Poignant Somme ceremony at Portglenone

The painting of William Brown.
The painting of William Brown.

The people of Portglenone and District met on 1st July at 7.30am to remember the men who left their trenches at that hour for the opening engagement in the Battle of the Somme.

The shrill notes of whistles, which were used at the Somme to signal the advance, tore through the silence as people reflected on the young men who entered No Man’s Land many never to return.

William Brown 16th Royal Irish Rifles. KIA July 1 1916

William Brown 16th Royal Irish Rifles. KIA July 1 1916

The act of remembrance was led by Rev. Albert Baxter who spoke of the sacrifice and recalled Christ’s great sacrifice for all mankind at the cross.

Afterwards the audience witnessed the unveiling of a commissioned piece of art dedicated to the men who went ‘From the Bann to the Somme’. It signifies the two men from Portglenone who were killed on the 1st July 1916.

They were:-

BROWN, William, 7905, Rifleman, 16th Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on July 1, 1916. He is buried in Hamel Military Cemetery, Somme. He was born in Portglenone and enlisted in Ballymena. His left a wife and young daughter at Culnafay, Portglenone.

An aerial view showing the present day Ulster Tower, Mill Road and Thiepval Wood. It is across this area that men of the 36th Ulster Division advanced on July 1 1916

An aerial view showing the present day Ulster Tower, Mill Road and Thiepval Wood. It is across this area that men of the 36th Ulster Division advanced on July 1 1916

and

DAWSON, Samuel, 14860, Private, 11th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, KIA on 1st July 1916. Born Portglenone, enlisted Belfast, lived Glasgow. Commemorated on Thiepval Memorial.

Research carried out by William Gordon and others has found a long lost painting of William Brown.

It is a haunting image, made after his death no doubt by a family proud and keen to remember him.

The new artwork commemorating the Battle of the Somme unveiled as part of the Banntastic festival. Image submitted.

The new artwork commemorating the Battle of the Somme unveiled as part of the Banntastic festival. Image submitted.

His grave was located recently during a visit to the Somme by a number of members of Portglenone District ILOL No.4 who marked his grave with a specially commissioned badge, and cross.

Further information:- Rfn. William Brown (pioneer) Newferry whose wife and young daughter reside at Culnafay has been killed in action on July 1. He was the only son of Mr. and Mrs. William Brown of Newferry. He had emigrated to America three years ago and returned in Christmas 1914, joining the army in the early spring of 1915 and went to the front with the Ulster Division (16th Btn R.I.Rifles). From the Ballymena Observer.