As the final touches are applied to a bronze statue commemorating a North Antrim winner of the Victoria Cross, we delved back in the archives to find this report of how Ballymena greeted Robert Quigg of the 12th Royal Irish Rifles as he travelled home on leave from the front.
Rifleman Robert Quigg VC of Carnkirk, Bushmills, of the 12th Royal Irish Rifles (Central Antrim Volunteers) was the recipient of congratulations from the inhabitants of Ballymena on his return home for a well merited month’s additional holiday.
As the 4.20pm train steamed into Ballymena Station, carrying the gallant hero home after receiving his award at Buckingham Palace, it was met by a large contingent. As the VC, accompanied by Capt.Thompson stepped out of the carriage he was cheered enthusiastically and congratulated on his magnificent and conspicuous bravery.
Mr. Huston Lancashire JP, on behalf of the inhabitants of the township said: “I am very proud to have the pleasure of meeting such a brave man. I heartily congratulate you on the honour you have done County Antrim and the Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles to which you belong - our own 12th Btn. in the Ulster Division (cheers). We in Ballymena are justly proud of this battalion as hundreds upon hundreds of our townsmen are connected with it both as officers, non-coms and privates. When we heard of your great bravery we felt still greater pride.”
Rfn. Quigg briefly thanked them all for their kindness adding that he had only done a man’s part and was prepared to do the same tomorrow (cheers). He said that men in the army were not good at speech making and what he had passed through within the past few days was to him more difficult than what he had gained his distinction over.
He declared: “I am glad to be back in the land I love so well and I know and hope that many more of my countrymen will come forward and join the colours for their assistance is much required.”
As the train steamed out, fog signals and station detonators were discharged.
Ballymena Observer, January 12, 1917