Crosses laid at Belfast City Hall to commemorate war dead

Crosses have been laid at Belfast City Hall in memory of those killed in the First World War ahead of the centenary of Armistice Day.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 5th November 2018, 2:04 pm
Updated Monday, 5th November 2018, 3:06 pm

It is one of six Royal British Legion Fields of Remembrance across the UK.

A service took place before crosses and commemorative markers were planted in memory of service men and women who fell during the First World War and other conflicts.

Many of the tributes carry a personal message to someone who lost their life during service.

The Belfast Field of Remembrance takes place at Belfast City Hall to remember those who died during the war. Pic Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker

Among the members of the public who turned out on Monday morning to watch representatives of the Royal British Legion, armed forces and other groups lay tributes included Harold Gordon from Saintfield, Co Down, who was wearing his uncle’s medals.

“I had two uncles who died in the First World War. Jack Peake, 24, was killed in the first hour of the Somme, July 1 1916, and the other uncle, Reuben was killed in 1917, he was only 19 years old and he disguised his age when he signed up by growing a moustache,” he told Press Association.

“My mother called her first boy Reuben after him. Jack won the military medal for gallantry because his officer was killed and Jack had to call the advance to charge over the top.

“They were from Ballywalter - there were actually three boys from the one family that joined up.

“Two of them were sent to France and because the other one, Joseph, had a love for horses, he groomed the horses in the south of England before they were shipped over to France so he then came back, but the other two boys unfortunately went straight into battle.

“My son is wearing Jack’s medals and I am wearing the young boy’s medals.”

Rina Brien, from Belfast, remembered her mother’s brother John Morris, who died at the end of the war during the flu epidemic.

“John Morris was my mother’s brother and they lived in North Wales, he was just 18 in 1918 when he died. He actually died in the flu epidemic but King George regarded those who died in the flu epidemic as having done just as much as for the war as the soldiers, which was wonderful,” she said.

Brian Maguire, area manager for the Royal British Legion, said the annual event is well supported by the public in Northern Ireland.

“We do this every year, it is one of six major fields across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and it is very well supported by the Northern Ireland public,” he said.

“This year has a particular significance given that it is the centenary of the end of World War One, and we are leading up to next Sunday which is Armistice Day.

“There are lots of additional events this year and I suppose the most significant event locally will be a service being held on the 11/11 at St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast.

“I think there is an increasing awareness right across the board about the importance of remembrance and particularly in this part of the world, the shared history people have across this island, particularly in the case of the Great War when tens of thousands of people from this island went to fight, and many did not return.”

The field at Belfast City Hall will be open for members of the public to visit and pay their respects until November 18.

More than 100,000 tributes are expected to be planted at the six Royal British Legion Fields of Remembrance, ranging from a little remembrance cross, Muslim crescent, star of David, Sikh khanda, Hindu orn or secular tribute.