Townsend Presbyterian Church 1833 -1970

Townsend Presbyterian Church 1833 -1970 

“Our greatest need is for a larger sense of responsibility for our church and her welfare on the part of every church member and more workers, more people, who are prepared to give their time and talents to the work of God and the service of their fellows in this place.”

(Refer to: Townsend Street Presbyterian Church 150th Anniversary, History of the Congregation, p60)

(Quote by, Rev. John Worthington Johnston. This man of God was installed in the Townsend Presbyterian Church on 28th March 1935. He was a Chaplain in the Parachute Regiment 1939-45.   When at war Professor J. Wilson took charge of the congregation. The quote above was written in a letter by the Rev. Captain John Worthington Johnston in 1945. The Rev. Worthington Johnston also wrote a book of poetry called, “The poems of a Parachute Padre”, first published in Belfast in 1943).

The door into the Church – Is still open in 2016


General Timeline for the history of the Townsend Presbyterian Church 1833-1970*

*The Church still continues in its work to the present day

 

    • 1833 – October 22nd – The Foundation Stone of the old church building is laid down by the Marquis of Donegall. Rev, George Belis opened the special ceremony, Rev. Dr. Hanna offered up a prayer and Rev. Dr. Henry Cooke delivered an address. Rev. Dr. Morgan concluded with prayer and the benediction. These ministers were all famous figures in 19th Century Belfast.
      “The company had not left the ground when there appeared a very beautiful rainbow – one of the most perfect we ever saw – which seemed suspended, as it was undoubtedly over the spot thus dedicated.”  Newspaper report quoted in, Rev. James McCaw Townsend Street Presbyterian Church Belfast, 1833-1933, p16.

 

    • 1835 – April 26th – The church was opened by Rev. Dr. Mcleod of Glasgow

 

    • 1836 – Rev. Josias Wilson of Drogheda becomes the first Minister

 

    • 1838 – The Church is re-opened by the Rev. Cooke and Rev. Morgan

 

    • 1841 – January 21st – The school buildings are opened

 

    • 1844 – October 28th – Rev. John Weir of Newry becomes the second Minister

 

    • 1847 – September 21st – Rev. William Johnston is installed as the new Minister

 

    • 1866 – January 1st – Henry Louden an elder of the church leaves to the church a generous gift of property for the orphans

 

    • 1876 – December 4th – The Townsend congregation is worshipping in the Working Men’s Institute as a new church is under construction

 

    • 1877 – August 25th – The foundation for the new church is laid and a speech is given by one Mr. John Sinclair from New York

 

    • 1877 – September 21st – Lecture hall and school buildings opened

 

    • 1878 – October 9th – The new church was completed and it cost an estimated sum of £11,210 13s 9d

 

    • 1879 – January – The Church Gate and the railing at the front of the Church were erected to remember Dr. Henry Martyn Johnston

 

    • 1892 – September Rev James McGranahan of Larne becomes the Minister of the Church

 

    • 1902 – June 17th Rev William Corkey from Cullybackey becomes the Minister of the Church

 

    • 1913 – Individual Communion Cups donated as a gift by Mr. R. McDowell

 

    • 1914 – February 8th – Stained Glass windows erected to the memory of Rev. William Johnston and Mrs. Sarah Johnston and to Dr. Henry Martyn Johnston and Mrs Frank Johnston by Mr. R.T. Martin. Further to the memory of Mr. and Mrs. Martin Wallace by Mr. M. Luther Wallace. The windows were unveiled by the Rev. James McGranahan

 

    • 1920 – November 1st – Freewill offering system introduced

 

    • 1921 – November 13th Opening of Grand Organ and unveiling of Tablets in memory of the men from the Townsend Congregation who had volunteered to fight in the First World War 1914-18.  This point is noted in the work Townsend Street Presbyterian Church 150th Anniversary History book, p10. “In the Nation’s hour of need Townsend Street Church played a part worthy of its great history. When the tocsin of war sounded in 1914 some 220 members of the congregation volunteered for active service of whom 36 made the supreme sacrifice. The congregation installed a Memorial Organ and Commemorative Tablet at a cost of £4000.”  Quote by Rev. Dr. T.J. Simpson Moderator of the Presbyterian Assembly.

