War Memorial to be inscribed with WW1’s missing local names

The Memorial Park, Ballymena. (Editorial Image)
The Memorial Park, Ballymena. (Editorial Image)

People have been encouraged to take part in a consultation aimed at ensuring all locals who lost their lives during the First World War are remembered on Ballymena and District’s War Memorial.

Earlier this year Mid and East Antrim Borough Council agreed the addition of verified missing names of the fallen on the monument in the town’s Memorial Park.

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Paul Reid, said: “I would encourage local people and those from further afield to check if their forebear is on the published list of missing names and, if not, for them to share their information during the consultation period which has just opened. We would wish to ensure as best we can that all those who made the ultimate sacrifice from Ballymena and district are now remembered side by side on the Memorial with the existing names of those who lost their lives. This includes any relevant local women who served in clerical or nursing roles.”

Recent research undertaken by History Hub Ulster has found that up to 172 names could be missing.

The Mayor acknowledged that much information had already been compiled and made free as a resource on the internet to the local public since 2007.

He said: “I want to pay tribute to all local historians who have carried out research on the fallen from the mid-Antrim area in the First World War. This has enhanced our understanding made of their sacrifice. I would especially like to commend the local historians who set up Ballymena and The Great War website in 2007 for their commitment in ensuring that the memory of these mid-Antrim soldiers lives on.”

History Hub Ulster has kindly confirmed on their facebook site that the Ballymena and the Great War webite was used to check their own research.

Ballymena and District War Memorial was unveiled in 1924 after a fundraising effort raised just over £1,000.

It is unknown how the 495 names were gathered by the then War Memorial Committee in the early 1920s but through professional research, using agreed criteria, it has emerged that some of those who were killed in action or subsequently died of wounds have been overlooked until now.

A public call for anyone who believes that their relative should be included for verification has been made by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.

Council’s Museum and Heritage Service at Mid-Antrim Museum is conducting the consultation facilitated by History Hub UIster.

The consultation will be conducted through History Hub Ulster’s website with the provision of an online response form.

The site provides information on the selection criteria which proposed names should relate to and can be found at http://historyhubulster.co.uk/ballymena-district-fallen/

Primarily the criteria requires that the proposed person was born and/or enlisted in Ballymena or District, or was born in Ballymena or District and enlisted elsewhere including Dominion Forces.

Other criteria requirements are that the proposed person was killed in action or subsequently died of wounds before August 1921, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission cut-off date for First World War Fallen.

A current database of the existing names on Ballymena War Memorial and verified names collated through ongoing research is also available to view on the website.

Members of the public who have no access to the internet, or who would prefer to submit their information in person, are welcome to call into The Braid, Ballymena, on either Thursday 26 or Saturday 28 October.

Mid-Antrim Museum staff will be available between 10am – 1pm on both days in the museum atrium to accept submissions.

Files containing the list of existing names on the War Memorial and verified names recently collected through research will be available to view. The 1924 Ballymena Rural District Council boundary map will also be available.

The online consultation opened on Monday 25 September and will close on Friday 10 November 2017. All names supplied, either online or in person, will be verified prior to inclusion in the final list of names missing from the War Memorial. Members of the public who submit names for consideration will be advised accordingly.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council have undertaken to have the engraving of verified names completed on Ballymena’s War Memorial in time for the national Centenary of the Armistice on 11 November 2018.

An application is being prepared to the War Memorials Trust in London to support this initiative.