Fernisky drummer’s tribute to Great Uncle who fell at the Somme

The drum at the Somme Service held in Connor Presbyterian Church - with Ross Craig.
The drum at the Somme Service held in Connor Presbyterian Church - with Ross Craig.

It will be a proud moment on Tuesday for Fernisky LOL drummer Derek Lee, who will be parading a newly painted Lambeg drum which honours his Great Uncle, who fell at the Somme.

The specially commissioned drum pays tribute to the sacrifice made by Rifleman Frank Gamble on July, 1, 1916 when he gave his life along with thousands of others on the opening day of the bloody battle.

The Lambeg drum with the painting of Rifleman Frank Gamble, who gave his life on July 1, 1916 at the Battle of the Somme.

The Lambeg drum with the painting of Rifleman Frank Gamble, who gave his life on July 1, 1916 at the Battle of the Somme.

Frank, from Kells, was a member of the 12th Royal Irish Rifles and was one of the first bayonet men to enter the German trenches. His role is recorded in the unit’s war diary.

He fell on that day, at the age of 21 and his name appears on the war memorial in the village.

Derek told the Times that painting the drum was a fitting tribute to his great uncle’s bravery and sacrifice.

He said: “I decided with it being the 100 year anniversary of the Somme I would get the portrait of my Great Uncle Frank Gamble painted on this drum I had been given.

Rfn. Frank Gamble of Kells. First bayonet man into German trenches. KIA July 1, 1916

Rfn. Frank Gamble of Kells. First bayonet man into German trenches. KIA July 1, 1916

“He was on the front line, cutting the barbed wire to allow the battalions to get through. It’s incomprehensible how brave he was and how terrifying that would have been.

“My father and my grandfather were both drummers and used this drum so there is a real family connection.”

The Lambeg drum waspainted by Davy Irwin, who is originally from Ballymena and the result is a stunning portrait of Rifleman Gamble.

Derek said that his family knew stories of his Great Uncle’s bravery and they have always been very proud of his role in the Somme.

He added: “I was asked to lay a wreath at the local memorial as part of the 100th anniversary of the Somme commemorations. When they blew the whistle to signify the moment they went over the top, the hairs on the back of your neck stood up.

“It’s hard to believe he did this and he was only 21. Our family have always been incredibly proud of him and his brother who was also in the First World War and survived.”

More on local sacrifices made at the Somme: The Central Antrims advanced three times towards the German lines - and each time they were hammered by the enemy machine guns