 

    • 1922 – March 15th – Stained glass window is erected by Mrs. R.T. Martin to the memory of her husband, Mr. R.T. Martin and her son Lieut. John S. Martin. This window was dedicated by the Rev. J.R. Prenter.

 

    • 1924 – July 9th – Rev. W.G. Wimperis becomes the Minister of the Church

 

    • 1930 – July – Restoration of the Church buildings. This is noted in the Church history, “The contractors for the stonework were Messrs. Dreyfus London, for the reconstruction, Messrs. Cairns, Belfast for the painting, Messrs Geo. Morrow and Son, Belfast and for the electrical work, Messrs. Graham and Zebedee, Belfast. Mr. W.J. MacGeagh, Ocean Buildings was the architect.”
      (Refer to Townsend Street Presbyterian Street 150th Anniversary History of the Congregation, p46. This was a time in the history of Northern Ireland when there was an economic depression. The church raised in 1930 £5,000. This was quite a feat at the time. “Every organisation in connection with the church did its bit.”)

 

    • 1930 – October 30th – The reconstructed buildings are re-opened and used

 

    • 1932 – September 29th – Rev J.T. Hall is installed as the new Minister

 

    • 1935 – March 5th – Rev. John Worthington Johnston is called to Townsend Street to become the new Minister

 

    • 1939 – September 3rd – The Second World War begins. The Rev. J.W. Johnston volunteers for service as a Chaplain in the British Army

 

    • 1941 – The air raids over Belfast – The Belfast Blitz impacts upon the City of Belfast with deadly results.

      Blue plaque remembering Wilhelmina Geddes

 

    • 1943 – Rev. J.W. Johnston injured on war service

 

    • 1944 – April – The War Memorial Hall Fund is inaugurated

 

    • 1951- November 11th – Two War Memorial Tablets unveiled in memory of those who lost their lives by enemy action and to those who served in the War, whose names are inscribed thereon

 

    • 1952 – September – Rev. W.D.F. Marshall becomes the Minister of the Church

 

    • 1954 – June 6th – A Stained glass window is erected by the congregation to the memory of Rev. J.W. Johnston and is dedicated by the Rev. Principal J. E. Davey

 

    • 1965 – January 12th – The Rev. S.J. McCollum is installed as the new minister

 

    • 1970 – June 9th – Rev. W.M. Jackson becomes the new Minister

 

As we have read since, 1833 this Church has worked for God in the area.

By David N.K. Murphy, History Hub Ulster Member

 

Messines: The Road to the Ridge

The Road to The Ridge #Messines100

At the start of 1917, both the 16th (Irish) and 36th (Ulster) divisions were part of IX Corps in the British Second Army, commanded by General Plumer.
The year 1916 had seen two of the three Kitchener divisions raised in Ireland taking hammerings in the Battle of the Somme and other engagements on the Western Front.

Following the heavy losses, consideration was given to amalgamating the 16th (Irish) and 36th (Ulster) divisions due, in part, to insufficient reserves and a drop-off in enlistment in Ireland. There were political and military objections to this move and it was abandoned. However, the divisions still had to be brought up to strength and this was achieved by drafting in men from, primarily, English regiments and both divisions received companies from the Channel Isles, segregated, of course!

It is ironic that this decision resulted in both divisions losing their local identify during 1917.  This is apparent from a letter from Major Nugent to his wife dated 21st May 1917:

“I got a parcel of socks from Mrs Blackley in Cavan for the division but the scream of the matter is that Mrs Blackley sent them out through Lady MacDonald’s Committee instead of the Ulster one.” [Lady MacDonald’s Committee primarily provided comforts for the Irish Division.] “The dear ones of Ulster will become purple with indignation. The socks, of course, are contaminated and infected and unfit for an Ulsterman to wear, so I must give them to the Englishmen who compose nearly half of the ‘Ulster Division’!”

