The Relief of Derry Commemorations on the 12th August was an exceptional day with an impressive turnout from Members.
The celebration of the 334th Anniversary of the Relief of Londonderry started on the other side of the world with the meeting of Australia Murray in Sydney, New South Wales, a little earlier this year, 29th July, with some travelling to be with us in Northern Ireland. At the special initiation meeting on the Friday evening before the big day, we had one Member made from Australia, accompanied by two Australian Brothers. Luke Williams was one of a dozen who were Derry Made that evening.
The newly Made were able to enjoy the main Commemorations on Saturday 12th. Ballinran Flute Band lead General Committee, while once again we had the Robert Graham Memorial Flute Band, from Crawfordsburn in its 50thAnniversary Year, lead the Murray Parent Club.
No-one, other than perhaps the Royal Household, had a ready plan in the event of the passing of Her Majesty. The Association undertook to provide the opportunity for Members to pay respects appropriately. All meetings during the Official Period of Mourning were cancelled.
On the first Saturday following the announcement from the Palace, Apprentice Boys from all Clubs, led by the Governor and Officers of General Committee, gathered to sign the Book of Condolence in Londonderry’s Guildhall. Gordon McMorris, President, signed for the Murray Club.
Branch Clubs also took part in local events to mark the passing of Her Majesty: local Memorials serving as focal points. Pictured here are two; Upperlands Murray, and Wishaw Murray.
On the day of the Funeral the Governor, Graeme Stenhouse, Officers of General Committee and Apprentice Boys presented a special floral tribute in Honour of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to the Dean of St Columb’s Cathedral; remaining in St Columb’s Cathedral Londonderry to watch The State Funeral of Her Majesty from Westminster Abbey as the Nation bade a sad and fond farewell.
At the end of October Aghadowey Murray celebrated its 90th Anniversary as a Branch Club. A dinner was held at the Royal British Legion in Ballymoney, with the President, Bro. Gordon McMorris, and Secretary, Bro. David Hoey, of the Parent Club in attendance.
Two fifty year jewels were presented, to Bros. William Doey and Noel Stevenson.
Bros. Doey and Stevenson then ceremonially cut the celebration cake with Bro. McMorris, along with The President of Aghadowey, Bro. Edward Acheson (right) and Vice-President Bro. Richard McMullan.
Entertainment for the evening was by the always excellent Kellswater Flute Band.
The following day the Parent Club Secretary, Bro. Hoey, headed over to Glasgow and the delayed visit to Wishaw Murray Club. The original plan had been to attend in June 2020 for the 10th Anniversary of the founding of the Club. However, COVID. And the trip was postponed to October 2020, to June 2021 and finally realised at the end of October 2021.
The Secretary officiated at the Installation of the Club Officers for the coming year and commended the Officer team for sustaining the Club through difficult times and looking forward to seeing Wishaw Murray continue to grow in the years ahead.
Following the formalities of the day there was an afternoon of harmony, with good company and the good cheer magnified by a couple of sessions from the County Flute Band. Always good to listen to at any time.
The Annual Remembrance Sunday at the National Cenotaph in London was a much smaller, though no less poignant, event in 2020.
Very much scaled back Acts of Remembrance took place at War Memorials and Cenotaphs across the UK, at the weekend and today, the 11th November, without crowds and with numbers attending severely restricted within Official Covid guidelines and regulations.
For Apprentice Boys, in Londonderry, Officers of General Committee and a representative of each of the Parent Clubs laid a wreath at the War Memorial in the Diamond on Saturday 7th at 11am. Gordon McMorris, President, representing the Murray Club.
Today, on the 11th November, wreaths were laid in `Greenock at the War Memorial, Wellpark, by Vice President, Bro Robert Lamont, and Past President and SAC Worthy Chairman, Bro Thomas Porteous.
Further south, wreaths were laid at Horwich and in Manchester by Lancashire & Cheshire Murray Club.
Acts of Remembrance honour all those who served, and remember the Fallen in all war and conflicts. Sometimes it is difficult to think of ‘all‘, but the challenge and sacrifice of the many can often be best expressed in an individual story. In comments at the Wishaw Murray Remembrance on Saturday past, the Club President Alan Love, spoke of the experience of one who served:
Today gives us an opportunity to pay tribute to the father of one of our members Bro Charles Kelso. Gunner Kelso served with the 155th Lanarkshire Yeomanry. In March 1941, he sailed from the River Clyde with the 155th bound for India in preparation for a spell in the North African Desert against Rommel’s Afrika Corps. However in August due to the increasingly warlike aggression of the Japanese, they were instead sent to Malaya. When the Japanese invaded the Malayan Peninsula the 155th were thereafter continually in action until the fall of Singapore on 15th February 1942.
After the fall of Singapore the men of the 155th were to suffer dreadfully as Prisoners of War to a cruel and ruthless enemy. Many of the men of the 155th were to suffer and die in the bowels of the deadly Kinkaseki Copper Mine on Taiwan. More men of the Regiment died as POWs than those who fell in action.
