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Battle of the Somme - Memorabilia

The anniversary of the First World War 1916 Battle of the Somme is on July 1st.

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Battle of the Somme - Memorabilia

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.)

Officers of 10th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers

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.

Drum used at the Battle of the Somme
Drum used at the Battle of the Somme
The Front Line

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
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.

See also:

Somme hero: Robert Quigg VC 1885 - 1955

Battle of the Somme

Battle of the Somme - Memorabilia

The Larne Fallen

An Enniskillen VC

Lurgan Men in the Great War

World War I: Soldiers of Down

The Peake Brothers at War 1914-18

 

YOUR RESPONSES

Colin Alberry - Feb '08
I am wondering if anyone could help me?
I have a plate from first world war which I know nothing about.

On the front it reads:
'Sleep 0n my brothers
You were England's pride and glory
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 so well.
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 were killed.

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 others aswell?

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.


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