WILLOWFIELD UNIONIST CLUB, Belfast.

WILLOWFIELD MEMORIAL TABLET.

Unveiling Ceremony by Sir James Craig.

The Prime Minister of Northern Ireland (the Right Hon. Sir James Craig, Bart.) Yesterday afternoon unveiled a tablet to the memory of the 64 members of Willowfield Unionist Club who made the supreme sacrifice in the great war. The occasion was marked by an impressive service, which took place in the Willowfield Hall, the officiating clergymen being the Revs. Robert Duff, Joseph Howe, and J. C. Rutherford, B.A., who preached. The extensive hall was filled on the location by the members of the club and their friends, and the Prime Minister was accompanied on the platform by the Right Hon. H.M. Pollock, D.L., M.P., Minister of Finance; Captain the Right Hon. Herbert Dickson, M.P., and the Hon. Mrs. Dixon; Right Hon. Thomas Moles, M.P., and Mrs. Moles; Sir Crawford and Lady M’Cullagh, Rev. A. Moore; Mr. C. H. Blackmore, C.B.E.; and Dr. Wm. Gibson, J.P.

The tablet, which is of royal oak throughout, is designed on classical lines of massive and pleasing proportions, with full columns on either side supporting an entablature and lion rampant at each corner of the cornice, all beautifully carved in high relief. Above each column is a panel boldly carved with the dates 1914-1919 thereon.

Breaking forward from the centre of the frieze is a panel containing the initials of the Willowfield Unionist Club, flanked at each end with a carved panel with a tudor rose, shamrock, and thistle entwined. Springing from above the centre panel is a finely modelled and chased flambeau and laurel and wreath pendant in Florentino bronze. The two plates below are also cast in Florentino bronze, having raised letters, with polished and burnished faces standing out boldly from the fine texture of the background.

The tablet, which is stained in a pleasing warm shade of brown oak and waxed to eggshell finish, reflects great credit on the designer Mr. R. Robinson, and the makers Messrs. M’Mullan Bros., Murry’s Place, Ravenhill Road, and the wreath, flambeau, and name plates by Messrs. Musgrave & Co., Albertbridge Road.

NAMES OF THE FALLEN.

William Atkinson, Ernest Adams, William Boland, James Boyd, Robert Bailey, William W. Black, John Boyd, James Currie, David Cromie, William James Dickson, Alexander Dalzell, Frederick Davidson, Alexander Finlay, Joseph Gardner, Arron Wason Gardner, William Gardner, John Greer, Townley S. Gillespie, Robert J. Gallagher, Hugh Herron, James Hughes, Robert Hughes, John Hamilton, James Hill, Frank G. Hayes, Samuel Houston, William J. Irwin, John R. Johnston, William John Kinnear, John Kells, John Lowry, James Logan, Samuel Miskelly, William Matier, Robert Maxwell(?), Stewart Morrow, George William Marsland, William E. M’Kegney, James M’Williams, James M’Intosh, David M’Knight, John M’Donald, William M’Keown, James M’Geagh, John Teskey O’Neil, S. Orr, Walter Peacock, William Reynolds, Andrew Ranson, Thomas George Stewart, William Stewart, Joseph Savage, Thomas Thompson, John Towe, Henry Vance, Robert S. Whelan, William Whelan, Wallace M’Mullan Woodside, Thomas Walker, Charles Richard Woodside, Charles Wright, Gilbert Donelson Watson, John Welch, James Murray Young.

The praise was led by Willowfield Parish Church Choir, Mr. Wm. Reside presiding at the organ. Mrs. W. H. Silk, L.R.A.M., rendered beautifully the sacred solo, “I mourn as a dove.”

THE LESSON OF SERVICE.

Rev. J. C. Rutherford, B.A., taking as his text “They shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.” (Rev xxi., 26), said as he thought of the memorial tablet to be unveiled that day by the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland the first thought that rose to the mind was this-what a waste of human life, and of the best life, too, of splendid young manhood with its promise unattained, cut off in the opening bud. The tablet, he was told, had inscribed on it the names of sixty-four young men members of the Willowfield Club and each one of them had paid dearly for the honour of having this name on that tablet.

Each of them had to die before his name could be placed there. To talk as he had been doing was human, but it was the pagan outlook, dark and gloomy, without the Christian rainbow of hope. He wished to banish from their minds, if he could, all thought of waste and of young lives not completed. He would ask them to girdle up the forces and nerves of their souls with the girdle of Christian faith and hope. Those lads were not dead; they had but marched along earth’s golden pathway of sunbeams to the other golden streets of the other land, to bring along with them the glory and the honour of the nations into it.

The Dead March in “Saul” was then played on the organ by Mr. Reside.

LORD CARSON’S LETTER.

Dr. William Gibson, J.P., read the following letter from Lord Carson: -“I am sorry that it will be impossible for lady Carson and myself to be present at the unveiling of the war memorial tablet in Willowfield. The occasion brings back to me many memories of faithful and affectionate support which I always received from Willowfield Unionist Club, and I can assure you I never forget for a moment what we owe to the brave men who went out at the call of their country and made the supreme sacrifice, nor can I forget the loss and suffering of those who were left behind to mourn their loss. May the tablet prove for ever a standing memorial of gratitude, and an incitement to others if circumstances require to be ready to protect the full liberties which those to whom you are doing honour have won.”

PREMIER’S ELOQUENT TRIBUTE.

Sir James Craig said he felt that he should also, like his old leader, pay a personal tribute to those men who fell in the great war. It seemed only yesterday that many of them there witnessed and listened to the tread of those men marching and counter marching in order to perfect themselves for the duty that lay ahead, but they had paid the supreme sacrifice and passed away. Had those men whose names were inscribed upon that tablet had the opportunity of sending a message there to their old friends and their old colleagues, he was perfectly certain that after they had thought of their own dear ones they would have said to them- “Remember those who have fought by our side; remember them all the days of your lives.”

He was sure they would also have said- “Stand firm Ulster; stand firm you great province, for which we have died.” Therefore, he thought it was only proper that he should assure one and all, not only their but elsewhere within their bounds, that so long as he was leader of the Ulster people he would always remember their comrades who were spared to return to them, and in so far as the boundaries of Ulster were concerned, they would be safe in his keeping. He believed that those were the two outstanding principles for which those who left here fought- faith in the people whom they left behind, and trust in those who were their leaders, not only at the time they went out, but the leaders that would succeed them, to keep Ulster for Great Britain and the Empire.

THE MEMORIAL UNVEILED.

The Prime Minister having unveiled the tablet, Mr. A. M’Kegney laid a wreath from the Club members at the foot of the memorial. The “Last Post” was then sounded by buglers of the Seaforth Highlanders.

During the unveiling ceremony the congregation remained standing.

Following the singing of the hymn “Abide with Me” by the choir, the Reveille was sounded, and the service concluded with the National Anthem.

An offertory was taken in aid of the St. Dunstan’s hostel for blinded soldiers.

Many thanks to Nigel Henderson for supplying the scan of the original newspaper item.

If you can supply additional information, photographs of War Memorials in the nine counties of Ulster, or wish to report errors, broken links, make comments, suggestions, requests, etc. please email
uwms@outlook.com
All contributions will be acknowledged.
Research is not been undertaken at the moment due to the pandemic.