9th Royal Irish Fusiliers Football Team, Blacker’s Boys

Football matches were played throughout the war and the team from 9th Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers had a particularly fine record – they played 39 games, winning 30, scoring 137 goals and conceding 26.  On 25th April 1917, they defeated the team from 6th Connaught Rangers by 2 goals to nil, following that victory with 5 nil wins over the 9th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers on 5th May and  the 7th/8th Royal Irish Fusiliers on 12th May 1917.  A newspaper report on one of the inter-divisional matches recorded one wag from the 9th as saying “I wonder whether we will be disciplined for fraternising with the enemy”.  This was an allusion to the political origins of the two divisions … they probably kicked lumps out of each other during the games, but a few weeks later they would be on the same side taking lumps out of the German Army!

The Battle of Messines (7th to 14th June 1917) was a brilliantly planned and executed attack that resulted in the capture of the Wytschaete-Messines ridge south of Ypres, a feature that had given the British problems since 1914 and which was important to hold for future offensive operations in Flanders. It was one of the few successful stand-alone battles of the Great War.
As usual, the battle was preceded by several days of heavy bombardments and the detonating of 22 mines under German trenches – four of mines failed to detonate, one in the ground over which the 16th (Irish) Division was to attack. IX Corps attacked the ridge over a frontage of 6,400 yards, with the 16th (Irish) Division in the centre and flanked by the 19th (Western) Division on their left and the 36th (Ulster) Division on their right.

The 16th and 36th divisions captured the town of Wytschaete and the final consolidated line was, in places, 1000 yards beyond their final objectives – the “Black Line” from Lumm Farm on the map.

Private Jack Christie from the Shankill area of Belfast, who had been a member of the UVF, was a stretcher bearer and said this of his comrades in the 16th division, “We should not allow politics to blind us to the truth about things, bravery and loyalty is not all on one side. We had the greatest respect for the 16th, except for the odd hardliner, but great regard for the 16th”.

Another stretcher-bearer from the Ulster Division demonstrated that political allegiance had no place on the battlefield. Private John Meeke of the 11th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers was awarded the Military Medal for rescuing Major Willie Redmond of the 16th Division – the Nationalist MP for East Clare, a member of Irish Volunteers and the brother of John Redmond, the leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party.

Private Meeke, who had enlisted on 11th March 1916, was searching the battlefield for the wounded when he happened to see Major Redmond fall. Despite heavy machine-gun and artillery fire, Meeke made his way to Redmond’s position to render assistance, taking shelter in shell holes and other cover on the way. He arrived at the Major’s side without injury, and found him seriously wounded in the left knee and right arm at the elbow and weak from loss of blood. Meeke had one of the wounds dressed, and was working at the other, when a piece of shrapnel struck him on the left side, inflicting a serious wound. He was hit a second time but this did not deter him from his work, which he completed despite his injury. Meeke disobeyed a direct order from Major Redmond to leave him and struggled across the battlefield with his charge until he met up with Lieutenant Charles Paul and a party from the 11th Royal Irish Rifles who were escorting German prisoners to the rear. Together they got Major Redmond to the casualty clearing station located in the Catholic Hospice at Locre but he died later that afternoon.  John Meeke’s brother, Samuel, died of acute pulmonary tuberculosis on 19th January 1919, a fortnight after arriving home, and his grave in Derrykeighan Old Graveyard is marked by a Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone.

John Meeke was discharged due to wounds on 23rd June 1919, aged 25, with Silver War Badge number 506596 and died on 7th December 1923, being buried close to Samuel, whose headstone records John’s death. More recently, a public subscription organised by Robert Thompson resulted in the erection of a headstone to record details of John Meeke’s act of heroism.

