Lest we forget: Events commemorate 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme

Alderman Mark Cosgrove, Cllr Trevor Beatty, Mayor John Scott, Alderman Mandy Girvan and Deputy Mayor Noreen McClelland at The Ulster Tower, Thiepval. INNT 27-507CON

Alderman Mark Cosgrove, Cllr Trevor Beatty, Mayor John Scott, Alderman Mandy Girvan and Deputy Mayor Noreen McClelland at The Ulster Tower, Thiepval. INNT 27-507CON

Wreaths were laid on behalf of the people of Antrim and Newtownabbey at events to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.

Mayor John Scott and Deputy Mayor Noreen McClelland led a council delegation to France last week where they took part in special events to mark the 100th anniversary of the bloody First World War battle, which claimed the lives of thousands of men from across Ireland.

Danny Kinahan MP lays a wreath at the war memorial on Lismenary Road, Ballynure during the service of remembrance to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme. INNT 26-510-SO Pics by Shirley O'Neill

Danny Kinahan MP lays a wreath at the war memorial on Lismenary Road, Ballynure during the service of remembrance to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme. INNT 26-510-SO Pics by Shirley O'Neill

During the four-day trip, Cllr Scott, Cllr McClelland, Alderman Mark Cosgrove, Alderman Mandy Girvan and Cllr Trevor Beatty visited a number of war cemeteries in the Somme region and laid wreaths at The Ulster Memorial Tower and Guillemont.

“It was an honour to represent the council at the Somme centenary commemorations in Guillemont, France over the weekend. It was an emotional tour and it was a proud moment for me to lay a wreath on behalf of the people of Antrim and Newtownabbey,” Cllr Scott commented.

At home there were also a number of special events held to remember those who fought at the Somme, particularly the brave men of the 36th (Ulster) Division and 16th (Irish) Division, many of whom were killed or injured during the ‘Big Push’.

In Ballynure on Friday morning (July 1), local people were joined by clergy and political and community representatives at the war memorial on Lismenary Road at 7.30am for a special service of remembrance.

Richard Wallace gives a reading at the Somme centenary commemoration service in Ballynure on July 1. INNT 26-513-SO

Richard Wallace gives a reading at the Somme centenary commemoration service in Ballynure on July 1. INNT 26-513-SO

Among those who laid wreaths at the war memorial during the service was South Antrim MP Danny Kinahan.

The former Army officer described those who served at the Somme as “heroes who we should all be saluting.”

DUP MLA Paul Girvan said it had been an honour to attend the event.

“It was great that the whole community backed the event and it was a fitting way to remember a very tragic day in Ulster’s history when so many men lost their lives,” he commented.

Danny Kinahan MP, Cllr David Arthurs, Cllr Vera McWilliam and Cllr Jim Bingham were among those who attended the Somme centenary commemoration service in Ballynure on July 1. INNT 26-511-SO

Danny Kinahan MP, Cllr David Arthurs, Cllr Vera McWilliam and Cllr Jim Bingham were among those who attended the Somme centenary commemoration service in Ballynure on July 1. INNT 26-511-SO

Alliance leader David Ford, who also attended the service, said we must never forget the sacrifice of those who died at the Battle of the Somme.

“Each generation should be reminded of the sacrifice made by their forefathers, so we can learn from mistakes and ensure the slaughter is not repeated,” he said.

Other local commemorations held on Friday, July 1 included events at the County Antrim War Memorial (Knockagh Monument) and Carnmoney Cemetery organised by Rathfern Friends of the Fallen.

On Sunday, July 3 the Ballyclare branch of the Royal British Legion held its Somme centenary parade.

Heads bowed during the act of remembrance at the RBL Somme centenary service in Ballyclare War Memorial Park. INNT 27-807CON

Heads bowed during the act of remembrance at the RBL Somme centenary service in Ballyclare War Memorial Park. INNT 27-807CON

The event saw RBL members, current and former service personnel, local church leaders and political and community representatives march though the town before gathering in the War Memorial Park for a service of remembrance and wreath laying ceremony at the cenotaph.

The local events were among many which took place around the world to mark the 100th anniversary of one of the bloodiest battles in human history.

The Battle of the Somme began at 7.30am on July 1, 1916 and lasted for 141 days, resulting in over one million casualties on all sides.