Aghadowey, Co. Londonderry.
Aghadowey War Memorial is on the B66 road east of Aghadowey Presbyterian Church. This memorial was erected at a cost of £700 and is the work of Messrs. John Robinson & Son, York Street, Belfast. Its height is 20 feet (6.75m) and the weight about eight tons. The obelisk is of granite, with polished panels, and mounted on a cement pedestal, having circular steps at top of six broad steps rising from the pathway. The site which is a triangular piece of ground was the gift of Mr George Gilmour.
Out of that parish 205 of their young people had volunteered to fight for their country in the great war, and 35 of them were killed. The inscription and names on the front panel of the obelisk, are; –
TO THE HONOUR AND GLORY AND IN GRATEFUL MEMORY OF THOSE FROM THIS PARISH WHO SERVED IN THE GREAT WAR, 1914-1919.
These made the Supreme Sacrifice.
Dogherty, J. M.
Harkin, W. J.
Kane, W, J.
Kennedy, G. M.
Lynn, T. G.
Peden, S. J.
Shirley, A. K. Nurse
“At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.”
Aghadowey’s War Record.
Obelisk Unveiled by Lieut-Col. Knox.
Touching Message and Ceremony.
An obelisk memorial to the heroes of the neighbourhood was unveiled at Aghadowey on Sunday afternoon by Lieut-Colonel R S Knox, DSO. The storm of wind and rain which broke over the district early in the day and increased in severity until after the ceremony did not deter a large assembly of residents and visitors from Coleraine and Ballymoney uniting in an event of sad and grateful remembrance.
The memorial has been erected at a cost of £700. It is the work of Messrs. John Robinson & Son, York Street, Belfast. The height is 20 feet and the weight about eight tons. It is made of granite, with polished panels, and mounted on a cement pedestal, having circular steps at top of six broad steps rising from the pathway.
The obelisk stands in a triangular piece of ground at the junction of the roads leading from the churches and schools to the main road. The site is the gift of Mr George Gilmour, Carnrallagh. The space is surrounded on two sides by a grass embankment and in front and rear by neat railings. There is a pathway leading through the gate and railings at the entrance to the memorial. The situation is well chosen and the monument will ever be a shrine around which will be offered many a silent prayer and many a tear of remembrance shed.
In promoting the scheme the late Mr Christopher Moon (solicitor) took a prominent part, and his death before the completion of the undertaking caused general regret. He was worthily succeeded in the secretarial office by Mr J C McCormick, who devoted much time to the duties. The committee in charge of the scheme included Dr H S Morrison, DL, MP (chairman), Captain C E Stronge, DL, Messrs. J T Moon, JP (hon. treasurer), Hugh McFetridge, Matthew McMath and Samuel R Miller.
The following had charge of the arrangements, in addition to the committee already mentioned – Messrs. John Gilmour (Collins), James Hogg (Clarehill), John Gilmour (Carnrallagh), Andrew McMullan, John Devenney, William Blair, Thomas McNeary (Gorran), Robert Hanna, William Cochrane, John L Finlay, W T McIlroy, F J Dempsey, JP, Alex Kennedy, Wm. Kennedy, William Reid, Thomas Kennedy, Thomas Warnock, James Gibson, David McQuigg, George Gilmour (Glenkeen), Chas. Morrison, Chas. Mabin, Andrew Gilmour, Matthew Taylor, Alex. Clarke, George Wilson, Wm. J Anderson, John H Hegarty, RDC (Rushbrook), Blair Cunningham, A Gillespie (Knockaduff), Geo. Stuart (Collins), John Ferris (Ballygawley), W J Wilson (Ballygawley), and John Kane (Ardreagh).
Prior to the unveiling and dedicatory ceremony a united service was held in the Presbyterian Church. There was a large congregation. The clergymen participating were – Revs. Thomas Doey (New Row Presbyterian Church, Coleraine), R N Lyons (Ballylaggan), S E Foote, and S W Morrison (Aghadowey). The ex-servicemen of the district, wearing medals and war decorations, met at the Parochial Hall, and, under the command of Captain W J K Moon, MC, marched to the church, where pews were reserved for their accommodation.
A telegram from Captain C E Stronge, DL, stated – “I pray that God may comfort the aching but proud hearts of those of our parish, who for a short time have lost their loved ones. They died that we might live.”
Minister’s Touching Message.
