Junior Orange parade remembers youngest Ulster soldier killed in WWI

Wreaths were laid at the towns war memorial during the Junior Orange Easter Tuesday demonstration in Carrickfergus
Wreaths were laid at the towns war memorial during the Junior Orange Easter Tuesday demonstration in Carrickfergus

A 16-year-old boy who was killed in World War One was remembered 100 years on from his death as hundreds of youngsters paraded through a strongly-unionist town.

A 16-year-old boy who was killed in World War One was remembered 100 years on from his death as hundreds of youngsters paraded through a strongly unionist town.

Twelve bands paraded along with Junior Orange members in Carrickfergus

Twelve bands paraded along with Junior Orange members in Carrickfergus

The Belfast Junior County Orange lodge parade saw boys and girls set out on the march in Carrickfergus, accompanied by a string of flute bands.

During the annual Easter Tuesday parade, a wreath was laid at Carrickfergus War Memorial beside the sea in memory of Samuel Williamson.

The Orange Order said the teenager is believed to be the youngest soldier from the Ulster Division to be killed.

Born on January 23, 1900, he died on March 29, 1916.

Young girls from 41 Ballymacarrett in Belfast joined the parade

Young girls from 41 Ballymacarrett in Belfast joined the parade

The biographical details provided by the Order state that “Sammy’s older brother Willie joined the Army and Sammy decided to follow in his footsteps”.

He falsified his age and enlisted in the 9th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles (West Belfast Volunteers) at 14, landing in France at the age of 15 years and nine months with the 36th Ulster Division.

Writing to Sammy’s mother, a Presbyterian chaplain said: “He was a good soldier, and died bravely while performing a very difficult and dangerous duty. His death is much deplored by all his comrades and officers.”

Sammy’s younger brother John also enlisted when he was underage, but was discovered.

Two young bandsmen enjoy a chat during the parade in Carrickfergus

Two young bandsmen enjoy a chat during the parade in Carrickfergus

Billy Ashe, DUP councillor and former mayor of Carrickfergus, attended the event.

It was listed as having up to 1,500 participants on its Parades Commission application, as well as 12 bands, and Mr Ashe said that this sounded like a reasonable estimate on the day (with the young boys and girls involved ranging from roughly eight to 16).

A short religious service was held, taken by Orange Order chaplain Rev Mervyn Gibson.

Mr Ashe said: “It was a great pleasure to welcome the junior lodges back to Carrickfergus.

“Everyone has enjoyed a glorious day out.”