Written by Brian Willis
The anniversary of the First World War 1916 Battle of the Somme is on July 1st. I've been to the United Services Club, Limavady to see some of the memorabilia they have there of that terrible battle.
Recruiting began for the 10th Battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in September 1914 and as the numbers swelled so they were sent for training at Finner Camp, Ballyshannon. There were four Companies - two from Derry city, one from Limavady and one from Coleraine.
This photo was taken in October 1914 and shows the Officers of 10th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (Formerly the 2nd North Derry Regiment U.V.F.)
Standing :- W.Moon, J. Douglas, G. Austen, J. Cooke, M. Robertson, C.N.L.Strong, J.McClure W.Wakely, L. Ritter, J. Drennan, H.McConachie, R. Wilton
Seated :- R.S.Knox, F.C.B.Trench, F.S.H.Macrory, Col.Ross Smyth, R.E.Toker Adjt., R.Waring Smyth, J. Miller, J.Kendall Q'master
Front row :- H. Gaussen, K.McKenzie
By May of 1915 the 10th Battalion was over a thousand strong and they set off to join the other battalions at Randlestown. These were the 9th (Tyrone), the 11th (Donegal and Fermanagh) and the YCVs (Belfast). Together this body made up the 109th Brigade of the Ulster Division. The Division left for France on 15th July 1915.
The Front Line
Drum used at the Battle of the Somme
In February 1916 the Division engaged in its first front line fighting at a section held by the 15th Irish Rifles.
Months later, on 1st of July 1916 the 10th Battalion, along with thousands of their comrades advanced on a 25 mile front across the no-mans land and up the Thiepval Ridge.
At their head a drum. This drum is now in Limavady.
There was something else at their head too. For some of the soldiers had cobbled their shirts together and fashioned this makeshift "Derrys" flag which now hangs in a place of honour in the United Services Club in Limavady. Each individual letter appears to be cut from sacking which had been stitched onto the base. When I first saw this "Flag" many years ago the lettering was much whiter (With Blanco perhaps?) but this colour has now faded and it is very hard to discern the word.
Shirts sewn together to make a 'Derrys' flag
The rest, as they say, is history. On that one day, upwards of 20,000 men died. The greatest loss of life in a single day in the history of the British Army. Twelve of the twenty-two officers in the above photo also died that day.
After the event, Captain Wilfrid Spender of the Ulster Division's HQ staff, was quoted in the press as saying.... "I am not an Ulsterman but yesterday, the 1st. July, as I followed their amazing attack, I felt that I would rather be an Ulsterman than anything else in the world".
Thanks to Richard Rathfield, Manager of Limavady United Services Club,
for help in preparing this article.
hero: Robert Quigg VC 1885 - 1955
of the Somme
of the Somme - Memorabilia
Men in the Great War
War I: Soldiers of Down
Peake Brothers at War 1914-18
Colin Alberry - Feb '08
I am wondering if anyone could help me?
I have a plate from first world war which I know nothing
On the front
'Sleep 0n my brothers
You were England's pride
E exhausted you fell down opon the way.
Your peaceful slumber shall not be disturbed here.
By lamentations,till the dawn of that eternal day.
When at our fathers bidding you shall rise refreshed
there on yonder shore,
Surrounded by the ones you loved
Who now are left to weep and mourin their loss so grievous
And murmur midst their tears for home and land he fell.'
Elizabeth Muriel Cambie.
On the back it reads:
'A day of memory and sunshine at Wymering Manor For
the widows and children of the Heroes of the British
Isles who fought so nobly and died for Their KING and
COUNTRY A.S.M 1916'
Maria - Mar '07
crap it dont help me with anything it jst has little
bits of information what if your studying a battle?
you dont get the full story its pathetic!! GRRR
Clare Sadler - Nov '06
It's very exiting and interesting to read. for my friend
she says it looks interesting and i find the subject
of the battle of somme superb, again it is very interesting.
It is in good shape and would read it every day if you
kept it like this. It is a great memorial for those
who lost their lives.
Gordon Blevins - Oct '06
The PLACE Initiative in Portadown are arranging a small
event around the Somme in November 2006 (short notice)
we would like to have a small exhibition of World War
1 memorabila If you would be interested are know anyone
who would considered exhibiting any material i would
be grateful if you could contact me at The PLACE Initiative
1b Address Park Rectory Portadown, Co Armagh Northern
Ireland. BT62 3TP tel 02838337458
Regards Gordon Blevins.
David Ford, Perth, Western Australia.
- May '06
My father was in the 6th Inniskilling Dragoons. He died
in 1952 when I was 9 years old, so I never found out
much about his war history other than a few anecdotes
passed on by my mother and older sister, I was fortunate
to meet my aunt, his younger sister, a few years ago,
and she also passed on a story about a detachment sent
to "draw fire" to enable enemy guns to be
spotted. Dad wasn't hurt, although others in the group
After the war he and my mother moved to Western Australia,
where I now live. My family have visited our Fermanagh
relations three times, including the "äncestral"
place at Coolbuck, and his later boyhood farm site at
Lisnagole. Are there any accounts of the Dragoons in
WW1? I'd love to know.
April Watts - April '06
I find history so interesting. I am 14 years old and
I am going to take it for GCSE next year. I can't belieive
what happened at The Battle of the Somme. How horrific!
Well done on the article, very grabbing!
Christopher Gallagher - November '05
I would love to visit this place in limavady i think
you should contact glenn barr at the ebringtone centre
in derry he would love the young people to visit it.
It sounds exciting to see those things on show, is there
Linda Mooney - Nov 05
My grandfather was in the Inniskillings. He died before
the Somme in April1916. I feel that those who died before
the Somme have been forgotten and, to a large extent,
ignored. He has no known grave which makes his loss
all the more difficult as there is no grave to visit.
I'd like to know more. e.g. what was the training like?
where did he train (he was from Belfast)?, what would
have happened to his body? Can anyone help? I know his
name is on the Menin Gate.
Rosemary Groom - June '05
My father A Ewing served in the Royal inniskilling Fusiliers
and I have tried so hard to find out some info on his
career but whith no success. Dad came from Sixmilecoss
and served for 12 years. Please can anyone out there
who could send me in the right direction. Many thanks.
So glad I found your site so many memories from when
I used to live in Tyrone. Rosemary.
Mike Hunt - February '05
These items are extraordinary. Congratualtions on keeping
them in such good shape.