Centenary milestone for Somme memorial

The Somme commemoration parade makes its way through east Belfast in 2015.

Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
The Somme commemoration parade makes its way through east Belfast in 2015. Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye

The annual Battle of Somme anniversary parade which will take place in east Belfast this evening, takes on particular significance this year.

The procession marks 100 years since Orange brethren decided to hold a parade to remember the sacrifice and suffering of the 36th Ulster Division at the Battle of the Somme a year earlier.

The parade – organised by Ballymacarrett District LOL No 6 – has taken place each year since, making it the longest running Somme memorial event in the world.

Large crowds turn out to see and support the parade and it has become traditional that those who were born in east Belfast, but now reside elsewhere, return for the evening.

Ballymacarrett District Master, Raymond Spiers, said: “The annual Somme parade has a special place in the hearts of the people of east Belfast. The number on parade and the crowds that line the route are testimony to this community’s commitment to remember the sacrifice of their forefathers.

“It’s great to see people from Bangor, Newtownards, Comber, from Lisburn and Carrickfergus, from all over the Province and beyond, coming home to share in this special night in east Belfast.”

It is predicted that 35 bands and over 40 lodges will take part in the parade which moves off from Templemore Avenue at 7.30pm.

Standards will be on parade representing the 36th Ulster Division and 16th Irish Division in recognition of the divisions fighting side by side at the Battle of Messines 1917.