Remember our brave, tough lads of The First World War

Lest they forget. Joe Shute takes a closer look at an exhibition keeping alive the memories of the local soldiers who served in the First World War

Bankfield Museum has unveiled the second phase in its dramatic history of the Duke of Wellington Regiment.

It pays tribute to thousands of local soldiers who fought in the Great War and reveals what life was like for the average Tommy.

It is also a moving testimony to the 8,383 Halifax-based Dukes who lost their lives on the battlefields of France and Belgium.

The first phase of the exhibition, covering the Dukes through the Second World War to modern day, was unveiled in 2005.

John Spencer, curator of the museum, said: "It is impossible to imagine what experiences those soldiers went through. But it was obviously hell there in that mud. It was a nightmare and we want to show young peopletoday what it was like.

"There were 6,500 Dukes that left for war in November 1914. The impact that had was huge and we wanted to replicate it for today's children.

"We are hoping the whole exhibition will show these soldiers' experiences. Songs, stories and letters home are a big part of the project. We are very pleased with it."

Bankfield Museum is the regimental museum of the former Duke of Wellington Regiment who were controversially amalgamated into The Yorkshire Regiment in June 2006 after a long and distinguished history.

"The Dukes were known as one of the toughest regiments around and had such a rich history," said Mr Spencer.

There are also taped recordings of Private Arthur Barraclough, of the First Fourth Halifax TA Battalion, who died aged 106 in 2004 and served through the horrors of the Battle of the Somme.

The centrepiece of the exhibition, which has attracted a lot of interest, is a room that has been transformed into a lifelike front-line trench with soldiers standing guard, sandbags and First World War songs that kept up the spirits.

"We have a model of a German soldier with a machine gun and a British soldier with a rifle and bayonet at the entrance and an old target range that says 'every shot a Hun's eye'. They couldn't waste their bullets," he added.

Former Duke Major David Harrap said: "Nearly every family in Calderdale will have had a relative who was involved.

"They were such an important part of the community, particularly in the First World War and it is wonderful to have an exhibition reflecting that."

The exhibition was opened by former MP for Halifax Alice Mahon and the first visitors were pupils from Holy Trinity Senior School, Holmfield, Halifax.

It is hoped by the end of the year that third and final stage of the exhibition which records a history of the Regiment, from its beginnings in 1702 will be completed.