This page contains two images, the names of the FALLEN 1916 and 1919 and a report on the unveiling and dedication ceremony. Information on a Brave Tobermore Family and an account of the funeral of Bobbie Wisner, a Little Volunteer.
Tobermore L.O.L. 684.
MEMORIAL BANNER UNVEILED.
Speech by Sir Hiram Wilkinson, LL.D.
The Lodge will also remember, with fraternal sympathy, the other Orangemen of Tobermore who made the supreme sacrifice: –
Killed in Battle.
James Wisenor, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, (killed in battle of 1st July, 1916).
James Lee, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.
William Lee, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.
Thomas Winton, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.
Died in Hospital.
James Wylie, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.
The members of Tobermore L.O.L. No. 684 decided to perpetuate the memory of those of their numbers who had fallen in the great war by procuring a new banner depicting the charge of the Ulster Division on 1st July, 1916 on the Somme. The banner, which was the work of a London artist and cost 37 guineas, is a fine work of art. The view of the battlefield is painted in oils on the silk on a yellow ground with blue border. On the reverse is the conventional picture of King William on the white charger crossing the Boyne. The names of the fallen members are not on the banner, but are as above.
The Ceremony of unveiling the banner took place in the Orange Hall on Friday evening.
Lieutenant-Col. Robert Watters, C.B., J.P., presided, expressed his pleasure at being present at the ceremony in honour of the heroic and patriotic young men who volunteered to fight for King and country at the outbreak of war and save us from the horrors of a German invasion. Their district was small, but he thought that in proportion to the population they had done as well as any part of Co. Londonderry. He was told that 126 had volunteered from Tobermore and district. The Ulster Division won immortal renown on the Somme. Their own regiment rushed forward on that memorable 1st July shouting the immortal battle cry of “No Surrender.” (Cheers.) Whilst they were proud of the heroism of the men yet sad memories cluster round the battle of the Somme. It was on that day that two most worthy young men from their midst; lost their lives-two brothers, James and Willie Lee. They were faithful unto death. Their lives were pure and they died gloriously. In every church there should be a memorial tablet with the names of those who had laid down their lives for their country. In his church it was intended to place such a memorial. (Hear, hear.)
Bro. Samuel Nelson presented Sir Hiram Wilkinson with a silver knife with the following inscription:
“Presented to Sir. Hiram Wilkinson, LL., D.L., by L.O.L. No. 684, Tobermore, on the occasion of unfurling the memorial banner.”
On the opposite side was engraved:
“For H. P. Wilkinson, B.C.L., absent on service.”
Bro. Nelson explained that when the question arose of who would be asked to unfurl the banner, it was agreed that no one was so deserving as Mr. H. P. Wilkinson, who founded the Unionist Club and make such a lasting impression upon all who knew him. He was in China, however, and it was decided to ask Sir Hiram to unveil the banner on behalf of his son, and he consented at once. On behalf of the Lodge he asked Sir Hiram to accept the knife for his son, whom they hoped to see again amongst them, and not only him, but his wife and children they will all be glad to see. (Applause.)
Sir Hiram Wilkinson said that before unveiling the banner he would refer to the part taken in the campaign by the Ulster Division. When the Central Powers launched their long-prepared campaign there was a call for men to fill up the ranks and a new army had to be created. There was no pressure put upon, the men of Ulster not one of whom was conscripted. Each man was a volunteer and went willingly, and enthusiastically to fight for freedom. (Cheers.) They had been preparing to resist the enslavement of Ulster, and it was that preparation which made their services of so much at an early stage. They were better prepared than any volunteers throughout this country, and nobly they fought until victory came. Some of the men who went out from the district had had their baptism of fire before the battle of the Somme began, but it was there the first of them fell and the others continued to fight, and one of them fell in the battle of victory. They began well, continued well, and ended well.
The speaker proceeded to read General Nugent’s “Order of the Day,” eulogising the valour of the Ulster Division, with which our readers are already acquainted, concluding with the statement that “Ulster has every reason to be proud, of the men she has given to the service of the country, and though many of our best men have gone, the spirit which animated them remains in the Division and will never die.” (Cheers.) That, said Sir Hiram, w as the tribute of the commanding officer, and it might be said that he would naturally speak well of his men, but one can see even in an official document that the loyalty, and devotion of the men made a deep impression on their commander. That impression was felt throughout the whole army, and had been recognised and recorded for all time in the history of the war.
