World War One artefacts found under hut at Co Down army base

Michael King, Heritage Manager at the Down County Museum, with some of the artifacts believed to date back to the First World War which have been found at an army camp in Co Down. The discoveries were made after more than 30 huts, originally built in 1915, were removed from Ballykinler. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday October 17, 2018. See PA story MEMORIAL Armistice Hut. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Michael King, Heritage Manager at the Down County Museum, with some of the artifacts believed to date back to the First World War which have been found at an army camp in Co Down. The discoveries were made after more than 30 huts, originally built in 1915, were removed from Ballykinler. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday October 17, 2018. See PA story MEMORIAL Armistice Hut. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

A dog tag, a section of uniform, pipes and matches believed to date back to the First World War have been found at an army base in Co Down.

The discoveries were made after more than 30 huts, originally built by soldiers in 1914/15, were removed from Ballykinler.

Undated handout photo issued by the Down County Museum of Armstrong huts at Ballykinler camp in Co Down, where items revealing the everyday life of men who were preparing to fight were discovered when more than 30 of the huts were removed. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday October 28, 2018. A dog tag, a section of uniform, pipes and matches believed to date back to the First World War have been found at an Army base in Co Down. The discoveries were made after more than 30 huts, originally built by soldiers in 1914/15, were removed from Ballykinler. Down County Museum will recreate one of the timber Armstrong huts based on an example salvaged from Ballykinler in 2012. See PA story MEMORIAL Armistice Hut. Photo credit should read: Down County Museum/PA Wire''NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further

Undated handout photo issued by the Down County Museum of Armstrong huts at Ballykinler camp in Co Down, where items revealing the everyday life of men who were preparing to fight were discovered when more than 30 of the huts were removed. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday October 28, 2018. A dog tag, a section of uniform, pipes and matches believed to date back to the First World War have been found at an Army base in Co Down. The discoveries were made after more than 30 huts, originally built by soldiers in 1914/15, were removed from Ballykinler. Down County Museum will recreate one of the timber Armstrong huts based on an example salvaged from Ballykinler in 2012. See PA story MEMORIAL Armistice Hut. Photo credit should read: Down County Museum/PA Wire''NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further

Down County Museum will recreate one of the timber Armstrong huts based on an example salvaged from Ballykinler in 2012.

Michael King, heritage manager at Down County Museum, said the artefacts will go on display along with the hut.

“The hut was taken down in 2012 but it dates back to the very beginning of the First World War,” Mr King told the Press Association.

“It was built by the soldiers who were volunteering at that point. They were being trained at Ballykinler camp and they built huts and they also dug trenches for practising for trench warfare.

A dog tag found at Ballykinler

A dog tag found at Ballykinler

“We know of several soldiers who were doing that - a guy called Tommy Ervine, from Belfast, recalls building huts and digging trenches.

“And the great thing is, when the hut was removed we found a lot of artefacts in the sand underneath that will now tell the story of the hut.”

The artefacts range from First World War era to when the camp was used to intern prisoners during the Irish War of Independence, American GIs during the Second World War, and subsequent soldiers who were stationed there during Northern Ireland’s Troubles.

Mr King said they are also trying to trace relatives of the soldiers who owned the items.

“We have got a dog tag - every soldier was given two dog tags and somebody lost this one, a fellow called Daidson, so we are trying to trace this fellow. We think it may have been from the end of the First World War,” he said.

“We have various pieces of uniform, one which says its from the Royal Ulster Rifles, a badge, matchboxes, a string for cleaning a rifle barrel, pipes, mess tin and a mug.

“We have got quite a lot of interesting things which tell you about the everyday life of the soldiers.”

Ballykinler is located in a remote area of south Down on the sea coast just north of the Mourne Mountains.

In 1914/15 it consisted of two camps: World’s End Camp and Central Camp.

It was described in an article by historian Philip Orr as having minimal facilities with a “rather bleak” atmosphere in winter.

Mr King said most of the soldiers sent to Ballykinler during the First World War were from Belfast.

“Battalions from Belfast were the main men who came down to Ballykinler, and they kept together in the areas where they lived and they went off to war together,” he said.

“They trained there, they built the huts, they had a big parade in Belfast in 1915 and then they went off to France, where many of them were fighting together on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, and many died on the first day of the Battle of the Somme in 1916.

“It was a short time between them joining up and going straight into the thick of it.”

The Ballykinler History Hut is set to go on display at Down County Museum next September.