THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: Great War exhibition to open at municipal museum

A  British soldier keeps watch on 'No-Man's land' as his comrades sleep in a captured German trench at Ovillers, near Albert, during the Battle of the Somme in 1916.A  British soldier keeps watch on 'No-Man's land' as his comrades sleep in a captured German trench at Ovillers, near Albert, during the Battle of the Somme in 1916.
A British soldier keeps watch on 'No-Man's land' as his comrades sleep in a captured German trench at Ovillers, near Albert, during the Battle of the Somme in 1916.
From the News Letter, November 9, 1918

On the day before the armistice was to come into effect the News Letter reported that an exhibition featuring “souvenirs” was to open in the Grainger room of Belfast’s municipal museum on Royal Avenue.

Highlights of the display were the side, bass and kettle drums of the 8th and 9th battalions of the Royal Irish Rifles (East and West Battalions of the Ulster Division) which had recently been presented by Major J D McCallum to the museum.

Also part of the exhibition was a printed copy of a proclamation issued by General Ferdinand von Bissing announcing the death sentence on Edith Cavell and other sympathisers for “having dared to favour the cause of the Allies”.

Also on display, the News Letter noted, were: “There are quite a number of German hats, helmets and kindred articles, and a large variety of grenades, shells and other weapons of warfare.”

Meanwhile flags which had been lent to the museum for the exhibition included one carried by a battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles in the fighting at Ypres and Cambrai, and a direction flag which was planted on the top of the Messines Ridge by the men of the Ulster Division.

The Military Cross and Military Medal awarded to the late Sergeant-Major R S Whelan which was accompanied by a photograph of the fallen soldier “enclosed in a frame made from a German shell”.

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