Pansies picked by a Bushmills solider at the Somme in 1916 have finally returned home.
21-year-old Robert Carson picked the bunch of flowers on May 31st 1916 and sent them to his parents in Bushmills - a month later he was killed in action,
His heart-broken parents pressed the pansies in his memory and treasured them until they passed away some years later. And thanks to a relative living in England who inherited the 100-year-old flowers, they have now come back to Bushmills and will be on display at this year’s Great War exhibition.
Speaking exclusively to the Times, Bushmills historian Robert Thompson explained: “Two weeks ago I had a telephone call from a lady in Lancaster who asked me if I would be interested in having something. I couldn’t hear everything she said as my hearing isn’t good on the phone. So I said “yes” and two days later I got a letter in the post from Mabel Glass and inside the letter was a card with a bunch of pansies inside that. On the card was an handwritten inscription saying: ‘These pansies were picked a few minutes walk from the Front Line on May 31st 1916 by Robert Carson.’
“It seems Robert Carson from Bushmills had picked the flowers at the Somme and sent them home to his mother and father. They had kept the pansies however their son was killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, July 1 1916. Robert’s name is on Bushmills War Memorial.
“His parents treasured the pansies for the rest of their lives in his memory and when they passed away they were given to Mabel. She eventually went to live in England and was now becoming elderly and wanted them to come home and have someone care for them.”
Delighted with the gift, Robert, who has compiled several ‘Heroes’ books about soldiers who served in the Great War (Ballymoney, Coleraine, Bushmills, Portstewart, Kilrea, Ballycastle, Inishowen, Garvagh, Aghadowey and Portrush), got the artefacts framed and is planning to display them at this year’s Bushmills and the Great War exhibition. He continued: “They will be on display at the exhibition in July which will be held at the Hamill Hall. I was worried that the flowers might be damaged so I got them framed. Mabel also sent me a lovely photograph of Robert Carson so that is included as well as the inscription at the back of the card.”
The Bushmills and the Great War exhibition is planned for July 1 which is quite a poignant date as it will be exactly a 100 years since Robert Carson’s death.
Robert added: “It would be lovely if Mabel could also come over to see the exhibition and the framed picture of the pansies. For her to be kind enough to send the pansies over is something words can not describe, Thanks to her we will always be able to treasure them and people up and down the country will have the pleasure of enjoying something so precious.
“There are many stories that have never been told but my last book, “The Bushmills book of Remembrance 1014-18” has unearthed a lot of things, among them items that have been handed in for display in this year’s exhibition. There are items lying in drawers that never see the light of day and that could be on display two Coleraine families have been in touch and are to bring some things over.
“I am also hoping to have Robert Quigg’s statue in place and revealed on the same date. It really will be an exhibition to remember!”
* If anyone has anything to donate to the exhibition please do not hesitate to Email Robert on: email@example.com