THE 18th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry – better known as the Durham Pals – was a unique unit.

Formed on a wave of patriotism in the first days of the First World War, the battalion was made up of groups of friends who joined up together, trained together, served together and ultimately died together.

Volunteers poured in from the North Sea ports and the hill farms of the Pennines; the pit villages of the coalfield and market towns of the dales; all answering the call for king and country.

While other Pals units were funded by the War Office, 18DLI was paid for by public donation: the men were housed, clothed and fed entirely by the people of County Durham.

Remembering the Durham Pals on the battlefield where they gave their young lives
Help commemorate the sacrifices made by the men of the Durham Light Infantry at the Somme. In the month of July 2016, we are aiming to raise £10,000 to create a battlefield memorial to those who fell 100 years ago. To donate, either go to and make a pledge, or send a cheque made payable to Former Charities of the Durham Light Infantry to The Rifles Durham Office, Elvet Waterside, Durham DH1 3BW.

The battalion was made up of four companies: A Company was recruited in Darlington; B Company included teachers who had trained at Bede College, in Durham, mixed with old boys from the North Eastern County School, in Barnard Castle; C Company was made up of Durham City volunteers and D Company was made up of Hartlepool men.

While stationed in England for training, six of the Durham Pals were killed during the bombardment of Hartlepool.

The battalion then served in Egypt, defending the Suez Canal against an expected attack, before transferring to France in March 1916.

Over the next three months, the clerks, teachers and accountants of 18DLI spent a total of three weeks in the frontline trenches, losing around a dozen men to the daily attrition of enemy snipers and mortar fire.

By the start of July, they were considered ready to play their part in the bloodiest battle in British history.