Battle of Messines fatalities

Whilst it is always difficult to accurately determine fatalities for a particular engagement or battle, the following are details of fatalities between 7th and 14th June 1917 where the men are buried or memorialised in Belgium. It does not include men who died of wounds in the days and weeks after the end of the battle and, whilst there were also men who died of wounds in France during the period of the battle (for example Second Lieutenant Brian Boyd MM of the 14th Royal Irish Rifles), they have not been included as it is not always possible to identify whether the wounds were incurred during the battle or preceding the battle.

British forces incurred 3,835 fatalities during the period of the battle, of which 383 (or 10%) came from the eight Irish infantry regiments, and Dominion forces suffered 2,075 fatalities. There would, undoubtedly, have been Irishmen and Ulstermen who died with the Dominion forces and with non-Irish regiments in the British Army.

Of the 383 fatalities from the Irish infantry regiments, 144 were from the 16th Division, 186 from the 36th Division, with the remaining 53 being from regular battalions of the Leinster Regiment (24th Division) and Royal Irish Rifles (25th Division).

For the 16th Division fatalities, 24 men were born in the province of Ulster, 56 were born in Great Britain, Guernsey and Malta, and 64 were born in other parts of Ireland – 39% of the fatalities were not born in Ireland.

For the 36th Division fatalities, 103 men were born in the province of Ulster, 66 were born in Great Britain, two were born in the United States of America, and 15 were born in other parts of Ireland – 36% of the fatalities were not born in Ulster.

For the 24th and 25th divisions, 15 men were born in the province of Ulster, 22 were born in other parts of Ireland, and 16 were born in Great Britain – 30% of the fatalities were not born in Ireland.

Of the 142 Ulster-born fatalities with Irish regiments,

    • 57 born in Belfast
    • 19 born in County Antrim
    • 18 born in County Down
    • 13 born in County Tyrone
    • 10 born in County Londonderry
    • 9 born in County Armagh
    • 8 born in County Donegal
    • 5 born in County Fermanagh
    • 3 born in County Cavan

     

    • 1 died serving with Connaught Rangers
    • 2 died serving with Leinster Regiment
    • 1 died serving with Machine Gun Corps
    • 3 died serving with Royal Dublin Fusiliers
    • 32 died serving with Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
    • 11 died serving with Royal Irish Fusiliers
    • 2 died serving with Royal Irish Regiment
    • 89 died serving with Royal Irish Rifles
    • 1 died serving with Royal Munster Fusiliers

     

    • 24 died serving with 16th (Irish) Division
    • 15 died serving with 24th and 25th divisions
    • 103 died serving with 36th (Ulster) Division

*Fatality statistics based on data held on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and Soldiers Died in the Great War databases.
*Additional material from “Blacker’s Boys” by Nick Metcalfe and “Ulster will Fight – Volume 2” by David Truesdale (published for The Somme Museum)

By Nigel Henderson, History Hub Ulster member.

Shankill Messines 100 – 10th June 2017

Please come along to support SHANKILL MESSINES 100 at Townsend Street Presbyterian Church on Sat 10th June.

10:30am Re-dedication of Shankill Road Mission Memorial
10:45am Presentation: Shankill Messines 100 by History Hub Ulster member Nigel Henderson

All day:
– Exhibition: Shankill Messines 100
– Exhibition: Poetry from the Streets
– Exhibition: Castleton Lanterns
– Exhibition: Argyle Business Centre’s new Titanic Themed training hotel

WW1 PHOTO RESTORATION PROJECT WINS HERITAGE LOTTERY FUND SUPPORT

Campbell College Belfast has received £90,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a major restoration and education project titled, The Men Behind the Glass.  Working alongside the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) and involving a cross-section of schools and communities throughout East Belfast, this project seeks to protect WW1 heritage held at the College and improve its interpretation by opening up the College archives for all.

