The breaking of the news in Accrington of the tragedy that had befallen its Pals battalion on 1st July 1916 was witnessed by Edith Roughsedge, at the time an 8-year-old girl living with her parents in their fish & chip shop on the corner of Maudsley Street and Arnold Street.
Street map showing the route that the women took from Horne Street to the shop on the corner of Maudsley Street and Arnold Street owned by William and Mary Roughsedge. © Andrew C Jackson 2017
A troop train, very possibly carrying wounded soldiers back from the Somme, came to a halt on the elevated track at the north end of Horne Street. Windows were opened, and soldiers called down to women in Horne Street, asking where they were. On hearing the reply "Accrington", they called out "Accrington Pals! They've been wiped out!" The distraught women ran with the news to the nearest open premises, Edith's parents' shop, where the lunchtime-trade was just beginning. Edith was there to hear the story, while her younger sister, Annie, was only aware that a commotion was taking place in the shop.
The events preyed on Edith's mind in her childhood; as an adult she wouldn't speak of it, and became a life-long pacifist. It was her sister, Annie, who told the story to Edith's daughter, Enid, having heard it herself, often-repeated and never varying.
This account comes thanks to Edith's daughter, Enid Briggs.