Citizens’ response to War Memorial appeal praised ahead of poignant rededication

Thursday 11 January 2018

Members of the public have been thanked for their support of an appeal to ensure all local people who lost their lives during the First World War are remembered on Ballymena and District’s War Memorial.

Councillor Billy Henry pictured at the Ballymena and District War Memorial

Last year Mid and East Antrim Borough Council agreed the addition of verified missing names of the Fallen on the monument in Memorial Park, Ballymena.

In 2013 it was discovered that some local soldiers who died in The Great War were not honoured on the Memorial.

Research undertaken by History Hub Ulster found that up to 172 names could be missing.

A consultation was held from Monday 25 September until Friday 10 November 2017.

Members of the public put forward relevant information they had and the additional names are currently being verified by experts.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has undertaken to have the engraving of verified names completed on Ballymena’s War Memorial in time for the National Centenary of the Armistice on 11 November 2018. 

Mid and East Antrim Borough councillor Billy Henry said: “Thank you to all of those who came forward with new information regarding names they believe to be missing from the Ballymena and District War Memorial.

“A few months ago we encouraged local people and those from further afield to check if their ancestor is on the published list of missing names and, if not, for them to share their information during the consultation period.

“We want to ensure as best we can that all those who made the ultimate sacrifice from Ballymena and district are now remembered side by side on the Memorial with the existing names of those who lost their lives. This includes any relevant local women who served in clerical or nursing roles.

“As George Santayana said: ‘Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’

“I have spoken with the Chief Executive of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, Anne Donaghy, and discussions are already underway about how we best mark the unveiling of the additional names later this year.”

Ballymena and District War Memorial was unveiled in 1924 after a fundraising effort raised just over £1,000.

It is unknown how the 495 names were gathered by the then War Memorial Committee in the early 1920s but through professional research, using agreed criteria, it has emerged that some of those who were killed in action or subsequently died of wounds have been overlooked until now.  

Council will be seeking funding from the War Memorials Trust to cover some of the cost of the work.

Councillor Henry thanked local historians who have carried out research on the Fallen from the mid-Antrim area in the First World War. He said their work has enhanced understanding of the sacrifice.  

He commended the local historians who set up Ballymena and The Great War website in 2007 for their commitment in ensuring that the memory of these mid-Antrim soldiers lives on.

Photography: Councillor Billy Henry pictured at the Ballymena and District War Memorial