Hillsborough Old Guard leads tribute to fallen

Crowds gather by the War Memorial in Hillsborough for a service organised by Hillsborough Old Guard in tribute to 10 villagers who died when they were hit by an artillery shell as they were moving out of the French village of Martinsart to take up forward positions on the Somme on June 28 1916.
Crowds gather by the War Memorial in Hillsborough for a service organised by Hillsborough Old Guard in tribute to 10 villagers who died when they were hit by an artillery shell as they were moving out of the French village of Martinsart to take up forward positions on the Somme on June 28 1916.

Relatives of local soldiers killed in the days immediately prior to the WWI Battle of the Somme were among those to gather in tribute at Hillsborough recently.

Ten Hillsborough men died after they were hit by an artillery shell while moving out of the French village of Martinsart to take up forward positions on the Somme on June 28, 1916.

In all, 23 men died as a result of the shell landing among them while they paraded a mile or two from the front; 11 others were from Dromore, two from Banbridge.

Some were killed instantly; others died from their wounds in the days that followed.

They were among a number of British army casualties sustained during the week ahead of the battle, a week that saw one million shells pound German positions in preparation for the ‘Big Push’ at the Somme, with which the allies hoped to break the deadlock of trench warfare on the Western Front.

At a recent act of commemoration, Hillsborough Old Guard led tributes to the men of the village who were killed.

As crowds gathered by the war memorial, young people from the area read aloud the names of the fallen.

The Hillsborough men among them were Regimental Sergeant Major James Beaton, Rifleman Albert Crangle, Rifleman Samuel Hamilton, Rifleman George Heenan, Rifleman Thomas Mercer, Rifleman Joseph Thompson, Rifleman William John Berry, Rifleman Oliver Crossey, Rifleman Robert Harrison and Rifleman John Smith.

Dromore casualties included Company Sergeant Major Joseph McCoy, Rifleman Thomas John Bell, Rifleman William Darragh, Rifleman Alexander Jones, Rifleman Joseph Martin, Rifleman Richard Crawley, Rifleman Thomas Brown, Rifleman Arthur Burns, Rifleman David Frame, Rifleman Stanley Guiney.

Banbridge men, Rifleman John Carson and Rifleman David Dale also died.

The commemoration in Hillsborough saw the Reverend Bert Tosh of Hillsborough Presbyterian Church read a passage of scripture, while the Reverend Doctor Bryan Follis, Rector Of Hillsborough Parish Church, led the prayer.

Garvey Silver Band then led the praise with the traditional hymn, O God our Help in Ages Past.

The Marquis Of Downshire’s Bugler, Andrew Carlisle, sounded The Last Post and wreaths were laid by Hillsborough Old Guard and descendants of those who were killed at Martinsart.

A spokesperson said Hillsborough Old Guard extended its thanks to all those who attended.