Orange Order lodge in poignant trip to WWI hero’s Belgian grave

LOL 1050 lay a wreath at Lieutenant McLaurin's graveside
LOL 1050 lay a wreath at Lieutenant McLaurin's graveside
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An Orange Lodge which is celebrating its centenary year has made a pilgrimage to Belgium and France to pay tribute to the lieutenant who adorned its original banner.

At the end of last month members of Lord Carson Memorial LOL No 1050 visited the grave of Lieutenant Robert McLaurin who had adorned the lodge’s banner before he was replaced by Lord Carson in 1935.

Members of Lord Carson Memorial LOL 1050 at the Ulster Tower

Members of Lord Carson Memorial LOL 1050 at the Ulster Tower

The Royal Irish Rifles man was killed in action on June 7, 1917 at Messines Ridge and is buried at Dranoutre Military Cemetery in Belgium.

Prior to WWI he was a partner in the family law firm in Belfast along with his brother.

John Thompson, who organised the trip for 15 members to mark the lodge’s centenary, said: “Lieutenant McLaurin was on the lodge banner prior to Lord Carson who was painted on the banner after his death in 1935.

“Members of the lodge laid a wreath and said a prayer at the lieutenant’s graveside.

A photo from 100 years ago showing LOL 1050 with the James McLaurin banner

A photo from 100 years ago showing LOL 1050 with the James McLaurin banner

“It was a poignant moment to trace the lodge’s history.”

While in Belgium the lodge, which has members from the RAF and British Army and from Canada, England and Scotland, also visited Tyne Cot Cemetery and Menin Gate. In France they toured Thiepval Wood and the Ulster Tower.

Mr Thompson said: “The pilgrimage was a very humbling, educational and enjoyable experience.

“At the Ulster Tower our colour party had the privilege of taking part in the service for the 36th Ulster Division along with the British and French Legions’ colour parties.”

Mr Thompson, whose grandfathers both fought at the Somme, said: “I have a button off my granda Taggart’s Ulster Volunteer uniform. It’s dented – we’re not sure whether it may have happened during the war.”

Unfortunately one of the lodge’s members, Davy Ingram, was taken ill on the trip and had been in hospital in Ypres. He was due to come home yesterday.

Mr Thompson said the thoughts and prayers of the lodge were with him.