Rev. Thomas Doey, in an impressive address of remembrance, based on the words, “Lest we forget,” said he thought these words expressed the significance of the memorable occasion in which they were assembled. They almost resented the suggestion which the title contained. Did they not state again and again that they would not and could not forget? And yet they must confess that they did and would forget. If there was an exception to this it was in the case of those who had passed through the fires; those who went out into the thick of things, and those also who suffered the loss of those near and dear to them. They alone in truth could say that they would never forget. Memorial services, anniversaries, and memorials – what were they but a tacit admission of the danger of forgetting? In these they recognised the danger and provided themselves with a safeguard against them. The call of remembrance echoed from almost every page of Holy Writ. It was the call of their service that day, and it was also the call of the memorial which they had erected outside. Children coming home from school, men working in the fields, and passers-by would note and would hear the call; their memorial would bring back to their memories those who had given their lives in the great struggle, and generations yet unborn would also hear the call and would do homage to their memory. Their names would be held in everlasting remembrance. “Lest we forget” – they were gathered there that day to dedicate their memorial. They were reminded of the men and lads, and the women, too, of the district who responded to the call of King and Country and God. They counted not their lives dear unto themselves; they sacrificed comfort, home, friendship, love, position, and, in some instances, life itself. They went forth into the unknown, to unspeakable hardships, to terrible privations, to nerve-shattering experiences, and to devilish dangers. They waited, they toiled, they struggled, they suffered, they endured. Some had come back. They were there that day. They told those men with sincere and true hearts how they appreciated what they had done. They thanked them from the depths of their hearts for what they had accomplished, and they would not ask them to be content merely with their words. Please God, in the days that lay before them they would prove their high appreciation of what these people had done. But some had not returned. Some would never come back, and they remembered them specially that day. A Canadian soldier told Bishop Welldon during the war that “there were four crosses to be won in the war – there was the Victoria Cross, the Military Cross, the Cross of the Legion of Honour, and (after a pause) there was the little wooden cross over a fellow’s grave.” Many of them did not get even a wooden cross. No man knew their sepulchre. They gave their lives gladly and willingly.
Unnamed at times, at times unknown,
Their graves be thick beyond the seas:
Unnamed, but not to Him unknown –
He knows, He sees.
Lorna Bell had well expressed the feelings of many a woman’s heart these days when she cried –
In the trench upon the battlefield of France
He just himself is lying,
And shall never dig potatoes any more,
Just himself and me together,
In the spring and summer weather –
We’ll not set nor dig potatoes any more.
thanked God, Germany did not win. Concluding, Mr Doey said they owed a debt to the men who had returned, and they must confess that debt was not being discharged as it ought to be discharged. It was theirs to give these men at least the means of livelihood, to give them the opportunity of working, Many of them gave up good positions. They were promised openings on their return, and those promises had not been kept. Others filled their places today. There they had the tragedy of the thing. They must, as a nation, as a community, as employers, as individuals, recognise the debt they owed to these gallant fellows. They were worthy to fight. Surely they were worthy to work. Those who had not returned gave their lives for liberty, for righteousness, and for truth. Had they got these things? They owed it to the dead to complete the work they begun, and they owed full consecration to God, Who gave them victory.
The special offertory was to supplement the subscriptions to the memorial. During the offertory the choir, under the leadership of Mr A E Boyd, rendered the anthem, “Crossing the Bar.”
A Proud Memory.
Afterwards, Dr H S Morrison, DL, MP, and Lieut-Colonel R S Knox, DSO, proceeded to the pulpit.
Dr Morrison intimated that owing to the inclemency of the weather they had decided to go through as much as possible of the unveiling proceedings in the church. Out of that parish 205 of their young people had volunteered to fight for their country in the great war, and 35 of them were killed. They had thought it seemly that some public and permanent record of their admiration and gratitude should be erected as a feeble recognition of their great services. That monument would always be one of their most valued possessions. It would tell to coming generations of their people and all who cared to read a simple story of perfect citizenship. It would keep the sad but proud memory of heroic deeds sweet and green in the minds of relatives and friends and neighbours in that fair land of theirs for which their young manhood had fought and died. They hoped also that as people passed that spot they would think of the loyalty, faith and courage for which the memorial stood, and get such a vision of high unselfish service as would enable them to go forward with buoyant spirits and resolute wills in every path of life where duty called them.
Rev. R N Lyons then read portion of the 124th psalm and Revelations vii, 9.
The hymn, “Abide with Me,” was sung by the choir and congregation, and while all were standing the Rev. S. E. Foot read the inscription and names on the front panel of the obelisk, as follows:-
“To the honour and glory and in grateful memory of those from this parish who served in the Great War, 1914-1919. These made the supreme sacrifice ; –
Archibald, W. Barr, T. Campbell, J. Campbell, J. Dempsey, J. Devennie, R. Dinnen, W. Dinnen, J. M. Dogherty, J. Downs, J. Dunlop, A. H. Hall, A. Harkin, W. J. Harkin, W. J. Kane, G. M. Kennedy, A. H. Livingston, T. G. Lynn, J. McCafferty, S. Macauley, W. McGugan, J. W. McIntyre, J. McKeeman, R. Millen, J. Neill, S. J. Peden, R. Stewart, T. Stewart, H. Taylor, W. Walker, J. Woodend, W. Workman, R. Knox, Nurse A. K. Shirley.
“At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them.”
The “Last Post” was sounded by Buglers R and S Platt (Coleraine) and the congregation resumed their seats.
