Somme vigil planned for ‘Buttermilk’ trench

Trench warfare: Re-enactors in the mock trenches representing Ulster Division positions on the Somme front which have been built by the Broughshane and District Somme Commemoration Committee at the Buttermilk Bridge in the village.
Trench warfare: Re-enactors in the mock trenches representing Ulster Division positions on the Somme front which have been built by the Broughshane and District Somme Commemoration Committee at the Buttermilk Bridge in the village.

Normally, a walk along the riverside path to Broughshane’s Buttermilk Bridge is a pretty peaceful pursuit.

But as the countdown to the 100th anniversary of the opening day of the Battle of the Somme approaches, locals have transformed a normally tranquil wooded patch into a mock trench system representing the horrors of the western front to honour those of all creeds and classes who fell in that horrific battle.

Over the bags! The last step into 'no-man's land' ... re-enactors at the Buttermilk Bridge trenches in Broughshane.

Over the bags! The last step into 'no-man's land' ... re-enactors at the Buttermilk Bridge trenches in Broughshane.

The 36th Ulster Division suffered atrocious casualties on July 1 1916 while the 16th Irish Division was to undergo a similar torment at the engagements of Guillemont and Ginchy in September of the same year.

And it should not be forgotten that many locals were serving in regular army units from all over Britain while others served with the so-called ‘Imperial Forces’ at the Somme.

The trench idea emanated from the local branch of the Apprentice Boys and received backing from the Broughshane and District Somme Memorial Committee.

It will be used for school educational visits in the run up to the anniversary and visitors can go along to view the trench while complying with the danger signs.

Rapid fire! Re-enactors on the firestep of the mock Somme trenches built at Buttermilk Bridge Broughshane to mark the forthcoming 100th anniversary of the opening of the Battle of the Somme. (Submitted)

Rapid fire! Re-enactors on the firestep of the mock Somme trenches built at Buttermilk Bridge Broughshane to mark the forthcoming 100th anniversary of the opening of the Battle of the Somme. (Submitted)

A Drumhead Service will be held at the Buttermilk Bridge trench on Saturday, June 18 at 8pm following a parade through the village with local bands starting from Whinsmoor at 7.30pm.

A Somme Vigil will also be held at the trench site on the morning of July 1.

Before that a Somme Reflection and Concert will be held in Broughshane Community Centre on Friday, June 17 at 7.30pm featuring three local bands - Broughshane and District Pipe Band, Ballygelly Accordion Band and Ballymena Young Conquerors Flute Band, who lost several band members during the conflict. Soloists Tracey Martin and Colin Patton will also perform.

Tickets are available costing £5, telephone 02825862777.

Digging in: A section of the trench at the Buttermilk Bridge. A vigil will be held at the site on July 1 at 7.30am to mark the opening moments of the battle in which so many local men died. (Submitted)

Digging in: A section of the trench at the Buttermilk Bridge. A vigil will be held at the site on July 1 at 7.30am to mark the opening moments of the battle in which so many local men died. (Submitted)