I though this was likely to be a good book when I saw the name of the author. Andrew Jackson has, for many years, operated a website about the Accrington Pals, the 11th (Service) Battalion of the East Lancashire Regiment. It is a model of clarity and good research, and unlike many of the other works on this unit covers all of the "pals" story and not just the dreadful day of 1 July 1916. For any aspiring researcher of a unit, a battle or a war memorial, you would profit from looking at Jackson's work as a standard to be achieved.
In "Accrington's Pals: the full story", Andrew Jackson provides us with a much broader view of the war experience of the Lancashire town of Accrington and the men of nearby Chorley, Burnley and Blackburn who joined the ranks of the Accrington-raised units. He naturally focuses on the "pals" but brings into the story a much less well-known unit, the 158th (Accrington & Burnley) Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery. These were far from the only units into which men of the area served in the war: many had enlisted into the regular army or Territorials long before recruitment began for the "pals; many were conscripted into other units from 1916 onwards. These men receive relatively little coverage in the war but they are put into context to help explain the war experience of the town and not just its locally raised units.
The book is well written and engaging, taking us from pre-war days and providing non-Lancastrians with a good idea of the area and life there in 1914, through the days of enlistment and training and out into the theatre of war. In a sense, the climax comes early as the Accrington Pals went into action at Serre on the first day of the Somme, and suffered terribly heavy losses. Things were never quite the same again for the battalion but Jackson reveals that the local nature of the battalion remained for much of the war. The experience of the artillery brigade, a howitzer unit, was inevitably different but it too had its tragedies and triumphs and all are covered here.