My two boys in first world war uniforms … not so far off the ages of the young boys slaughtered on both sides in the fields of France and Belgium in the first world war.
Taken in the Somme Centre, Newtownards, a dedicated musem to the men of the 36th Ulster division,the 10th and 16th Irish divisons, who fought so valiantly in the senseless slaughter of the first world war.
Taken about ten or eleven or so years ago, Neil is about 7 and Adam about ten. We were on a visit to the Somme Centre": in Newtownards.
It wasn’t very busy and we had personal attention from the guide who gave my boys the first world war uniforms to wear while explaining the history.
The 16th (Irish) Division was a division of the New Army, raised in Ireland but with companys from Britain and Canada. In September 1914 as part of the K2 Army Group. In December 1915, the division moved to France, joining the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), under the command of Irish Major General William Hickie, and spent the duration of the First World War in action on the Western Front. Following enormous losses at the Somme.
The 36th trained at Clandeboye estate in Conlig, Newtownards, where stands Helens Tower a memorial to the Lord Dufferin’s deceased wife.
It has since been recreated in Thiepval , France November 1921, in dedication to the contributions of the 36th Ulster Division during WWI.
The Green Fields Of France
Made up mostly of innocent farm boys and townys and as the story goes, didn’t know their right from left.. so Sergeant Majors used to stuff hay in one boot and straw in the other to differentiate..so instead of left right left .. it was ‘hay fut straw fut’
The 10th (Irish) Division, was a New Army division, one of Kitchener’s New Army K1 Army Group divisions raised largely in Ireland from the Irish National Volunteers in 1914. It was led by General Bryan Mahon and fought at Gallipoli, Salonika and Palestine during the First World War and was the first Irish Division ever to take the field in war.
The 36th (Ulster) Division was a division of Lord Kitchener’s New Army formed in September 1914. Originally called the Ulster Division, it was made up of members of the Ulster Volunteer Force, who formed thirteen additional battalions for three existing Irish regiments: the Royal Irish Fusiliers, the Royal Irish Rifles and the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. The division served on the Western Front for the duration of the First World War.
The division’s insignia was the Red Hand of Ulster.
The 36th was one of the few divisions to make significant gains on the first day on the Somme. It attacked between the Ancre and Thiepval against a position known as the Schwaben Redoubt.
The leading battalions (of the 36th (Ulster) Division) had been ordered out from the wood just before 7.30am and laid down near the German trenches … At zero hour the British barrage lifted. Bugles blew the “Advance”. Up sprang the Ulstermen and, without forming up in the waves adopted by other divisions, they rushed the German front line ….. By a combination of sensible tactics and Ulster dash, the prize that eluded so many, the capture of a long section of the German front line, had been accomplished.
During the Battle of the Somme the Ulster Division was the only division of X Corps to have achieved its objectives on the opening day of the battle. This came at a heavy price, with the division suffering in two days of fighting 5,500 officers and men killed, wounded or missing
9 Victoria Crosses were awarded to the Ulster and Irish divisions at the Somme.
An example was this one …
Robert Quigg was born on February 28, 1885 in the townland of Ardihannon. Ardihannon is located in the Parish of Billy, near the Giants Causeway, County Antrim. His father, Robert Quigg senior, worked as a boatman and tour guide at the Giants Causeway. Young Quigg attended the Giants Causeway National School . Like most young teenage boys from the rural areas of the time, he left school and sought work on local farms. He worked for a number of years on Forsyth’s farm at Turfnahun and also on the MacNaghten Estate at Dunderave. Robert was a prominent member of the local Orange Lodge Aird LOL 1195 ; he played in the flute band. He was also a member of the Royal Black Institution and the William Johnston Memorial RBP 559
In 1912, because of calls for home rule, the Ulster crisis deepened. Unionists perceived Ulster’s constitutional position to be under threat. The constitutional position was a response to the growth of Irish Nationalism and the activities of British Liberal Party. It led to the formation of the Ulster Volunteer Force. At that time, the Ulster Volunteer Force was a legal force which had been empowered to carry out drilling and military preparations, with the proviso that it uphold the constitution. It had nine divisions, based on county. The divisions, in turn, were divided into battalions, companies and platoons. Robert Quigg joined the Ulster Volunteer Force in January, 1913, shortly after its formation. He became commander of the Bushmills Volunteers.
Robert Quigg was awarded the Victoria Cross for his “Most Conspicuous Bravery” at the Battle of the Somme, 1 July 1916. Prior to the major offensive, their unit had been placed in the French village of Hamel, located on the north bank of the River Ancre. On July 1, the Mid-Antrim Volunteers were ordered to advanced through the defenses towards the heavily defended German lines. During the advance, they encountered fierce resistance from heavy machine-gun and shell fire. Quigg’s Platoon made three advances during the day, only to be beaten back on each occasion by German fire. The final evening assault left many hundreds of the 12th Battalion lying dead and wounded in “No Man’s Land”. In the early hours of the next morning, it was reported that Lieutenant Harry Macnaughten, the Platoon commander was missing; Robert Quigg volunteered to go out into “No Man’s Land” to try and locate him. He went out seven times to search for the missing officer, without success. On each occasion, he came under machine-gun fire, but he managed to return with a wounded colleague. It was reported that, on one of his forays, he crawled within yards of the German position in order to rescue a wounded soldier, whom he dragged back on a waterproof groundsheet. After seven hours of trying, exhaustion got the better of him; Robert had to rest from his efforts. The body of Lieutenant Harry Macnaghten was never recovered.
On 8 January 1917, Robert received his Victoria Cross from King George V, at York Cottage, Sandringham. Queen Mary was also in attendance. Upon his return to Bushmills, the people of the town and district turned out in force to welcome him home, including the Macnaghten household. Lady Macnaghten presented him with a gold watch in recognition of his bravery in attempting to find and rescue her son, Lieutenant Harry Macnaghten. Robert reached the rank of Sergeant before retiring from the army in 1926 (after he was badly injured in an accident). Later, in 1953, two years before he died, he met the newly crowned Queen Elizabeth II. Robert Quigg died on 14 May 1955 at Ballycastle, County Antrim. He was buried in Billy Parish Churchyard, with full military honour. His statue now stands in Bushmills town centre.
Minolta x-300 T max 400 aged in the darkroom