Sir Hiram proceeded to read the description of the charge of the Ulster Division given by Sir Conan Doyle in his “British Campaign in France.” The writer mentioned as outstanding names Colonel Bernard of the 10th Rifles; Captain Davidson who worked the machine gun after his leg was shattered, and Major Gaffikin, who had led his company waving an orange handkerchief in his hand. “It was no wonder,” said Sir Hiram in conclusion, that the lodge, in choosing a design for the banner should choose a picture of that day’s’ work on the Somme on 1st July, 1916.
Sir Hiram proceeded to read the names of the men, the audience standing, after which he severed the cord holding the veil over the banner amid loud applause.
Rev. W. C. Cowden, Presbyterian minister, moved a vote of thanks to Sir Hiram for the honour he had done to that lodge in performing that ceremony and for his inspiring address. The Orangemen perpetuated the great victory of freedom, the Battle of the Boyne, but today they have a greater place in the esteem of the community for the way in which they answered the call of King and country in the late war. (Applause.) We are living in ominous times, and it was the duty of every citizen of the Empire, and particular those of Ulster, to see to it that they will not submit to any rule but the rule that comes through the Union. (Cheers.)
Rev. J. Maxwell seconded the motion and exhorted the Orangemen to beware of sullying the new banner by intemperance. Sir. H. Wilkinson, in reply to the vote of thanks, said he would convey to his son their present, and he would be proud of the way his name was received. He mentioned that the officer who was killed when leading his men waving an Orange handkerchief was a nephew of his own. (Applause.)
Mid-Ulster Mail 20th September 1919 page 5
TOBERMORE ROLL OF HONOUR
IMPRESSIVE UNVEILING CEREMONY.
Speech by Mr. D.S. Henry, K.G., M.P.
An interesting and impressive ceremony took place in Tobermore Orange Hall on Saturday evening last [1st July 1916], when a Roll of Honour containing the names of 90 members of the Tobermore Unionist Club who volunteered for the service of King and Country in the present war, was unveiled by Mr. Dennis Henry, K.C., M.P., recently elected member from South Derry. The Roll of Honour was inscribed on a splendid oil painting, the work of Mr. Samuel Nelson, Tobermore, who for half a century has painted flags and banners for the Orangemen of South Derry and elsewhere; and although he is now approaching to the “allocated span” this his latest work gives evidence that “his eye is not dim nor his natural strength abated.” His hand has not lost its cunning, and the fine painting does him infinite credit. It contains portraits of his Majesty King George V. and Sir Edward Carson, and the following names, (those marked * are brothers, except the Wisners, where there is a father and six sons) [actually a father, his four sons and his two brothers]): –
FOR KING AND COUNTRY.
WHY THEY WENT.
Their country called them and they went,
They counted not the cost,
So long as they might play their part
All else they thought well lost.
God bless and keep them from all harm
Wherever they may be,
And grant that when their task is done
They’ll come home safe and free.
GOD OUR TRUST.
These young men were all members of the Unionist Club, Tobermore, and all volunteered to go and fight for Truth and Righteousness against the tyranny of Germany.
This club was founded by Mr. Parkes Wilkinson, C.B.L.
God save the King.
KILLED IN BATTLE.
James Waters, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, (killed in battle on 1st July 1916).
Thomas M’Gonigal, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.
Fleming M’Cready, Royal Irish Fusiliers.
Henry Leacock, Royal Irish Rifles.
Matthew Golgan (killed in final battle of victory)
Volunteers from Tobermore and District up to July 1916.
* indicates family members.
*Sam Anderson. (Canada)
Willie Anderson, Tobermore.
Robert Atkinson, Canadian.
Henry Ester, Canada,
Willie Martin, Canada.
*FLEMING McCREADY, (killed 15/3/15)
*Willie McCready, Canadian (brother of above)
*TOM McGONIGAL, (killed)
Wallace McKee, Canadian,
SANDY PATTERSON, Canadian (killed),
Mat Colgan, Canada,
BOB LYLE, (killed.)
