Below is an original article which was submitted to the Bradford Telegraph and Argus and was subsequently printed on 11 March 2015. The article and some of the photographs/documents are reproduced here with the kind permission of David Whithorn.  
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16/772 Corporal Allen Lee
  
Last week Bradford Pals enthusiast, David Whithorn, could not believe his eyes and luck when he spotted a set of medals simply listed to ‘Pte A.Lee 16-772 W.Yorks Regt’ on EBay. ‘I put all I could afford into saving these from dealers, I knew exactly what these were and represented’ he said and was delighted to ‘win’ them. 
 
‘I immediately contacted the vendor who then kindly searched among the effects he had just been given of a recently deceased old lady and he sent me a pack of photographs and documents to go with the medals’. The photographs and documents have helped David piece together the life and very tragic story of this soldier – Allen Lee of the 1st Bradford Pals…
  
Allen Lee was born in 1888 in Brighouse. The family had moved to West Bowling by 1901.  Allen and his elder brother, William, would become Dyer’s labourers at the Bowling Dye Works. Also working there at this time in the same department was Edgar Nicholl.  Through Edgar, Allen met Lily Nicholl and in 1911, they married. They lived in Round St, West Bowling and they would have a daughter, Mary, born in November 1914.
16/772 Pte Allen Lee, 1st Bradford Pals ca. 1915
Lilly Lee with daughter Mary.
 Above: Allen Lee's Medals
​Below: Medal index Card
In Bradford at the outbreak of war in August 1914, there was a rush to join the colours. The formation of the ‘Bradford Battalion’ in September saw 1000 Bradford men join and complete the battalion in a week. Allen, William and Edgar all tried to enlist together. Only Allen and Edgar would be accepted. Allen Lee thus became 16/772 Pte A.Lee, 16th WYR (1st Bradford Pals). ‘In the package were photographs of Lee in the first dark blue uniform of the ‘Pals’, a photograph too of a group of ‘Pals’ in civilian clothing all wearing the famous Bradford Pals lapel badges’. ‘These are rare and historically important photographs’, David added.
 
Pte Lee arrived in Egypt with the rest of the Pals in December 1915 and came back to France in March 1916 when their War Diary begins. An entry on 6th June 1916 gives that ‘772 Pte Lee ‘D’Coy’ was granted home leave. ‘However he was back with the Pals for the fatal attack at Serre on 1st July 1916 when with his company he attacked from Bradford Trench and in this attack, Lee was wounded’, David said.
 
A letter from Lee to his wife dated 28th July gives he was at Whitehill hospital in Scotland. His wife had sent him copies of the Bradford Daily Telegraph in which were appearing increasing numbers of the photographs of the Bradford Pals who had been killed or wounded in that devastating attack that July morning. Lee writes:
 
‘I have received the papers and I thank you very much. There are still a great many men missing who went over on July first. I have wrote a list out of my own section and fourteen section and not half of them have been mentioned in the paper’

Allen Lee returned to the Bradford Pals in France. ‘Both battalions of the Bradford Pals were disbanded in early 1918 and Lee found himself now part of the 15/17th West Yorks, formerly the Leeds Pals’, David added.
 
In March 1918, this composite battalion would effectively cease to exist in a week facing the massive German Spring Offensive. Cpl Lee would be captured along with hundreds of the 15/17 West Yorks at a last stand in the village of Moyenville. ‘Here in the package was even the little blue card Lee had posted back to his family informing them he was now a prisoner of war’.
 
‘At this point I could not realise just how tragic this story would now become’, David said. ‘The next card in the package was formal notification from Switzerland to Mrs Lee that Allen Lee had died in the prison camp hospital in July 1918 and he had been buried in the cemetery at Berlaimont.’ ‘What makes this so tragic is the date of this card, 9/11/18, this would have arrived in Bradford about a week afterwards.’ ‘Bradford would have been celebrating the Armistice, the Lee family looking forward to Allen coming home any time soon’. ‘Then this card arrived…we simply cannot imagine today the reaction this card would have caused.’ ‘Even a century on, it brings tears to your eyes.’ David said.
 
‘The final realisation brought everything that I had discovered home to me, The ‘old lady’ who had recently died, her once precious things now being sold on, was indeed Mary, the daughter of Allen and Lily Lee’. ‘Mary died on Christmas day last year, just a month after her 100th birthday and now these things had come to me.’ ‘Mary was probably the last child of a Bradford Pal who lost his life in the Great War – my duty in finding these medals like this was now very clear.’
 
‘I have followed the story of the Bradford Pals all my life.’ David said. ‘It will be an honour for me to look after these items for the rest of my own life and tell others the story behind them.’ ‘Already I have shared this discovery with both the Bradford WW1 Research Group and the PWO Yorkshire Regiment Museum so this information will now be preserved.’
 
‘But best of all,’ David added,’ These medals, papers and story will now be coming with me each July to France as I take school parties around the Great War battlefields’. ‘The high point comes when I take the party to Serre, to stand where the ‘Pals’ stood that fateful July morning and tell so many young people the story of the Bradford Pals – one they will get to know better thanks to these discoveries.’ ‘The story of Allen Lee, his family and the Pals is one they will not forget!’
 
David P.Whithorn
25/2/15

16/772 Corporal Allen Lee is buried in grave number C.10 at the BERLAIMONT COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION in France.