Council to remember Hitler Line ‘sacrifice’

(file photo) The Lord Lieutenant for County Antrim, Joan Christie OBE and the Mayor of Carrickfergus, Alderman Billy Ashe, were among those assembled in the castle for a service marking the contribution of the North Irish Horse Regiment to the battle of the Hitler Line. INCT 23-793-CON
(file photo) The Lord Lieutenant for County Antrim, Joan Christie OBE and the Mayor of Carrickfergus, Alderman Billy Ashe, were among those assembled in the castle for a service marking the contribution of the North Irish Horse Regiment to the battle of the Hitler Line. INCT 23-793-CON

One of the hardest-fought battles in the history of a local regiment is to be formally recognised by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.

The local government authority is to support the annual commemoration of the Battle of Adolf Hitler Line on behalf of the North Irish Horse Regimental Association.

The commemorations will take place in Carrickfergus on May 21, remembering the 36 members of what is now B (North Irish Horse) Squadron of The Scottish and North Irish Yeomanry who died in action during the battle on May 23, 1944.

Around 120 soldiers from the North Irish will parade with a military band from Carrick Town Hall.

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Billy Ashe said: “Having recently honoured B (North Irish Horse) Squadron by the granting of the first ever Freedom of the Borough, it is all the more fitting that we recall how the unit’s Churchill tanks were integral to the success of Operation Chesterfield by breaching the Adolf Hitler Line during the closing months of World War II.

“The Adolf Hitler Line was the objective of this operation, an assault by the 1st Canadian Division supported by tanks of the North Irish Horse and the 51st Royal Tank Regiment.

“To this day the regiment wear the Maple Leaf, the national emblem of Canada, which was awarded as a battle honour by the Canadian government as a result of this action following the heavy losses.”

The event will include the laying of wreaths at the war memorial, the inspection of troops, a parade to St Nicholas’ Church for a special service of commemoration, and a return parade to the Town Hall. A salute will be taken by Lord Lieutenant for Country Antrim, Joan Christie OBE.

The Canadian Defence attaché is expected to travel from London to witness the event, which will be hosted by the mayor along with the president of the North Irish Horse Regimental Association, Colonel Danny Kinahan MP.

Colonel Kinahan is MP for South Antrim and a former Captain in the Blues and Royals Regiment, later a squadron leader in the North Irish Horse and now their Squadron Honorary Colonel.

He said: “It is vital we never forget the bravery and heroism of those who fought in such battles as the Adolf Hitler Line and remember all that they went through so that we could be free to make our own life choices today.”

Cllr Ashe added: “We are honoured to commemorate the sacrifice of so many with this annual event and look forward to welcoming the Lord Lieutenant, Canadian attaché and the officers and men alike to this important commemoration.”