Free talk on local involvement in Battle of Somme

Irish soliders pictured during the Battle of the Somme in July 1916.
Irish soliders pictured during the Battle of the Somme in July 1916.

Local people have been advised that historian Philip Orr will deliver a free talk at the Tower Museum tomorrow (Thursday) on the role of the 36th (Ulster) Division during the infamous Battle of the Somme.

With the centenary of the start of the Battle imminent, Mr Orr, author of ‘The Road To The Somme’, will discuss the traumatic experience of the men from the north west and the rest of Ulster who went ‘over the top’ on July 1.

The talk takes place at the Tower Museum on Thursday, June 23 at 7pm and admission is free.

Speaking ahead of the event, Mr Orr outlined the challenges faced by the local troops.

He said: “The 36th (Ulster) Division was made up of men from across the province and trained at locations across the North West during the course of the First World War, including at Finner Camp in Donegal.

“In the winter of 1915 and 1916 Brigades of men were attached to lines in the Somme area and by mid-March were preparing for the ‘Big Push’ in the summer of 1916.

“The advance in July saw thousands of men trying to take back control of the area around Thiepval but over 5,500 of the Ulster Division were killed, wounded or taken prisoner in the opening days of the attack.”

In his acclaimed book, Philip Orr interviewed veterans of the battle to paint a vivid picture of the reality of the conflict.

Their voices and those of friends of family expose the reality of war and the impact of the battle on communities across the north.

Mr Orr will discuss the personal stories of men of the Ulster Division on the Somme and the continued legacy of the battle in society today.

The talk is the latest in a series of events as part of the Tower Museum’s Remembering 1916 programme, delivered in partnership with Nerve Centre.