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The Great Send Off: Port Sunlight remembers the 700 who went off to war

9th September 2014

Categories: News

The Great Send Off, Port Sunlight
Great Send Off Port Sunlight 2014

Liverpool Echo

Crowds gathered to commemorate the centenary of 700 Port Sunlight men going off to war.

The Lever Brothers employees were the largest number of volunteers to enlist from any works in the country when they signed up for the 13th battalion of the Cheshire Regiment on September 7, 1914.

Of the Port Sunlight men who went to war, around 100 were killed during the 1914-18 conflict.

Men, women and children, many of them in period costume, made the same journey from the village to Chester yesterday, where they joined with several hundred more people in the city commemorating the centenary of the Battle of Mons.Among those volunteering for the Great Send Off event, organised by the Port Sunlight Trust, were friends Ann Clemett, Margaret Goodier and Joan Brokenshar.

Joan, from Bromborough, said: “We applied very early on. We’re just so honoured to take part.”

And Margaret, from Spittal, who visited the D-Day beaches with Ann earlier this year, added: “I’m just amazed at how much thought people have gone to with their dress to get the period right.

“This is history and I feel privileged to be here.”

Meanwhile cousins Andrew Ostle and Peter Cooper joined the parade to commemorate their grandfather William Henry Cooper, who worked at Port Sunlight and served with the 8th Cheshires at Gallipoli and in Mesopotamia, and later fought with the Royal Fusiliers in Salonika.

Andrew said: “He came home with malaria and my mum says she remembers him screaming in the night. But he never talked about the war.”

Peter added: “I remember when I was three he used to look after me. There was a man in a black beret and a great coat who sat outside Port Sunlight Station selling matches. He must have been gassed in the war. And my grandfather always made a point of buying a box of matches from him.”

Wirral South MP Alison McGovern also took part.

The volunteers lined up in front of Lever Hall where ‘Sir William Lever’ was cheered as he reprised the rousing speech given to the enlisting men a century ago.

He said: “We are proud of you. This is the proudest moment in the life of Port Sunlight because the men of Port Sunlight have volunteered in this way to defend our countrymen and King in this time of stress and strain.

“I know you will give a good account of yourselves.”

Two vintage cars and the Port Sunlight Lyceum Brass Band led the parade to the village’s railway station for the special train service to Chester.

Click here to see a short video of the event

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