Belfast Telegraph

Silence held to remember the fallen troops killed in First and Second World Wars

By Sophie Inge

Northern Ireland fell quiet yesterday to remember the men and women killed in the First and Second World Wars.

A two-minute silence fell at 11am - the moment the guns stopped firing at the end of the First World War on November 11, 1918.

Several wreath-laying events took place at memorials across the country - including the Northern Ireland War Memorial (NIWM) in Talbot Street, Belfast.

Veteran RAF Flight Lieutenant Bill Eames (93) laid a wreath on Carolyn Mulholland's Blitz Memorial - a bronze sculpture with cut-out shapes representing the spaces left by those who died.

Speaking at the service, NIWM Honorary Secretary, Flight Lieutenant Paddy Crowther, described the event as "the most sombre of the events in our annual calendar".

"This is the culmination of a very important year for Northern Ireland War Memorial in which we have commemorated the 75 years since the Belfast Blitz, 100 years since the Battle of Jutland and 100 years - of course - since the Battle of the Somme."

According to NIWM chairman, Ian Wilson, the sacrifice made by those who fought in the World Wars is more significant today.

"We tend to forget the people involved were very young - they were 18, 19 and 20," he said.

"When these men came back they were obviously intent on getting married, getting jobs and bringing up families.

"And it's only really in quite recent decades that these people have looked back and realised that they are part of history."

Also present at the event was Courtenay Thompson DL, Her Majesty's Deputy Lieutenant of the County Borough of Belfast, who said it was vital to keep the memory of the World Wars alive for the young generations.

However, many veterans are still unwilling to talk about their experiences, he said.

Asked about the Fifa poppy ban, he said: "I think it's a terrible pity."

"I just wish they could find a compromise that allowed people who wanted to wear them to wear them," he said.

The Orange Order also held a commemoration service, in which the Grand Master Edward Stevenson paid tribute to the fallen of both World Wars, as well as members of the Order who lost their lives during the Troubles.

"This year, our commemoration is particularly poignant, as we reflect on the bravery of those who fought and died at the Battle of the Somme," Mr Stevenson said.

"One hundred years later, we quite rightly remember with pride all those who served, and in particular those who lost their lives, during the momentous battle of the First World War.

Belfast Telegraph


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