Gunner Frank Kelso was a prisoner in the notorious Kinkaseki POW Camp on Taiwan now recognised as being one of the worst in the Far East, where POW were subjected to the most inhumane treatment imaginable, being forced to slave in the deep, dark depths of a copper mine that was extremely hot and dangerous. The food was insufficient which led to many types of disease resulting from lack of food and vitamins. Dysentery, pellagra, beri beri, ulcers, pneumonia, diphtheria and many other ailments took their toll on the men. Add this to the lack of medicines, while those medicines that were available were often withheld by the Japanese, making it extremely difficult for the medics in the camp to keep the men alive.
Many men died in the camp and when others became too sick and weak to work in the mine they were moved out to other camps. Gunner Kelso’s health was so bad in Kinkaseki POW Camp that in 1943 he was moved to Taihoku 6 where he remained until after the war. Of the 500 prisoners in Taihoku 6, 74 died as POW.
Gunner Frank Kelso, an unsung local hero.
Bro Murray Douglas Dunbar laid a wreath on behalf of Wishaw Murray Club.
Murray Clubs were unable to join the 331st Annual Commemorations for the Relief of Derry in 2020. General Committee maintained the traditions in the Maiden City. Branch Clubs held local Commemorations, some with short parades and others with simple Acts of Remembrance at local War Memorials.
In alphabetical order, with longer reports for Clubs in Crimson by clicking on name:
AghadoweyMurray held a short service at the local War Memorial on Saturday 8th at 2pm in a simple Act of Remembrance. President Edward Acheson laid a wreath on behalf of the Club.
Antrim Murray laid a wreath at the town’s War Memorial; President Bro. Phil Laverty assisted by Vice President Bro. William Surgenor. In keeping with the day’s Anniversary the Club made a contribution to the local Steeple Veterans Flute Band to dress as apprentice boys for its short parade.
BootleMurray held a short Service of Remembrance at Bootle Cenotaph at 11am on Saturday 8th. A short service was led by Ian Thompson of Bootle Protestant Free Church. President Keith Taylor laid a wreath, assisted by Bro. William Lorimer.
Thirteen members of Bryansford & District Murray held short Act of Remembrance at the Newcastle War Memorial on Saturday 8th August, led by the Chaplain, Rev George Speers. The wreath was laid by Wreath laid by Vice President, Bro Richard Foster.
Donemana Murrayheld a wreath laying ceremony at the local Orange Hall, and was joined by Mrs Mary Hamilton on the day who presented the Club with gifts in memory of her late husband Ernest who had been a faithful member of the Club for over 50 years.
Greenock Murray held two short services on Saturday 8th August. Wreaths were laid at the Broomhill which is on the Clubs traditional Parade route.
Also at Wellpark Cenotaph, the central one to Greenock, and close to where the Club regularly meets.
Also at Wellpark, the Greenock Murray remembered Bro. Andy Potter who died suddenly in March 2020 at a bench that (due to Covid regulations) has yet to be dedicated.
NewtownstewartMurray laid a wreath at the War Memorial at 2pm, having watched the Red Hand Defenders pass the Memorial.
President, Sam Allison, was joined by David Bradley, bandmaster of the Red Hand Defenders. The band, of which a number are Murray members, paraded the town.
Teemore Murray held a short Act of Remembrance on Saturday morning, laying a wreath at the Tandragee War Memorial. Present were Tres. Mark Cowan, Robert Cowan, V.P James Wallace, President Daniel Haire, Sec. Trevor Cowan, Noel Berry, David Uprichard.
UpperlandsMurray started the day with a short Parade in Maghera. Returning to Upperlands, there was a short Parade before an Act of Remembrance at the recently completed Memorial Garden; President Ivan Gordon and Vice President Hugh Hunter laid a wreath on behalf of Upperlands Murray, joined by Boveegh Flute Band.
A large number of Wishaw Murray members turned out on Sunday, 9th August 2020, at the Armed Forces Memorial Garden in Belhaven Park Wishaw to commemorate the Relief of Derry. The wreath was laid by one of the youngest Members of Wishaw Murray. There was a short service, with a closing prayer and the National Anthem.
Unable to travel to Londonderry for the 331st Anniversary of the Relief of Derry on Saturday 8th August, members of the Wishaw Murray Branch Club turned out on Sunday, 9th August 2020 at the Armed Forces Memorial Garden in Belhaven Park, Wishaw, to commemorate locally.
The park was gifted to the people of Wishaw by Lord Belhaven in memory of his son Lieutenant Colonel The Hon Ralph Gerard Alexander Hamilton, Royal Field Artillery, Master of Belhaven who was killed in action during the 1914 – 1918 war. A memorial headstone in the park details an impressive military history; served with the 7th Division in Flanders in 1914. In August 1915 he took out C Battery 108th Brigade R.F.A. in the 1st 2nd 3rd Battles of Ypres, Loos, the Somme Offensive and Messines. He was killed in action by a shell on Easter Monday, March 31st, 1918 at Castel, near Amiens whilst commanding 106th Brigade R.F.A. defending the ridge where the German advance was finally stayed. Buried in Rouvrel cemetery.
The short service began with a short prayer by acting Chaplain, Bro Murray Douglas Dunbar while President, Alan Love rendered a short history on the siege and the part played by the Ulster Scots followed by a wreath being laid by one of our youngest members Bro Kristofer Weir followed by the closing prayer and the National Anthem.
The President of Wishaw Murray thanked all who had attended and noted that it was particularly pleasing that so many of the younger members had attended this important event and freventlyhoped that next year would be in Londonderry.