On march for Battle of Somme anniversary parade

The crowds will be out in force for the Somme parade
The crowds will be out in force for the Somme parade

The annual Battle of the Somme anniversary parade will take place in east Belfast on Friday.

The parade to commemorate the Somme and honour those who fought has been taking place since 1917, making it the longest running continuous Somme commemoration event in the world.

This year’s centenary event will be larger than usual as No.6 District are joined by Orangemen, women and bands from around the Province, including Hillsborough, Holywood and Whitehead.

District Master Raymond Spiers said: “It is an honour to lead Ballymacarrett No.6 District lodge in this centenary year of the Battle of the Somme. Many men from the east of the city served at the Somme, with many giving their all.”

He added: “The July 1 parade is not just an Orange parade; it is a community act of remembrance when the people of east Belfast pay their respects to the men of the 36th Ulster Division and other formations who served and sacrificed for freedom.”

A specially commissioned Somme centenary standard, which was unfurled and dedicated recently at St Anne’s Cathedral will be carried at the head of the parade. The standard depicts the insignia of the locally recruited 8th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles, (East Belfast Volunteers).

The chair of the parade organising committee, Jack Leetch said: “All the arrangements are in place for another great night. In this centenary year we will see 50 lodges and nearly 40 bands leave Templemore Avenue at 7.30pm.”

A short Act of Remembrance will be held when the head of the parade reaches the War Memorial on the Belmont Road, at approximately 8.30pm. A wreath will be laid and the Last Post played as the parade honours and salutes the war dead and remembers Ulster men and women who have fought in many conflicts.

The parade’s route is as follows: Templemore Avenue; Albertbridge Road; Ravenhill Road; My Lady’s Road; Woodstock Road; Willowfield Street; Castlereagh Road; Clara Street; Beersbridge Road; Bloomfield Road; North Road; Kirkliston Park; Holland Drive; Upper Newtownards Road; North Road; Dundela Avenue; Belmont Road; (Parade stops for Act of Remembrance) Holywood Road; Newtownards Road; Templemore Avenue.