Centenary visit to resting place of fallen soldier

The colour party at Sgt Wortley's grave. INCT 24-407-RM
The colour party at Sgt Wortley's grave. INCT 24-407-RM

A Carrickfergus soldier who lost his life during the First World War is to be honoured at his final resting place this autumn.

Sergeant Thomas George Wortley, who was killed at the Battle of Messines on June 7, 1917, was remembered last Saturday with an anniversary parade and memorial service in the town.

Organised by Carrickfergus Friends of the 36th Ulster Division, the parade and service has been an annual fixture in the borough since 2009.

This year, the event took on extra significance with local members of the Somme Association planning a visit to Sgt Wortley’s grave site in Flanders, Belgium in September.

George Watson from Carrickfergus Friends of the 36th explained: “Sgt Thomas Wortley is actually buried in Spanbroekmolen in Belgium but as his family were from Carrickfergus, he is remembered every year at a memorial gravestone in the graveyard at St Nicholas’ Church of Ireland.

“There was a great turnout on Saturday, about 150 people despite the wet weather and we had members of the Somme Association come from as far as Glasgow and Fermanagh.”

A wreath was also laid for the first time at the grave of Carrick-born solider Sapper Hugh McDowell, a fellow casualty of World War One who died from his injuries in Birmingham.

The group of 26 from the Somme Association will travel to Belgium and France in September to mark the First World War centenary at the final resting place of several Northern Irish servicemen.

“We will be visiting the graves of Sgt Wortley and three others who were from Carrick, including Samuel Boyd and Sidney Allcock,” George added.

“Sidney Allcock was a member of [Bennetts Chosen Few] Loyal Orange Lodge 553, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year.

“We would be happy for anyone who has any family connections to these men to get in touch with us before then.”