recreating the march to Rochdale. We are looking for volunteers to play the part of some of these men. We will be wearing the uniforms although not carrying the packs they carried and a bit of fitness is involved.

“I have also spoken to the Rochdale Legion contingent and in the process of speaking to Middleton. It’s a challenge for people to get into character and step into the shoes of their great-grandfathers and great-uncles. A hundred and six Todmorden men went out to Gallipoli and 45 never returned,” he said.

Darren said there would be a presentation night for anyone interested in August. For more details contact Darren via the United Services Club in White Hart Fold, email dazwiddup@gmail.com or ring him on 07729 563643.