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Chester’s Great War veterans to be commemorated at city pub

The Albion Inn will host the event over two days in October

B company of the Cheshire Regiment during mobilization at the Drill Hall, Albion Street, Chester

Two Great War veterans are to be honoured at a special evening of celebration and remembrance at The Albion Inn in Chester at the end of October.

Brothers Pte James Henry Ward and William Ward, of Railway Cottages in Mouldsworth , are commemorated on historic brass plaques at the pub in Albion Street, which is renowned for its World War One memorabilia and period ambiance.

Landlord Mike Mercer has commissioned regimental researcher Geoff Crump of the Cheshire Military Museum to look into the history of the two men, who both fell in action in 1916.

Mike said: “This year marks the centenary of the largest battle ever fought in Europe (at the Somme), and it is only fitting that we commemorate that by honouring those local heroes who saw action on the Western Front.

“We have put together an evening not purely of remembrance, but of celebration of the lives and histories of our brave Chester soldiers.”

A researcher at the Military Museum for more than 30 years, Geoff has established that James Henry was a private in the Royal Army Medical Corps.

Albion landlord Mike Mercer and regimental researcher Geoff Crump of the Cheshire Military Museum survey brass plaques commemorating the lives of brothers James Henry and William Ward(Image: Newhall Publications Ltd)

He was attached to the Machine Gun Corps at the Battle of the Somme and was killed aged just 23.

His brother William was a member of the 1st 5th Earl of Chester’s Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, and fell at Neuve Chappell aged 25.

Further details based on Geoff’s research into how the brothers enlisted and served will be featured at a special evening event to coincide with the conclusion of the Battle of the Somme.

The Albion Inn played a historic role for the men of the 1st and 5th Battalion as it was opposite the regimental enlisting centre at the Drill Hall in Albion Street.

Said Mike: “Many a solider enjoyed a pint or a meal in the pub before shipping out to France, and for decades many of those veterans came back to the pub for special events such as this.

“Sadly, the last of these veterans passed away some years ago now, but their memory lives on in the commemorative plaques, histories and war memorabilia that we are proud to maintain here at the pub.”

B company of the Cheshire Regiment leaving the Drill Hall, Albion Street, Chester for Queensferry

The event, which will be held on both October 21 and 22, features dinner and entertainment with songs from the period sung by Verdun mezzo soprano Patricia Hammond, accompanied by Chester impresario and Albion favourite Matt Baker .

Tickets are £30 for a three course meal with wine, plus bubbly for the Queen’s toast and a ‘Benny and Hot’ drink.

For further details call the Albion on 01244 340345.

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