ON our annual trip with the Mid Ulster Branch of the Somme Association to the battlefields of the First World War in France and Belgium I revisited some of the graves of men from Larne and District and also memorials bearing the names of those with no known grave.
Again with the valuable assistance of friends Charles and Blanche Crossan, who live in the Somme area, I was able to visit and pay my respects on behalf of the town of Larne to others I had never been to before.
During the trip, at different places, it was good to meet up with more Lame people who are now coming to see the battlefields and memorials and visit some of the graves.
At the Ulster Tower Memorial I was honoured once again to be accompanied by Ald Jack McKee to lay a poppy wreath on behalf of the town.
Our group paid a visit to Fromelles, where work is underway to recover the bodies of up to 400 British and Australian soldiers from several mass burial plots. A team of archaeologists and DNA experts, with the help of those who think they may have relatives killed in the Battle of Fromelles, are examining the remains in an effort to identify the soldiers before they are reinterred in a new military cemetery being built just across the road from the site.
On our way home from St Omer to Zeebrugge ferry terminal, we called in to Dunkirk and the Second World War Commonwealth war graves cemetery, where an Air Force man, originally from Glenarm, is buried and a soldier from Glynn is commemorated on the memorial. The following are the details of new graves visited:
David English -Sgt. 14th Btn Royal Irish Rifles, killed in action 23rd June, 1917. He was originally from Glenarm. Buried in Messines Ridge Military Cemetery, Belgium.
Andrew Nelson - 2nd Btn. Irish Guards. Killed in action on 13th Sepember, 1916. Aged 19, Andrew was the youngest son of Hugh and Mary of Trafalgar Lane, which was situated at the top of the Roddens at the junction of Upper Cairncastle Road. He was a member of the Unitarian Church in Meeting House Street. Buried in Guards Cemetery, Lesboeufs, Somme.
William John Murray - 1st Btn. Machine Gun Corps. Killed in action on 19th August, 1916. He was a member of First Larne Presbyterian Church. Buried in Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, Somme.
James Simpson - 1st Btn. Auckland Regiment, N.Z.E.F. Killed in action on 30th. September, 1916, aged 34. He was one of three soldier sons of Ann and Robert of Greenland Terrace. His two brothers were also serving in France at the time. James went to New Zealand from South Africa in 1908 and joined the Auckland Regiment. His body was never found and he is commemorated on the New Zealand Memorial in Caterpillar Cemetery on the Somme.
William 0’Regan -7th Btn. Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Killed in action on 27th April, 1916, aged 23. Son of John and Kate 0’Regan of 8 St Johns Place East. On leaving school he wasemployed by Patrick Crawford at Inver Lodge Gardens and was a prominent member of Larne Junior football team. Prior to joining the Army he was in the London Metropolitan Police. At the time of his death his younger brother was on active service with another battalion of the Inniskillings at Salonika. At the bottom of his headstone the inscription reads: R.I.P. Born in Glenariff Co. Antrim 21/2/1893. William is also commemorated on the family grave headstone in Larne Cemetery. He is buried in Philosophe British Cemetery, Pas De Calais, France.
In the same cemetery is buried Reginald Albert Twyford of the East Surrey Regiment, who was only 15 years of age when he was killed.
James Haveron -lst Btn. Royal Irish Rifles, killed in action 9th May, 1915, aged 16. James was posted as missing after the Battle of Rouge Bancs on 9th May, 1915 and his body was never found. Before enlisting he was employed by H. W. Wilson of Drumahoe, Larne. He was a member of Mayflower Lodge IOGT, Kilwaughter. James was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Haveron of 52 Glynn Road, Larne. He is commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial in Belgium along with five other men from Larne.
I have visited this memorial several times and always feel particularly sad as I look at his name on the column, as at 16 years of age he was one of the youngest killed in the war.
As I mentioned earlier, on the way home to the ferry terminal we called in to Dunkirk Cemetery, where the following men are commemorated and buried:
Samuel Craig - Royal Ulster Rifles 2nd Btn. Samuel was never found and his death was given as taking place between 28th May and 2nd June, 1940. He was aged 30 and was the son of Robert and Jane of Glynn. He is commemorated on the memorial in the cemetery.
James Patrick McKay - Observer in Royal Canadian Air Force. Died of wounds received on November, 1941. He was originally from Glenarm. Buried in Dunkirk Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.