In the Central Hall at Campbell College the photographs of 126 pupils and one member of staff who lost their lives in WW1 sit embedded in the wood panelled walls.  Deteriorating over time these images need to be preserved and digitally restored before they are lost forever.  ‘The Men Behind the Glass’ will seek to protect these images, whilst uncovering the real life stories behind these men.

PRONI will work with the College to preserve and safeguard this important collection of photographs and create digital copies that will allow the College maximise opportunities for public interaction with the images and the stories behind them.

Mr Robert Robinson, MBE, Headmaster at Campbell College commented, “We are delighted to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund.  This initiative will open up our archive, utilising it as a tool for learning for the wider community.  It will bring these individual histories to life for every generation in East Belfast, discovering untold stories and keeping these stories alive for future generations.”

Mukesh Sharma, MBE, Committee Member for the Heritage Lottery Fund explains the importance of this project, “This is an exciting opportunity to open up the archives of Campbell College whose pupils played a key role in both WW1 and WW2.   It offers the chance to pay respect to those lives lost but also to involve the whole community – encouraging everyone to tell the stories behind not just these 126 men, but all the men from East Belfast who made the ultimate sacrifice in WW1.”

Crucial to this project will be the engagement with other schools and the wider community:

At Primary School Level a creative engagement initiative will be delivered in Schools throughout East Belfast;

At Secondary School Level a ’Teacher Resource Pack’ will be developed along with the provision of ten A-Level Internships open to pupils from all participating schools;

In collaboration with the Schools and the wider community a ‘Poetry Slam’ event will be delivered as part of the EastSide Arts Festival in 2018 and a collaborative ‘Story Telling Workshop’ co-ordinated with a German school with Young at Art Events.

These initiatives will be supported by a touring exhibition and an online forum all contributing to on-going learning and development as part of this project. In addition, the wider community will have opportunities to get involved with the research through a number of research workshops and sessions held at PRONI and at the College throughout the duration of the project.

 

CWGC Living Memory Project 2016

Nigel Henderson, a member of History Hub Ulster, has been involved in tidying up grave plots in Belfast City Cemetery where Great War fatalities are commemorated on family memorials.  Over time, Nigel noticed that weed re-growth had occurred at a number of plots that had been cleared of significant over-growth.

As a result, History Hub Ulster applied to the CWGC Living Memory project for funding to make plots more permanently presentable by removing the weeds/growth, laying down weed-suppressant membrane and then covering with a layer of woodbark.

Within the financial limitations of the funding, it was anticipated that six plots, all relating to men who died during the Battle of the Somme in 1916, could be treated – in the end, seven plots were treated.

History Hub Ulster regards this as a practical way of demonstrating remembrance.

Click here to read more about the memorials.

Belfast Somme 100 Autumn Programme launch!

Belfast Somme 100

At the launch of the September – November Belfast Somme 100 programme, pictured from left: Karen O’Rawe, Chair of History Hub Ulster, and Antoinette Morelli, who stars in ‘Medal in a Drawer’ which runs in venues across Belfast from 27th – 30th September.

History Hub Ulster today launches it’s Belfast Somme 100 September – November 2016 programme of commemorative events marking the centenary of the battles of the Somme, and the place of the Somme campaign within the First World War.

Karen O’Rawe, Chair of History Hub Ulster and Belfast Somme 100 said

‘The impact of the Somme on Belfast is remembered in this, our final programme of events. The people of our small city heaved with tears of grief as their young men were killed and maimed, no matter what their background.  Belfast Catholic, Protestant, Jew or Quaker – all served and died together at the Somme.

The close links between people can be seen in our programme of events. Follow Rifleman Willie Kerr, a young Catholic man who enlisted in the YCV in MEDAL IN THE DRAWER. See his friend, young Protestant Rifleman George Kirkwood on the big screen at City Hall as part of the CASTLETON LANTERNS Project.  DR JOHANNE DEVLIN TREWE will give a lecture on the service of local nurses, like George Kirkwoods sisters Charlotte and Mary Ellen.

