For many years the memorial was looked after by a resident tenant in the tower (and in the early days there were also preserved trenches behind the tower; today there's a small copse retaining the 1916-18 contours, trench lines and shell holes).
Entry to the tower in those early days was only possible by borrowing the key from the superintendent. The tower was re-dedicated by Princess Alice in 1991 on the 75th anniversary of the Somme battle and is owned by the Somme Association.
There is a Swastika cut into the stonework on the top of the tower by a German soldier of the Second World War.
Memorial Chamber of the Tower at Thiepval. The Inscription on the Tablet reads :
'This Tower is dedicated to the Glory of God in grateful memory of the Officers, non-commissioned Officers and Men of the 36th (Ulster) Division, and of the sons of Ulster in other forces who laid down their lives in The Great War, and of all their comrades-in-arms, who by divine grace were spared to testify to their glorious deeds.'
accompanying visitors' centre was opened on 1 July 1994 behind the tower.
which tells the story of the Division in WW1. The centre has been run
by two Northern Irish couples since 2002, and is now open regularly every
day except Mondays. The centre has drinks and refreshments, snacks, books,
postcards and toilets. It also contains tourist information for Northern
Ireland and the Somme battlefields.
Close by is the remains of a German observation post on the defences called The Pope's Nose, and two military cemeteries: Connaught Cemetery and Mill Road Cemetery, both of which contain the graves of Ulstermen who fell on 1st July 1916.
The Tower itself is a replica of a well known Ulster landmark, Helen's Tower, which stands on the Dufferin and Ava Estate at Clandeboye, County Down. On the completion of Helen's Tower in 1867 it was dedicated by Lord Dufferin to his beloved mother Helen, Baroness Dufferin, who was the grand-daughter of the playwright Richard Brindsley Sheridan. It was in the shadow of Helen's Tower that the men of the newly formed Ulster Division drilled and trained on the outbreak of the Great war. For many of the men of the 36th (Ulster) Division the distinctive sight of Helen's Tower rising above the surrounding countryside was one of their last abiding memories of home before their departure for England, and subsequently, the Western Front.
It is erected on the site of the famous advance of the Ulster Division on the 1st July 1916
The inscriptions include the following tribute from King George V
Throughout the long years of struggle ... the men of Ulster have proved how nobly they fight and die.On Saturday 19 November, 1921, the completed Ulster Memorial Tower was unveiled by Field -Marshall Sir Henry Wilson.
Memorial Tower and Visitor Centre
Route de St Pierre Divion
Ulster Memorial Tower Appeal Fund
The Memorial Tower is dedicated not only to the men of the 36th (Ulster) Division, but also to their comrades in arms who served in the Royal Navy, the 10th and 16th (Irish) Division, the Royal Flying Corps, and the Royal Air Force. It costs a great deal of money to run, which the Somme Association, as a charity, is hard pressed to find.
The Appeal fund, therefore, was started in 1998, with three aims:
To provide the day to day running costs of the Tower and Visitors' centre.
• To set up and run an educational programme, and the recruitment of students from Ulster to
• act as guides during the summer.
• To develop the Memorial itself, possibly by opening part of the Schwaben Redoubt, to the rear • of the Tower.
You can help us by making a donation, large or small, towards the achievement of these three aims so that the sacrifice of so many, of all creeds and classes, may always be appreciated and never forgotten.
Donations can be made by cheques (made payable to The Ulster Memorial Tower Appeal), or Access/Visa/Mastercard (quoting your number and expiry date), and sent to:
The U.M.T. Appeal Officer
The Somme Association Limited
233 Bangor Road
BT 23 7PH
Tel: 028 91 823202
From overseas: 00 44 1247 823202
the Somme Association Ltd and Somme Hertiage Centre website at www.irishsoldier.org
for more information on this
A memorial at the front of the Ulster Tower dedicated to the 9 Victoria Cross winners from the 36th Ulster Division