Belfast Telegraph

Unique memorial unveiled in Woodvale Park in tribute to World War One soldiers

Brenda Hale at the unveiling of the new World War One European Memorial at Woodvale Park in west Belfast
Brenda Hale at the unveiling of the new World War One European Memorial at Woodvale Park in west Belfast
Mervyn Craig, president of the Ulster Covenant and Historical Society at the exhibition which remembers the fallen of the Great War

By Nevin Farrell

A unique new war memorial, which remembers the deaths of German soldiers along with the Allies in World War One, has been unveiled in Woodvale Park in the greater Shankill area of west Belfast.

The European War Memorial was commissioned by the Army Benevolent Fund.

Belfast branch chairman Bobby Foster told the Belfast Telegraph yesterday: "We are well pleased with how it was received in the community."

He added: "We wanted to make it inclusive. It came across to us that the ordinary German soldier didn't get up one morning and decide to invade Belgium."

Mr Foster added: "We decided that in this decade of centenaries we would come up with something totally different and it needed to include Ireland and the UK and other combatants.

"Mid-Ulster Stone and Granite got a 6.5-tonne piece of granite and cut it in six sides to make it look a stone from the Giant's Causeway and that represented the Northern Irish and Irish element."

The stone also remembers the British Expeditionary Force, the French and Belgians as well as the Germans.

Mr Foster explained: "This is a totally inclusive war memorial – there is nothing like it anywhere."

He said it is sited in Woodvale Park beside a peace tree which is still there after being planted on Empire Day in 1919 following the First World War.

Mr Foster said a similar tree was also planted in Falls Park in Belfast on the same date to mark soldiers from that area of the city who were killed in the war but the tree "died of natural causes".

He said plans were afoot to replace that tree and discussions were due to be held.

Several senior unionist politicians, including Mike Nesbitt, Nigel Dodds and Jim Allister, were present at the event.

The war memorial was unveiled by the Lord-Lieutenant for Belfast, Fionnuala Jay-O'Boyle, and a wreath was laid by Brenda Hale, whose husband Captain Mark Hale was killed while serving with the Army in Afghanistan in 2009. Meanwhile, organisers of an exhibition remembering the fallen of the Great War said they were delighted to bring it to the heart of the Falls in west Belfast and that already they have had good feedback from residents.

David Gourley, from Friends of The Somme, Mid Antrim, who is also a member of the Ulster Covenant & Historical Society, said he was delighted the exhibition was currently on view in Falls Road Library.

SDLP Lord Mayor of Belfast Nichola Mallon and her party colleague Tim Attwood viewed the exhibition, which features a series of crosses with the names of the war dead who are buried in the Milltown and City cemeteries.

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