The Kirkwoods and Kerrs were just two Belfast families who received telegrams announcing the deaths of their sons. NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS takes us back to a village waiting, with dread and hope, for any news from the front. 

A SOMME CONFERENCE, HEDGE SCHOOL and LECTURE SERIES as well as COMMEMORATIVE events draw together all the perspectives of this centennial year and aim to enhance our understanding of the impact of the Slaughter At the Somme’

The project focuses on the personalities and stories associated with the campaign and mark its place in the social and political history of Northern Ireland and pre-partition Ireland. The Belfast Somme 100 project aims to raise awareness of previously overlooked or submerged stories and personal connections that both the Somme and the events of 1916 have had with the broader history and development of Northern Ireland.

The programme runs for 141 days across Belfast, the exact duration of the Somme campaign in 1916, and this Autumn it features a range of commemorative events including concerts, film, lectures, walks, exhibitions, poetry, debates, theatre, children and family activities.

Highlights include:

Medal in the Drawer, a play by Brenda Winter Palmer which follows four volunteers from Belfast on their war-journey; The Year of the Somme: 1916 in Perspective conference in partnership with the Western Front Association which features a ranges of local and international speakers;  Artists at the Somme with the visual artists, poets and musicians at the Ulster Museum; a series of talks at the Linen Hall Library;  No News is Good News a new play Philip Orr, will form a Kabosh promenade production at the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum and take you back 100 years  to meet the villagers who were desperate for news and awaiting telegrams from the front; a season of films at the Queen’s Film Theatre; Castleton Lanterns, refound images of servicemen after 95 years will be shown on the Big Screen at City Hall;  The 1916 Centenaries, An Opportune Time for Reflection?, Hedge School in partnership with the Fellowship of the Messines Association, Battle of the Somme Centenary Concert at the Ulster Hall; and the programme culminates with a Keith Jeffery Memorial Lecture by Margaret MacMillan, Professor of International History at the University of Oxford.

Local events throughout Belfast will continue through till the end of November. Activities will include the opening of a new memorial and lighting of a beacon at Skegoneill Avenue in November, a Somme Day Community Festival to launch Tree Tank in South Belfast, the ‘Row on Row’ remembrance event at Pitt Park on 18th November and a new activity and learning book on the Somme to be circulated free to schools and community centres and interactive workshops aimed at educating children and young people.

The objectives of the Somme 100 project are to dispel myths and stereotypes, to promote and encourage dialogue within communities and with other communities and to create a space which allows the development of mutual understanding.

Belfast Somme 100 is run by History Hub Ulster with an Advisory Panel made up of experts in the period and community leaders. It is funded by Belfast City Council.

Full information, updates and ticketing is available at www.belfastsomme100.com, on Facebook and on twitter @belfastsomme100.

 

Lecture By Kate Adie on Women in the First World War

On Tuesday 6 September from 1pm-2pm the former BBC Chief News Correspondent Kate Adie will be visiting the Ulster Museum to give a FREE lecture on “Women and the Legacy of the First World War”. When the First World War broke out, and a generation of men went off to fight, women emerged from the shadows of their domestic lives. Becoming a visible force in public life, they began to take up essential roles – from transport to policing, munitions to sport, entertainment and even politics. The talk will chart the move towards equal rights with men that began a century ago and consider what these women achieved for future generations. Places can be booked online at http://nmni.com/um/What-s-on/Talks—Lectures/Lecture-by-Kate-Adie-on-Women—WW1.