Sam McKee, Canada,
*Gerald G. Diamond,
David Stewart, Canada,
* William Todd,
**William Wisner, (sen.)
**Jas. Smylie Wisner,
*David Winton, Canada,
2nd. Lt. C.L.G. Wilkinson,
2nd. Lt. Jos. Lowry,
2nd. Lt. S.J. Henderson,
* Tom Young,
*Sam Johnston, Canadian,
Andy Johnston, Canada,
Robert Wallace, Canada,
Sam Hanna, (jun.)
S. Peacock, Blackhill,
Sam Orr, Blackhill,
Sam Taylor, Blackhill,
The meeting was announced to commence at 8 o’clock and at that hour the spacious hall was filled by an assemblage of the inhabitants of the village and district of both sexes.
On the motion of Mr George McDonald, secretary of the Club, seconded by Mr. Alexander Hanna, Blackhill, Sir Hirman Wilkinson, D.L., took the chair amid applaud. He read a letter of apology from Col. Waters, White Fort, Tobermore, expressing regret at being unable to be present, and adding that too much honour could not be done to, or the heroism and devotion even unto death, sufficiently appreciated of the gallant and patriotic young men of Tobermore and surrounding district who had volunteered their services in defence of their King and country in this terrible war, and for the protection of our homes and lives. The Roll of Honour would be a permanent memorial of their heroism and an inspiration to others in after times to follow their noble example in time of need. (Applause.)
The Chairman said it was with great pleasure that he was there that evening, and that pleasure was attributable to more than one circumstance. He was pleased and proud to be there at the unveiling of the Roll of Honour of the men who had gone out from the town, and from that Club, in the founding of which his son had taken such an active part. (Applause.) The Club was founded before anyone thought of a European war. There were some murmuring of internecine strife, but the objects for which the Club was founded were right and proper objects, not merely right and proper from an Ulster point of view, but from the point of view of the Empire. (Hear, hear.) The foundation of the club had been justified fully by the events. Circumstances had changed; events had occurred which were not foreseen, but the usefulness of the Club to the Empire had been greater than ever was contemplated. (Applause.) Nothing greater was desired then and nothing greater was desired at the present moment. We considered that it would be a disaster to ourselves and no less a disaster to the Empire if the whole of this country were to be in such a position as to be dissevered from the Empire. Since that time men have seen and have been more than ever convinced of the advantage the Empire gives to everyone in its parts, and Ireland is no less a part of the Empire than the great Dominions of Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. Nothing that tends to cause a greater separation of any parts from England could be of advantage to the Empire. England was at this moment the Mother Country, the symbol of Empire, and in speaking of severance from England we speak of severance from freedom. What would be the condition of England or any of the Dominions as separate from England while the envy and greed of the central European Powers was directed always towards their absorption? The one thing which was not contemplated when the Club was founded was the outbreak of a European war and they now knew the advantage that Club and other similar Clubs had been in providing the Empire with its fighting men. (Hear, hear.) They had all a right to be proud of the result the Club had brought about for without it there would not have been such recruiting for the Empire, notwithstanding the desire of the men to serve it. He believed that there was no village in the United Kingdom could give a better account of what it has done. (Applause.) Tobermore and its surroundings was not a far field. The last census showed 89 houses in the village and there were now 91 men on the Roll of Honour. (Applause.) Four of these that laid down their lives in the service of the country. The Club have done good work in that way. It had also done much good work in another way. Things had occurred recently which would make some people think that the Clubs had not done much good for the objects for which they were founded, but if these Clubs had not been founded there would have been no question of exclusion of the six counties; it would have been taken for granted that we would have been included in it and had we objected coercion would have been applied to us. Our Covenant was exclusion of the whole nine counties of Ulster, but circumstances had arisen which caused that demand to be modified and there was the possibility of arrangements been carried out whereby three of those counties are to be included in the Parliament in Dublin. We regretted that, but had the satisfaction of knowing that the Unionists of these three counties were quite convinced that it was the right thing to take the inclusion of the six counties. And it was recognised by the Unionists in the other three counties that we were not leaving them in the lurch. He was convinced that it was a mistake to have Home Rule at all (applause), that the Empire would be stronger if the Government saw fit to refuse Home Rule. But the question had been taken out of our hands and it was considered to be in the interests of the Empire that Home Rule be given with the exclusion of the six counties. The Club was founded in the interests of the Empire and in that interest they had accepted that arrangement and whatever happened the members of the Club now being honoured had brought great honour to it. (Applause.) He was pleased to be present also because the Memorial was to be unveiled by Mr. Dennis Henry (loud and prolonged applause), who had come amongst them for the first time since his election as their member of Parliament. They had the satisfaction of knowing him as he came from their own neighbourhood. They were glad to see him and give him a hearty welcome. (Applause.)
