Enniskillen Methodist Church, Co. Fermanagh.
Unveiling of War Memorial.
Enniskillen Methodist Church was crowded in every part on Sunday afternoon when a most impressive service was held at which a memorial tablet to the memory of the men belonging to the congregation who had been killed in the war, was unveiled. Not only was every pew fully occupied but chairs were placed along the aisles, both downstairs and in the gallery, while many people had to stand throughout the ceremony. The platform and reading desk were draped in black, while large Union Jacks at both ends of the church lent a touch of colour to the scene and supplied a patriotic atmosphere which was enhanced by the present and contributions of the fine band of the 1st Bedfordshire Regiment from Finner Camp. Some men of both the infantry and cavalry stationed in the town and also a detachment of the Ulster Special Police Force, the majority of whom served in France, where also present. There was no military ceremonial parade.
The sermon was not ornate; it was a great thanksgiving service, a lay man’s fitting tribute to the memory of those who had fallen.
The memorial itself took the shape of a handsome brass tablet, of chaste designed and beautifully executed, surrounded by a solid oak frame and which was the following inscription.
To the Glory of God and in Honoured Memory
of the following
Members of this Church who laid down their lives
IN THE GREAT WAR 1914-1918.
LIEUTENANT FRED WILSON, 9th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.
2nd LIEUTENANT WILLIAM ARTHUR ARMSTRONG, 1st Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.
2nd LIEUTENANT JOHN W. WILSON, 6th Royal Irish Rifles.
LANCE-SERGEANT ROBERT CRAWFORD, 9th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.
CORPORAL ROBERT H. McCOURT, 2nd Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.
LANCE-CORPORAL HUGH STANLEY ROBERTS, 9th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.
PRIVATE GEORGE LALLY, 9th Royal Irish Rifles.
“THEIR NAME LIVETH FOR EVERMORE.”
Unveiling and Dedication Ceremony.
The tablet which presents a rich and handsome appearance was supplied by Messrs. W. J. Southwood & Co., Heraldic Engravers and Illustrators, Exeter, and at the conclusion of the service was much admired by members of the large congregation who then had an opportunity of studying it closely for the first time.
Prior to the unveiling ceremony the tablet stood on a large easel on the platform which was draped in black surmounted by a wreath of laurels.
All the musical portions of the service were sympathetically led by the military band under Bandmaster Vince.
The prelude to the service was the playing of O’Hara’s ‘The Perfect Melody,’ and the introductory remarks were made by Rev. R. R. Sayers, who had been at one time connected with the Enniskillen Circuit and served as a chaplain to the forces in France.
Rev. Sayers said he felt highly honoured at been asked to take part in what, he was sure, would prove an historic service in the annals of their Church. Their duty that day was a sad one and yet a sadly pleasurable one. They felt that they could not allow the years to go past without putting into some tangible form the feelings of honour and respect they entertained for those from amongst them who had served their King and Country so nobly and well during the great war. It had not been his privilege as chaplain, to be with the brave men whose names and deeds they were commemorating that day, but he had had the pleasure and privilege of knowing them all, with one exception, during the three years he had served on that circuit. It had been a great disappointment to him that he had not been posted to the 36th Division in France, but though not with them he had come in touch with them more than once as he was with the 55th Division, which was often in close touch with the Ulster boys. He had now the very pleasurable duty of asking the Right Hon. E. M. Archdale, D.L., M.P., to unveil the tablet. There was a great fitness in their choice of a gentleman to perform this unveiling ceremony. Mr. Archdale was truly a man of the people as he was their representative in the House of Commons, was Deputy Lieutenant for the county and had also shared in the common sacrifice for his King and Country.
The Right Hon. E. M. Archdale, D.L., M.P., then unveiled the memorial tablet and in doing so said it was to him a great privilege to come there and assist in doing honour to those members of that congregation who had given their lives to maintain the safety of their homes, the honour of the Empire, and the freedom of the world. They would never forget the noble deeds of these brave men.
The Hymn “For all the Saints Who from their Labour Rest” having been sung, Rev. R. R. Sayers in introducing Major Falls, said they were all very glad to have him on the platform with them that day. Major Falls was not only an officer to his men, but was also their personal friend who had been closely associated with them in the days of peace and again in days of very actual peril and danger throughout the fighting in France and Flanders.
Major Falls then read out the list of those men from the congregation who had served in the war and who had subsequently returned home. He appreciated very much the honour that had been done him in asking him to take part in that memorial ceremony. He thought, as one of the previous speakers had said, that this would prove to be an historic ceremony in connection with that Church. Such ceremonies as that made him feel inexpressively sad as they reminded him of the many dear and gallant comrades who now lay in their lonely graves in France and made him realise the great responsibility he had taken on himself, of inducing so many of them to join the army when the existence of their Empire was in danger. But looking back he thought he had acted rightly for two reasons. In the first place it was the bounden duty of these men to answer the call of King and Country no matter what the consequences and indeed these particular men was so deeply imbued with bravery and with patriotism that nothing could have restrained them from joining. He had been asked to say a few words as to what they were and as to what they did in the great war. As to what they were he could tell them in a very few words. As the Ulster division was second to no other division in the British Army so were the men from Fermanagh second to no other men in the Ulster Division. They fought like heroes and died with a brave smile on their lips. As to what they did in France he preferred to give them the record of what their Division had done as recorded in an “order of the day,” dated 3rd July, 1916, by Major-General Nugent, D.S.O., commanding the 36th Division, and an officer not given to promiscuous praise.
Proceeding, Major Falls said that was the story of the men they mourned and honoured that day. The Last Post would shortly be sounded in that Church, but it was his firm and sincere conviction that for these gallant men the Reveille had already sounded and that they had wakened in a far better world than this, to await those who were to follow them. Such unselfish sacrifice, such patriotism, such Christianity, had been theirs that they had laid down their lives that others might live in freedom.
The Hymn “Peace, Perfect Peace,” having been feelingly rendered by the whole congregation, Rev. R. R. Sayers delivered a touching and most interesting address from the text 12th Chapter of Joshua and 4th verse-“And these stones shall be made a memorial onto the Children of Israel for ever.”
In the course of his remarks the speaker describes some of his experiences as a Chaplain in France and in concluding said that although they did not know all the details they might feel sure that the dear boys whose death they were now commemorating had done their part well and that they were not found wanting in the day of trial.
The Dead March in “Saul” having been rendered by the band, the “Last Post” was sounded, and a memorable service terminated with the pronouncing of the Benediction and the singing of the National Anthem.
The Fermanagh Times, February 10, 1921.
LIEUTENANT FRED WILSON, 9th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Lieutenant Wilson was killed in action on 24th of March, 1918.
2nd LIEUTENANT WILLIAM ARTHUR ARMSTRONG, 1st Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Lieutenant Armstrong died of wounds on 26th October, 1918.
2nd LIEUTENANT JOHN W. WILSON, 6th Royal Irish Rifles. Lieutenant Wilson was killed in action on 27th December, 1917.
LANCE-SERGEANT ROBERT CRAWFORD, 9th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Sergeant Crawford was killed in action on 14th April, 1917.
CORPORAL ROBERT H. H. McCOURT, 2nd Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Corporal McCourt died of wounds on 9th November, 1914.
LANCE-CORPORAL HUGH STANLEY ROBERTS, 9th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Lance-Corporal Roberts was killed in action on 1st July, 1916.
PRIVATE GEORGE LALLY, 9th Royal Irish Rifles and Royal Irish Fusiliers. Pte. G. Lally was reported missing in action September 30, 1918. His body was recovered on 3 October 1918
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