THE bravery and sacrifice of all those who lost their lives during the Battle of the Somme will be remembered during a poignant service at Knockagh War Memorial this weekend.
The annual event has been scaled back this year due to the Coronavirus pandemic, with a small group of people in attendance, in line with public health guidelines on social distancing.
However, it is hoped that as many people as possible will instead join in a period of reflection when the remembrance service is broadcast virtually on Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s website and social media channels.
Elected members agreed at this month’s Full Council meeting that the event would be streamed online to allow anyone who wished to show their respect and remembrance for the lives lost during the Battle of the Somme.
The virtual event will include historical contributions from Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of County Antrim and representatives from other County Antrim councils in relation to both World Wars and the Knockagh War Memorial.
The broadcast will also feature historical overviews of the Battle of the Somme and the Knockagh Memorial, as well as musical accompaniments.
The Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Peter Johnston, said:
“While we are unable to gather in large numbers this year for the Somme Remembrance Service at Knockagh, it is important that anyone wishing to join in tribute to the sacrifice made by so many has the opportunity to watch the broadcast.
“Coronavirus restrictions may have caused us to reshape the way we deliver our events to the people of Mid and East Antrim, but Council have shown commitment to respecting the dignity of our fallen heroes and honouring our heritage and history.
“The service, which has been pre-recorded before being broadcast online, will encompass the historical perspective of the Battle of the Somme and the two World Wars and their association with the Monument.
“Whilst the general public will be unable to attend, I hope this digital broadcast means they can continue to pay their respects from the comfort and safety of their own homes.”
Councillor Matthew Armstrong, who proposed the motion, said it was “vitally important to remember the sacrifices made by so many from this borough, County Antrim and across Northern Ireland”.
The broadcast will be streamed online at 11:00am on Sunday 28 June via Council’s website https://www.midandeastantrim.gov.uk/somme and Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/MEABoroughCouncil/
e largest war memorial in Northern Ireland, Knockagh Monument was erected in remembrance of the men from County Antrim who died in the First World War.
Although the foundation stone was laid in 1922, the monument was not completed until 1936. After the Second World War, it was dedicated in remembrance to those from County Antrim who also died in the conflict.