Mr. D.S. Henry, M.P., who, in coming forward was again loudly cheered, said they were met to perform a bare act of justice-to acknowledge indebtness to these brave men. While he was speaking millions of men in all quarters of the world were arrayed against each other, and while we were here in peace, death was busy amongst them. Across the channel in England the war was brought home to the people in a way that happily we, in Ireland, did not experience. When the members of the communities in various places retired at night, engines of destruction that flew in the night were often busy, and the people rose in the morning to look upon scenes of destruction and desolation, and on murdered women and children representing the glory of the German ideal. It was not to be wondered at that men over there had gone to the colours in hundreds of thousands. But the men they were met to honour did not need such incitement as that. They rose up willingly to the call of duty and left behind those who were near and dear, left a life of contentment and happiness and went forth to take their post in the realities of war. And their example would be cherished by the men and women he was addressing for many a long day. And so they should never let it be forgotten that these men had given of their best for the people there present as well as for their King and country. (Applause.) Some of them had made the supreme sacrifice, and given life itself-given ungrudgingly and bravely. Their nameless graves had been made by strange, though kindly hands, and they reposed in a foreign land, and it rested with those left to see that their memory was cherished and that obligation would be kept. Consider what these men had done. They went out from the civil community into a state of war. And while at all times in the world’s history there have been war, the wars of the old days was as but a playtime to the present awful conflict. It fills one with sorrow to see how science and learning were being applied by a great nation for a purpose of destruction. There was dead in the air, death in the hidden and secret mine, poisonous breath, all forms of engines for the purpose of mutilation and death. Yet notwithstanding all this horror these men had gone voluntarily from peaceful lives in the village, responding to the call of duty and taking upon themselves all the risks and dangers that the profession of arms now mean. It was easy for him to speak or for people to listen, but tomorrow when enjoying a day of calm and rest let it be remembered that for these wonderful men in the trenches there is no day of rest. Death is always with them and always around them, and they were bearing our burden. As he had said some of these men had met death-met it with courage, but, please God, many of them would survive. Let us trust and pray that God would spare them to revisit their homes and to once again take up their peaceful avocations. (Applause.) Some of them had left wives and children behind. It was our duty to sympathise with and help to enlighten the load of all left at home-to dry the tears of the widows and the fatherless. The sacrifices these men have made were not thrown away. Even now signs of victory were apparent. (Applause.) Even now the just retribution that will fall upon the nation that has brought upon the nations of the earth that terrible strife, and the individual that is most responsible of all for these horrors upon the civilised world, there are portents that a just retribution is approaching. (Applause.) And when that has been achieved and our men return again let us see that we will welcome them as they deserve to be welcomed. (Applause.) We must not be unmindful of all they have done and suffered for us, but meet them with gratitude, and with thankfulness shake their strong right hand, and congratulate them on what they have done for us, and for King and country. (Applause.) And their names as placed on record on this Roll of Honour will show to those who come after us, as a permanent memorial, what this brave band from the village and neighbourhood had done. Some of them had gone to the Great Dominion beyond the sea, but they heard the call there and had come back to take their part in the great struggle in which the Empire was engaged. They were not forgetful of their obligations out there, to their old homes; they recognised them and were willing to discharge them. (Applause.) These men deserved an enduring memorial, not only written on that Roll, but engraven on our hearts, a grateful recollections of their deeds and the obligations we were under to them for their sacrifices. It must never be forgotten that when the country required their services they were not found wanting. (Applause.) He considered it a very great honour to be asked to unveil that Roll of Honour. It was no mere empty formality. Let then be pointed out to the children coming after, these names of the men who had bled and died for their country, whose glorious example would be a shining light to the coming generations. He now removed the veil with a full heart.
The removal of the Union Jack from the face of the Roll was the signal for a loud outburst of cheering, mingled with hardly suppressed emotion. There were tears in many voices as the large audience joined in the singing of the National Anthem.
Mr. Samuel Nelson, the painter of the Roll, in proposing a vote of thanks to Mr. Henry for unveiling it, made such touching reference to the young men in the trenches, whose names he had so cleverly transferred to the canvas, as showed his work to have been a labour of love.
