A Response To Jason Burke’s ” Somme Burn Out”: Billy Joe

Somme Burn Out

This article gives food for thought. Although he 1st July parade through parts of East Belfast has always been a commemoration of the Somme battle in 1916, in many ways it is only in recent years that the empahasis has been on that.
When I was young and growing up in the sixties, fully immersed in both the Orange and Band cultures i wouldnt have been aware of why I paraded on the 1st of july. Indeed I can remember discussing it with others of my age and the consensus was that the battle of the Boyne was actually fought on the 1st but it took 11 days before the news reached Belfast!! There has been a great resurgence within the loyalist/unionist communities of late to learn about the First World War in general and the Somme in particular. So much so that many would disregard much of the other history of that time to concentrate on this one battle. It is understadable why when you consider the heroics of those who fought and died that day in an act of utter folly. Jason is correct when he says that we need to educate people further and in a more expansive way. In many ways this is already happening–the rise of Somme and similar societies–pilgrimages to the battlefields–lectures etc:but there is a need to widen the scope. Jason is also right to point out that there may be a heightened interest in the Somme which may dwindle after the 100th anniversary in 3 years time. it is debatable if it will be remembered in the way that the victory at the Boyne still is today over 300 years later.
An interesting aside in this article was Jason mentioning the names of the streets around the Upper Cregagh Road where he grew up–Bapaume–Somme etc: Across the city there was another cluster of streets also named in remembrance of victories and characters of another British Army campaign as part of an alliance that fought the Russian Empire during the Crimean War of 1853-1856. You had Balaclava Street–Inkerman Street–Alma Street–all named after battles. Sevasatapol Street named after the siege–neighbouring Raglan Street called after the Commander of British Forces during the Crimean War. These streets were all situated in the Lower Falls area, but I doubt they would have held the same amount of interest or importance to the residents as those on the Cregagh did.

Billy Joe

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One Response to A Response To Jason Burke’s ” Somme Burn Out”: Billy Joe

  1. Exactly the point I was making Billy Joe, genuine appreciation of sincere sacrifice increases with age.
    I myself was raised in a family which carried and endured the legacy of the Somme for many years after the actual battle. My Grandfathers three brothers and my Grandmothers brothers all fought at the Somme.
    One of them came home and spent the rest of his life with two German bullets lodged at the base of his spine, too close to the spinal cord to be operated on. At various times after the war the ever grateful British Government threatened to remove his war disability pension, if he didn’t agree to having an operation to remove the bullets.

    In typical Ulster Volunteer Old Soldier fashion, he told them to go ahead and operate. On each occasion the Government backed down on medical advice.
    This is just one more example of England’s treacherous gratitude, and a warning to those fools who believe that the Union is now secure, because of the totally worthless Good Friday and Saint Andrews agreements, signed by completely dishonest, power and wealth driven politicians.
    So quite understandably the First of July Somme Remembrance Parade, always was, and always will remain by far the most significant Remembrance Parade, for past and hopefully future Generations of my Family.