On 7th March 1922, the Larne War Memorials’ Committee organised two ceremonies in the town – one to commemorate the fallen from the town and the other to demonstrate gratitude to those who had served in the Great War. Colonel Robert Chaine Alexander McCalmont, who had served with 12th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles and 1st Battalion Irish Guards, played a role in both ceremonies.
At Noon, Colonel McCalmont unveiled the War Memorial to remember the fallen from the Larne Urban District. The names of the 147 fatalities recorded on the memorial were read out by Major George Thomson DSO who had served with 12th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles. The Reverend James Kennedy dedicated the memorial, and the Last Post was played by Buglers from 1st Battalion Norfolk Regiment.
At 3pm, Colonel McCalmont he raised the flag in the ceremony to formally transfer Inver House and its grounds to the Larne Branch of the British Legion for use as a club and recreation facility for ex-Servicemen. Inver House had been purchased by the War Memorials’ Committee from the Barklie family, Colonel McCalmont having played an important role in the transfer.
This war memorial was dedicated to those sailors and soldiers who died in the Great War and were natives, lived in, or left from Larne Urban District. Although it is unclear exactly what was meant by the term “left from Larne”, it possibly referred to men who enlisted in Larne Town. There are men recorded on the memorial whose only identifiable connection to the town was as the place of enlistment. Unlike the Ballymena & District War Memorial, which covers fatalities from the Urban District and the Rural District, the memorial in Larne was designated as an Urban District Memorial. Consequently, it does not extend to war fatalities from what was the Larne Rural District. Whilst there are war memorials in some parts of the old Larne Rural District, for example in Glynn village, there is no war memorial for the fatalities from the Rural District
The memorial is the work of Frederick William Pomeroy, a prolific British sculptor of architectural and monumental works, who died in May 1924. The memorial takes the form of a cenotaph made from Portland Stone with the addition of bronze statues of a Sergeant of the British Army and a sailor of the Royal Navy. At the soldier’s feet in a German helmet. An engraved frieze runs around the upper part of the cenotaph. At the four corners are the heads of lions and on the front and rear faces there is a medallion featuring a sailing ship and the motto of Larne. On the other two faces, there are medallions on which France and Belgium are engraved.
The memorial was originally erected in the roadway at the junction of Main Street, Glenarm Road, and Curran Road. The Methodist Church was behind the memorial and the Laharna Hotel was in front of it. There were changes to the memorial even before its re-location to its current location at Inver. When the memorial was unveiled, the dedication and the names of the fallen were individual metal letters attached to the stonework. By the end of October 1925, a bronze dedication panel and two bronze panels listing the names of the fallen had been inserted into the stonework.
With the increase in motor transport, the Larne Urban District Council proposed the relocation of the memorial in 1933. Although several accidents had occurred at the busy junction, there was opposition to the relocation. The current Garden of Remembrance was purchased from Larne & Inver Parish Church by Larne Borough Council in 1973 and the war memorial was transferred in May 1975
The first name recorded on the original war memorial was Robert McFerran Adams. Robert was born on 23rd June 1896 at Glynnview Avenue in Larne to Edward John Adams, a ship’s carpenter, and Ellen Jane Burns and the family later lived at Ship Street, Olderfleet, and Castle Terrace in the town. Robert McFerran Adams enlisted with 12th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles and was deployed to France in October 1915. Rifleman Adams Died of Wounds on 4th June 1916 at the age of 19 and is buried in the Forceville Communal Cemetery and Extension in France. Locally, he is commemorated on the memorial tablet in First Larne Presbyterian Church and on a family memorial in the graveyard of St John’s Church of Ireland in Glynn. Ellen Jane Adams was awarded a Dependant’s Pension of five shillings per week from 26th June 1917 and Edward John Adams received a War Gratuity of £17 and ten shillings in October 1919.
The last name recorded on the original war memorial was William James Weir. William was born on 30th June 1890 at Drummaul near Randalstown to William Weir and Charlotte Morgan. In 1911, the family was living at Meetinghouse Street in Larne and William was employed as a Cloth Passer. The family was recorded as belonging to the Congregational denomination. William James Weir married Nora Barr on 30th April 1915 at Larne Methodist Church and they lived at Mill Brae in Larne. William James Weir enlisted with the 12th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles and was deployed to France in October 1915. Rifleman Weir Died of Wounds on 10th August 1917, aged 27, and is buried in Brandhoek New Military Cemetery in Belgium. His widow was awarded a Dependant’s Pension of thirteen shillings and ninepence per week from 25th February 1918 and received a War Gratuity of £13 and ten shillings in November 1919. His brother, Rifleman Matthew Weir of the same battalion and regiment, is also commemorated on the memorial. He had been discharged due to wounds in 1917 and died of Septic Pneumonia on 12th January 1919, aged 27, and is buried in the Greenland Cemetery in Larne.
A stone panel bearing the names of 72 fatalities from the Second World War was unveiled in November 1949. A second stone panel was added later to commemorate one fatality from the Malayan Emergency (1948 to 1960), two from the Korean War (1950 to 1953), and one for Aden (1963 to 1967).
In 2019, two obelisks were erected near the war memorial on which are recorded the names of a further 128 fatalities from the Great War. As part of the project, the original memorial was renovated, and new paving was laid around the memorial. Ironically, the original war memorial was unveiled on the anniversary of the death of one of the men included on one of the obelisks.
William Hugh McCluggage was born on 20th February 1898 at Ballyvernstown near Glynn to Robert McCluggage and Jane McDowell. He enlisted in Larne with 12th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles and was deployed to France in October 1915. Signaller McCluggage was Killed in Action on 7th March 1917, aged 19, and is buried in St Quentin Cabaret Military Cemetery in France. Locally, he is commemorated on the memorial tablet for Ralloo Presbyterian Church, on a family memorial in the graveyard at St John’s Church of Ireland in in Glynn, and on the War Memorial in Glynn Village. Robert McCluggage received a War Gratuity of £8 and ten shillings in October 1919.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them