Group plan to spend week marking Somme milestone

William Frederick 'Billy' McFadzea
William Frederick 'Billy' McFadzea

It’s nearly 100 years since one of the most tragic days in the history of the nine-county province of Ulster.

On July 1, 1916, 5,500 Ulstermen were killed or wounded on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

The Portadown men, like those of every other part of Ulster, were serving in the 36th (Ulster) Division, and they were cut down by German machine guns as they went ‘over the top’.

Preparations are under way to mark the centenary of the Somme, and a record number of people from Northern Ireland will be travelling to France for the ceremonies, and pilgrimage to the war cemeteries.

One such group is being organised by people from the Tamnificarbet area of Portadown, and they will be spending over a week in the area of the Somme. It is planned to leave Northern Ireland on Friday June 24, 2016, returning on Sunday, July 3.

The group will be some 50 strong, and one of the organisers, Mrs Muriel Russell, said there are still a few vacancies in the party.

Details of the trip, the cost, and the itinerary, will be provided at a get-together in Tamnificarbet Orange Hall on Wednesday night, February 18 (8pm). There will be a light supper provided.

The organisers want to visit the graves of soldiers from the Portadown and Lurgan areas.

“To help with this, early notice with as much information as possible on the soldiers could be provided for us, to enable plans for the visit to the cemeteries,” said Mrs Russell.

“Anyone interested in the Battle of the Somme, especially those who would be interested to make the trip, will be very welcome at the meeting,” she added.