Introduction

Welcome to the South Belfast Friends of the Somme Association website.
On-Line since 1st June 2003

The Primary objective for this site is to allow the visitor to gain some understanding into the role of the 36th (Ulster) Division in the Great War of 1914-1918 and in particular to expose the awful reality of that tragic and bloody summer of 1916 on the fields of the Somme and the devastating impact it had on a tight-knit community that has since become a core theme in the Ulster Protestant tradition and mythology.
Here we follow the fate of the Ulster Volunteers who began by forming and arming themselves against the British during the Home Rule Crisis, and finished up fighting and dying as British soldiers on the far away fields of France.

One thing about the site must be made clear from the beginning. Although it was to become politically expedient to emphasise the Ulster Protestant contribution to the War effort and to play down the death and suffering of Irish Catholics, it must be realised that Irishmen of every kind fought on the British side. So although the South Belfast Friends of the Somme Association and this website follows the story of a largely Protestant Division of men, formed out of the old Ulster Volunteer Force, it is also our intention to commemorate all the Irishmen who gave so much in a war that they found difficult to understand.

After our formation in September 2000 and after many contributions to related worthwhile causes we decided to feed the growing thirst for knowledge about the Ulster Division, by creating this website to educate the un-informed and the interested. More can be found out about other objectives and contributions of the Associations, in The Association section.

We hope that you will find much to inform and entertain you here. As this is quite a large site with a wealth of information including photographs, digital video, music, relative research and grave location services and even an on-line merchandise store, we suggest that you set a few hours aside and make yourself comfortable, as we suspect, that as with the members of the Association and many others worldwide, that once you have set foot along “The Road to the Somme”, you will be sucked in and enthralled with the devotion to Country, Crown, duty and friend that these men possessed and of the many tragic and unnecessary losses and of stories of mighty deed in situations that no man should ever be called upon to experience.

Large sections of text on this site have been edited from the most comprehensive book to date on the subject - Philip Orr’s - “The Road to the Somme”, and in Philips own words, visitors should note that, while every effort has been made to avoid factual inaccuracies on the site, it is not always possible or even desirable to alter veteran’s recollections of a long-ago battle in the interests of strict historical fact. So much thanks must go to Philip Orr for doing the original research for his book, of which we used large parts for this site. A very large thank you goes to The Platoon for supplying the music and also to the Imperial War Museum for the video footage, which can be purchased on DVD from the Imperial War Muesum website, which you can get to through our resource section. (You will find full credit details and research sources in the Resource section)

The site has been designed to read best like a book, from beginning to end, but because of our easy to use navigation system you can jump to any anywhere within the site and not feel lost. On the next page you will find a complete site map to let you know exactly what you can find and where. It has also been designed to use Flash Player and Quicktime to optimise its performance for watching the movies, animations and playing the music. You can download Flash and Quicktime if you havent already, by clicking on their links on this page. Depending on your processor speed and bandwidth, it may take a few minutes to load the movies, animations or music, but please wait for them to load as it is well worth it.

Please take a moment to join our facebook page and please do call back on a regular basis as the site is not yet fully completed because it is an ongoing project, where we will be adding visitors personal stories, articles, photographs and submissions and you will also be kept informed of forthcoming events. When you call back you will find the new updates in the news box on the home page and if there haven’t been any new updates since your last visit, please just stay and take another look around the site and pay tribute once again to a brave generation, who gave their all for God and Ulster at 07.30am on 1st July 1916, a date and time that will be forevermore etched in the minds of Ulstermen and Women throughout the world...

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

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