Ancre Association make memorable Somme trip

Garfield Gracey visiting the grave of his relative in France.
Garfield Gracey visiting the grave of his relative in France.

Members of the Ancre Somme Association have returned home after a special Somme expedition.

After months of planning and preparation, the group travelled to both France and Belgium to remember those who perished during the First World War.

Lexi Davidson, Secretary of the Ancre Somme Association, explained:

“It was a very thought provoking and emotional visit. To walk into a graveyard and be confronted by thousands upon thousands of white headstones, side by side, really brought home the scale of the loss of life. Then, to explore further and realise that many were merely young boys, cut down by German gunfire, before their lives had even begun, humbled me knowing they gave their tomorrows for our todays.”

Plans for the trip were carefully pieced together over the past two years, with a special Somme Committee meeting regularly to ensure everything was set in place.

“There were so many moments that will remain with me forever,” shared Mr Davidson. “In moments like standing below the colossal Thiepval Tower and reading the name of Lurgan’s own Private William McFadzean, I could feel the chill going right down my spine. Throwing himself on top of a bomb that he knew would explode and kill him - but he put the safety of others before his own. Would there be many would do that today? I’m not so sure!

“The Menin Gate was another similar experience. I was trying to take in the names of thousands immortalised around me who died during WW1. The place was silent and that silence was broken by a single piper. Im not ashamed to say that a tear came to my eye just as it is now as I recount how I felt.”

Members of the Association also had an opportunity to visit the Ancre British Military Cemetery.

“The Association take their name from this cemetery as it contains the final resting place of so many young men from the Lurgan and Portadown areas who enlisted with the 9th Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers,” said Mr Davidson. “Standing on high overlooking the many graves in the Ancre Cemetery as the names of those who died were read out filled me with pride and honour.

“We were fortunate enough to to receive funding from ABC Council that enabled us to secure the services of BNL Productions, who have recorded members of our Association as they visited the final resting place of their own relations. These will ensure that future generations have a better understanding of the sacrifice made by those who died and the pain felt by those that were left behind. This DVD will be available later this year.”

Visit ancresommeassociation.co.uk for more details