Artist’s tribute to Somme fallen

Maria Hanna of publishers Hanna Fine Art (L) and Lyn Palmer of The Royal British Legion (R) look on as artist Lyn Steele signs the limited edition prints of her original painting of the Ulster Memorial Tower

Maria Hanna of publishers Hanna Fine Art (L) and Lyn Palmer of The Royal British Legion (R) look on as artist Lyn Steele signs the limited edition prints of her original painting of the Ulster Memorial Tower

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An artist educated at Portadown College is to have her work featured as part of the commemorations of 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.

Lyn Steele’s painting of the Ulster Memorial Tower at Thiepval, France is to be published by Belfast firm, Hanna Fine Art, as a limited edition of only 100 prints to mark the historic date.

And proceeds from the sale of the prints will go to The Royal British Legion.

All 100 prints will be hand-signed by the artist and will be inscribed with a potted history of the Tower and its dedication to the men of the 36th (Ulster) Division and all Irish men who served in the Great War.

Lyn Palmer, NI district community fundraiser for The Royal British Legion said: “We are so grateful to Hanna Fine Art for their generous support of The Royal British Legion. While commemorating the fallen of the Somme, the money raised from the sale of these magnificent prints will also help those serving today.

All proceeds raised will go to our vital work in providing practical care and support to serving and ex-Service men and women and their families in almost every aspect of daily life”

A special Certificate of Appreciation will be issued to the buyer of each print by the Legion.

Mum-of-three Lyn Steele said: “I am so proud that my work will be part of these important commemorations, which are such a significant part of our history. Like so many Ulster families, I have personal links with the Battle of the Somme as my great-uncle, Thomas Kilpatrick, died of his wounds on July 11, 1916. I am honoured that in some small way, I can pay my respect to him and all the other brave Ulstermen who lost their lives at the Somme.”

Born in Seagoe, Portadown in 1896, Thomas was a private in the 9th Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers and, although buried in Abbeville Communal Cemetery at the Somme, he will be forever remembered in and associated with Portadown as his name is inscribed on the town’s War Memorial and Seagoe Parish Church’s Memorial Tablet.

The widow’s penny which Thomas’ mother received following his death has been passed down the generations and remains a treasured memento to his family to this day.

The Ulster Tower, unveiled by Field-Marshal Sir Henry Wilson, Chief of the Imperial General Staff, on 19 November 1921, is dedicated to the men of the 36th (Ulster Division) and all Ulstermen who served in the First World War.

On the first day of the Battle of the Somme, the 36 th (Ulster) Division suffered around 5,000 casualties including almost 2,000 men killed. The Division won four VC’s on the day.

The Tower, financed by public subscription, was one of the first memorials to be unveiled on the Western Front.

It is modelled on Helen’s Tower at Clandeboye, where many of the men of the Division were trained.

For many soldiers, the sight of Helen’s Tower was one of their last memories of home before they went to the battlefields in France.