Dr Morrison said he would like, on behalf of the people of the district, to say that they felt greatly honoured in that the unveiling ceremony was to be performed by Lieut-Colonel Knox, one of Ulster’s most distinguished soldiers, and who was a leader of the Ulster Division almost since its inception. Colonel Knox was not only a distinguished military officer, but he was also a courteous and modest gentleman. He had won almost every distinction it was possible for an officer to win. They felt that Colonel Knox belonged to their own district, as there was only the thin dividing line of the Bann between them and place where he was born.
“Fighting D” Company.
Lieut-Colonel Knox, DSO, expressed thanks to the committee for asking him to unveil the memorial, and for an opportunity which it gave him of saying a few words on the course of the war and the gallant part played by the men of the Aghadowey district. In the past they knew that the Aghadowey men were always to be found on the side which stood for the vindication of right, and the war proved that this splendid spirit was still alive in the district. Most of the men from Aghadowey served in “D” Company of the Tenth Inniskillings. Men in the army were found of giving nicknames, and soon that unit became known as “Fighting D.” As the war went on “D” Company fought in a manner worthy of the title. They were engaged in many critical phases of the great struggle, and always kept their end up. He remembered how they took the slag heap at the Canal-du-Nord at Cambrai. It made him sad as he listened to the names which had been read by Mr Foot, as many of them were familiar to him. They looked at that memorial with mingled feelings of sorrow and pride. These men went out to fight for the right. They went out with the idea that Germany was a big bully who had broken a treaty with the ultimate intention of invading England. The enemy made many efforts to carry out that intention. Before the Ulster Division went out, at the first battle of Ypres, the Germans tried to push through to Paris. They recognised their mistaken tactics, and then tried to rectify them by pushing through Ypres to the channel ports. There were three battles of Ypres in which the same intention was apparent, and many of the men whose memory they honoured that day had died at Ypres in frustrating those efforts. The enemy tried an attack further south, and again the Ulster Division was there. They always had the idea that the German programme would not stop with the invasion of England, but that it also included the invasion and conquest of Ireland. The devastation in France made the men fully realise what an invasion of the home country would mean. Even those who had since visited the battlefields could not have anything like an adequate idea of what had happened there. In some villages there were not two bricks together, and in these villages the man lived, fought and died. There were square miles of woods in which one could not find a standing tree. Yet these men endured it all without complaint. He never more fully realised the wonderful spirit of the men than in the retreat from St Quentin in 1918. At that time most of their battalion had been split up. Mile after mile, in face of great odds, they were forced to retreat, but they had many scraps on the way. In fact, the Ulster Division did hold part of the line for a day or two, when the holding of it was of vital importance. It was hard to get the men to retreat; the greater the difficulty the more splendid did they become. He would ask them not to forget then men who had returned, some of whom were badly wounded and broken in health. Some of the men had gone wrong since they came home, but it never should be forgotten that they had for years been living in a hell upon earth, and all should be ready to extend to them a helping hand. These men were giving their lives for the King’s shilling a day when men at home were having a prosperous time which unfortunately could not be continued. He earnestly appealed to them to give those men their sympathy. The men did not want to talk of their awful experiences, and it was only when groups of them gathered together by chance that a little of what they had suffered was revealed. That Providence played a big part in the victory was admitted but the officers realised that one of the great factors in the reaching of the successful issue was the man in the front line trench. The officers made their plans, but these were of little use had not the men in the front line stuck to their posts.
One Who Was Missed.
Dr Morrison thanked Colonel Knox for coming, and also the friends from Coleraine and other places who had joined with them in that expression of affection for the men who fought and died for them. There was one name and one face – and he said this on behalf of the committee – which they missed that day. His name would have been on the memorial had his health enabled him to pass the test. That was the name of their former secretary, the late Mr Christopher Moon. He had all the drudgery and toil of the writing and dealing with the correspondence on behalf of the committee in getting this memorial perfected. It would have been a proud and happy day for him had he been there that day. Out of respect for him and his family, the committee had asked Mrs Moon, on behalf of the friends and relatives of the fallen, to place a wreath on the memorial after it had been unveiled.
The service concluded with the benediction, after which the congregation retired to the plot of ground where the memorial is situated. Miss Betty Morrison presented Lieut-Colonel Knox with a pair of silver scissors. The plinth was draped with a massive Union Jack, and as Lieut-Colonel cut the cord the four beautiful panels were disclosed to view. The front panel bears the names of the fallen and the inscriptions as read at the service by Mr Foot. The other three panels bear the names of those who also served, with the inscriptions:- “The men of Ulster have shown how nobly they fight and die. – King George;” “Their name liveth for evermore,” and “The path of duty was the way to glory.” Rev Thomas Doey delivered the dedicatory prayer, and reveille was sounded by the buglers. Mrs J T Moon, Ballydevitt, on behalf of the people placed a laurel wreath at the base of the memorial. Floral tributes were afterwards placed there by the relatives and friends of those who made the supreme sacrifice. The proceedings terminated with the singing of the National Anthem.
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