THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: Trophies of war presented to town of Antrim

From the News Letter, March 23, 1924

Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 7:00 am
Alderman David Hilditch lays a wreath at the Co Antrim War Memorial IN 2008

Two captured German guns which had been presented to the town of Antrim had been formally handed over to the town’s commissioners by Lieutenant-Colonel H A Pakenham, reported the News Letter on this day in 1924.

The ceremony took place in Fountain Street where one of the guns – an 8-inch Howitzer – had been “placed in position”.

The other, an anti-aircraft gun, was located at the town’s Market House.

There was a large attendance at the ceremony, “many of the shops were closed for the afternoon,” and bunting was displayed along the town’s Main Street, noted the paper’s correspondent.

A procession was formed and was headed by the Massereene Brass and Reed Band and comprising of a detachment of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, under Captain A G Irvine, DI, a party of ‘B’ Specials, commanded by Captain Robert Thompson, ex-servicemen, town commissioners and Boy Scouts.

The lighter gun was drawn in the procession and other bands present at the ceremony included the Randalstown Pipe Band and Dungonnell Flute Band.

Speaking at the ceremony Lieut-Col Pakenham spoke of his pride of having commanded members of the Ulster Volunteer Force during the Great War, including a battalion of Antrim men.

He said: “Antrim sent 258 men to His Majesty’s forces, and, taking in the surrounding districts, the number was over 500. . .They took part in the victories at Thiepval, Messines, Ypres salient, and in the final rout of the Germans in 1918.”

Handing the guns over to Antrim Pakenham said he hoped that they would always be treasured and respected as something sacred given the sacrifices of the First World War.