 

Adie Lecture Poster

 

The Battle of the Somme Centenary Tour

The Battle of the Somme Centenary Tour

The original 1916 film screened with live accompaniment by the Studio Symphony Orchestra

Conductor David Openshaw

5. Optimised_A4_Q_079501_tif piggy backSomme100 FILM is an international project, working with the Imperial War Museum as part of the First World War Centenary Partnership to mark the anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. The aim is to bring together 100 live orchestral performances of the ground-breaking 1916 film, The Battle of the SommeThe Studio Symphony Orchestra is proud to be providing a unique opportunity in Northern Ireland to experience this iconic film with live  orchestral accompaniment.

Shot and screened in 1916, The Battle of the Somme was the first feature length documentary about war. In the first three months of its release the film was seen by around 20 million people in Britain and Ireland, informing and challenging the public with its images of warfare, and changing the way both cinema and film was perceived.

1. Somme Philharmonia QEHThe film was shot by just two cameramen; Geoffrey Malins and J B McDowell. Filming took place between 25 June and 9 July 1916, covering the build-up and opening stages of the Battle of the Somme.

The Battle of the Somme was filmed on the front line at great personal danger to the cameramen, and offered audiences a unique, almost tangible link to their family members on the battlefront. Contemporary reactions to the film varied greatly but most people believed it was their duty to see the film and experience the ‘reality’ of warfare.

The Imperial War Museum took ownership of the film in 1920, and in 2002 undertook digital restoration of the surviving elements. A new orchestral score was commissioned from Laura Rossi in 2005. The Battle of the Somme film remains the source of many of the conflict’s most iconic images, from the ‘over the top’ sequence to the piggy-back rescue in the trenches, and continues to have great importance not only as a record of war but as a piece of cinema.

Saturday 15th October 2016 at 8pm

Island Arts Centre, Lisburn

Tickets: £12 / £10 concessions

Box Office: 02892 509254

or online at www.islandartscentre.com

“And those troops in the mud grinned or stared at us to a new musical score by Laura Rossi, brilliantly effective”  Geoff Brown, The Times *****

www.studiosymphony.org.uk/somme100

The Somme: 1st July 1916: Ulstermen and the Ulster Division

An analysis of the official fatality records to determine the number of Ulstermen and men from the Ulster Division who died during the Battle of Albert, which lasted from 1st July to 13th July 1916, by History Hub Ulster researcher Nigel Henderson.

Summary statistics:

  • Over the period of the Battle of Albert, 2129 men who were born or lived in Ulster died.
  • Over the period of the Battle of Albert the Ulster Division lost 2051 men.

The following are some summary statistics drawn from the dataset for the first day of the 1916 Battles of the Somme:

  • 1721 men who were born in Ulster died on 1st July 1916.
  • 1517 of these men were from the Ulster Division and the remainder were from 14 other British Divisions.
  • On 1st July 1916, 1778 men died whilst serving with the Ulster Division.
  • The Ulster Division lost 1935 men during the two days that it was in the frontline.

Things To Note:

  • Anyone born in the nine counties of Ulster has been defined as being an Ulsterman and has been classified by County of Birth (with Belfast being treated as a County).
  • Anyone born outside Ulster but had a residential association with Ulster, has been classified as “Ulster – Residence”.
  • In determining the analysis, it was borne in mind that Ulstermen served with units attached to British Divisions other than the Ulster Division and that not all men who served in the Ulster Division were Ulstermen by birth or residence.
  • Although the dataset is based on the CWGC fatalities, the inclusion of additional information from other primary sources enhances this record of fatalities and facilitates the analysis of the data by a range of different criteria. For example, the records of Ulstermen fatalities can be broken down into regiments or divisions as well as by county and, for Ulster Division fatalities, the non-Ulstermen can be easily identified.
  • Whilst it cannot be claimed that this fatality list is 100% accurate or complete, it does represent a verifiable list of the men that died in that battle and is more accurate than many of the figures that have appeared in newspapers in recent months.

In More Detail:
Over the period of the Battle of Albert, 2129 men who were born or lived in Ulster died and the Ulster Division lost 2051 men. 