Mr. George McDonald, in seconding, said Mr. Henry had responded to the invitation to come that evening, doubtless at considerable inconvenience. It was his first visit since his election and they were glad to see him. They’re especially liked him because he was a neighbour and in the years to come he hoped, when Mr. Henry would be elevated to the judicial bench, that they would elect another neighbour in his place. (Applause.)
The vote of thanks having been passed with enthusiasm and conveyed.
Mr. Henry, in responding, said he had attended with very great pleasure. He had lately asked for their support and had got it, for which he thanked them. He might soon ask for it again under very altered circumstances and was sure he would get it. (Applause.) He assured then that anything he could do in the way of war service or in the service of the Union he would do. (Applause.)
Mr. Francis Miller, N.T., in proposing a vote of thanks to the chairman, said there was no more fitting man in Ireland to preside at such a gathering. He had been an Empire builder and now his son, who had started that Club, was an Empire builder, being a judge in a British dependency. Sir Hirman in addition to his work for the state had always taken a great interest in Tobermore, and had always endeavoured to advance the interests of the people.
Rev. J.A. Kelly, A.B., rector of Tobermore, seconded the vote of thanks.
The Chairman, in responding, said his son who had founded that club was at the present time engaged in most necessary work-preventing trading with the enemy.
The Chairman then presented Mr. D.S. Henry with a photograph of the Roll of Honour, after which the proceedings concluded with the singing of “God save the King.”
The Mid-Ulster Mail, Saturday, July 8th 1916.
A Brave Tobermore Family.
Next in the roll of heroes is the family of Wisners—the father and four sons. William, the eldest son, was in Toronto when the war broke out and he joined the 48th Canadian Highlanders. When he came to England he (illegible). On his return he went to France and immediately on his landing he took part in a charge. He received a bayonet wound and lay in hospital and on his recovery, he went back to the front, and has had some narrow escapes from shells. John his brother, has been severely wounded in the ankle at the Dardanelles and is in hospital. He was one of the first of our local men to volunteer, and was sent in June to Gallipoli. He took part in the Suvla Bay landing, and in the midst of the terrible fighting met Private R. Leslie, of Castledawson. It was at the taking of Chocolate Hill that he received a bullet wound in the ankle; he then lay for many hours in a ditch, in a hot sun, before assistance could reach him. Private Wisener is still a little lame from the effects of the wound, but is in the best of spirits. Joseph is also at the Dardanelles in the Signalling Corps. Alexander joined in Canada and is coming over to England, while the father is with the Ulster Division in England.
Private John Wisener, of the 6th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, who was wounded at the Dardanelles in August, has his father, three brothers, and four uncles in the Army.
It may be mentioned that out of these fifty from Tobermore and district there is only one farmer’s son. The rest are all working men who have gone forth to fight for their country. Mid-Ulster Mail, September 18, 1915.
The Funeral of a Little Volunteer.
One of the saddest funeral processions seen in Tobermore for a long time was witnessed on the 5th inst., [January 1915] when the remains of Robert Wisener, aged 8 years, son of Private W. Wisener, were carried to their last resting place in the Tobermore Presbyterian church-yard. The coffin which was draped with a large Union Jack, was borne by the men of the local Ulster Volunteer Force, of which the boy’s father and brother are members. The long procession, composed of the Volunteers and those who were home on New Year’s furlough from the different training camps, followed by the residents of the village and district, and headed by a piper, formed a melancholy spectacle, which brought tears to many eyes. The children of Tobermore National School under the principal, Mr. Francis Miller, were lined up on either side of the two churchyard gates, and stood to the salute as the cortege went past, and when the coffin was lowered, they gathered round the graveside of their little comrade and playmate and sang the hymn, “Hark a voice, it is from Heaven.” Only the preceding Tuesday the boy said good-bye to his father who was going back to Finner Camp after his Christmas furlough. On Thursday he took suddenly ill, and passed away on Saturday. Not only is Mr. Wisener in training at Finner, but four of his sons have answered Lord Kitchener’s call. William is with the Canadians at Salisbury Plain, John in Dublin, Joseph in Derry and Alexander on his way from Canada. The heartfelt sympathy of the village and district goes out to the parents and other members of the family in their bereavement. The services in the home and at the graveside were conducted by Rev. A. Thompson, B.A.
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