Sash worn by Orangeman as he went over the top in WW1 featured in Somme exhibition
An Orange sash believed to have been worn by a brave Ulsterman as he clambered out of the trenches during the First World War is being shown at a new exhibition.
The display, created by the Orange Order and called The Lily and the Poppy, is designed to mark this year's centenary of the Battle of the Somme and to commemorate the thousands of Orangemen who took part.
One of the star attractions is bound to be the sash, which was found on the frontline and belonged to a member of Churchill LOL 1951, near Newtownards.
It is accompanied by a letter from a fellow Orangeman who was given the item, which was found "somewhere in France" around the Cambrai line, and returned it to the lodge.
British forces launched an audacious attack at Cambrai in 1917, targeting the German supply line, with fighting during the battle said to have been fierce.
The fate of the soldier who wore the sash during the attack remains unknown.
The display includes the lodge membership certificate of Victoria Cross recipient Robert Quigg, a statue to whom is to be unveiled by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh today.
It also has an engraved pocket watch that an Orange lodge presented to a Hugh Tanner and which he carried with him when he fought with the 109th Brigade at the Somme. On top of that, there are lodge minute books that detail the fates of members who fought in the war.
An illustrated hospital diary associated with the Ulster Division, as well as rifles, flare shells and an assortment of cartridges found near Thiepval Wood, can also be seen.
The exhibition was officially opened yesterday by Irish Guards veteran John McAreavey to the sound of a bugle, which declared the advance at the Somme 100 years ago.
It is estimated that 200,000 Orangemen from across the globe served during the First World War, with thousands seeing action at the Somme.
At least five Orangemen were awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry, including Bushmills hero Mr Quigg, who displayed outstanding bravery.
Orange Grand Master Edward Stevenson said the institution was "proud and honoured" to remember those members who lost their lives in the war.
"It is well documented that many Orangemen went over the top in the heat of the battle proudly wearing their collarettes or Orange ribbons on their uniforms and never returned," Mr Stevenson added..
"In this context, the lily and the poppy are poignantly symbolic as the flowers of a generation lost in battle."
The Lily and the Poppy runs at the Museum of Orange Heritage, Cregagh Road, Belfast until December 19.