1721 men who were born in Ulster died on 1st July 1916:
• 375 from Belfast
• 320 from County Down
• 312 from County Antrim
• 192 from County Armagh
• 182 from County Londonderry
• 144 from County Tyrone
• 77 from County Donegal
• 69 from County Fermanagh
• 31 from County Monaghan
• 19 from County Cavan
1517 of these men were from the Ulster Division and the remainder were from 20 other British Divisions.

On 1st July 1916, 1778 men died whilst serving with the Ulster Division:
• 314 from Belfast
• 292 from County Down
• 298 from County Antrim
• 183 from County Armagh
• 154 from County Londonderry
• 116 from County Tyrone
• 61 from County Donegal
• 54 from County Fermanagh
• 29 from County Monaghan
• 16 from County Cavan
• 261 men were born outside Ulster

The Ulster Division lost 1935 men during the two days that it was in the frontline:
• 438 with the 107th Infantry Brigade
• 767 with the 108th Infantry Brigade
• 706 with the 109th Infantry Brigade
• 24 with Divisional Support Units

The full spreadsheet is available here: http://historyhubulster.co.uk/ulster-albert

Methodology:

  1. A search of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) database was executed using the following criteria: Ulster DivisionThe records returned were downloaded and imported to Excel and columns were added to facilitate the recording of additional information, such as Division, Type of Death, Place of Birth and associated County/Country.
  2.  The spreadsheet was filtered by Regiment and Units to identify and mark those fatalities associated with units belonging to the 36th (Ulster) Division. If there was no unit reference on the CWGC database records, the unit reference was identified from other primary sources (for example, Soldier Died in the Great War, medal rolls).
  3. The “additional information” section in the CWGC data was analysed to identify counties, towns, etc. within Ulster and the relevant records were marked to indicate Ulster connection.
  4. For men identified in Step 3 as having an Ulster connection, the regiments/units were examined to identify whether they had played a role in the Battle of Albert and, where appropriate, the Division number was recorded. Note: the Long Long Trail website was used to determine the Division associated with a Regiment/Unit and whether that Division participated in the Battle of Albert.
  5. The Soldiers Died in the Great War (SDGW) online database was interrogated to identify fatalities in July 1916 in France where the birth location held on SDGW satisfied a number of Ulster-based criteria: Birth Location set to “Northern Ireland”, “Ulster”, specific cities (i.e. Belfast, Londonderry, Armagh) and each of the nine counties in turn. The results were used to update the master spreadsheet with Birth Location, County/Country of Origin, Type of Death and additional information (e.g. former regiment details, mainly for Machine Gun Corps fatalities). Where there was a Death Date discrepancy between SDGW and CWGC, other sources were checked to determine the most commonly held date – the details/sources of discrepancies were noted. Variations on Surname/Forename spellings and Regimental Numbers were also noted.
  6. For fatalities where no next-of-kin information was held on CWGC, the National Archives of Ireland Soldiers’ Wills (SW) online database was searched to identify, where a will is present, the next-of-kin name, relationship and address. The Register of Soldiers’ Effects (RSE) and Ireland Census returns were also searched to identify the name(s) and relationship(s) of the beneficiaries and the addresses of widows/parents. In checking the Register of Soldiers’ Effects, priority was given to cases where there was no Birth Location recorded on the SDGW database – there are over 950 fatality records where a next-of-kin has not yet been identified.
  7. The In Memoriam notices placed in the Belfast Evening Telegraph in late June and early July 1917 were trawled to identify next of kin details.
  8. The family memorials in the War Graves Ulster archive that specified deaths during the period of the Battle of Albert were examined to identify next of kin details.

Whilst it cannot be claimed that this fatality list is 100% accurate or complete, it does represent a verifiable list of the men that died in that battle and is more accurate than many of the figures that have appeared in newspapers in recent months.  We would welcome suggestions of names that are not present in the attached spreadsheet. Click here to email.

Nigel Henderson – History Hub Ulster