History of the Friends of the Somme, South Antrim Association : Formed in 2003 by a small group of friends with a military interest, they wanted to keep alive the memory of the men who fought and died in one of the most bloodiest battles of the Great War. In particular, their emit is to remember the men of the 36th Ulster and 16th Irish divisions.
In total, almost 420, 000 British, Irish and Commonwealth soldiers were either killed, wounded or reported missing during the five long months of the battle at the Somme. Thousands have no known grave. At the end of the first day of the battle, on the 1st July 1916, the 15th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles was reduced to only 70 men.
The 36th Ulster Division fought and died, side by side with the men of the 10th and 16th Irish Division and we should not categorise the Divisions into what would appear to be the obvious political and religious groupings. For example the battle of Messines Ridge, in June 1917, the 36th and the 16th attacked together.
Since forming in 2003, the Friends of the Somme S. Antrim has held social evenings, dances and "a night at the races" in a bid to raise funds. They have visited the Somme heritage centre, the Inniskilling museum and even to France to the scene of the battle. They are currently planning more trips.
Anyone wishing to join the association, which meets once a month, can contact any of the members via this website. They will be more than happy to give details of meetings and events, similarly should any visitor wish to share their family's military history with the Association, or have any artifacts which they would like to show, will be made most welcome.