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Christmas card from the WWI trenches

The front of the card which was sent in 1915. INCT 33-118-GR

The front of the card which was sent in 1915. INCT 33-118-GR

A Carrickfergus resident has shared a fascinating insight to the thoughts of the men in the trenches as World War One raged.

David Fullerton’s father Samuel served with the Royal Irish Rifles in the Great War and the recent focus on the centenary of the outbreak of that conflict turned his thoughts to a treasured family possession, a Christmas card from the front.

The delicate memento dating from 1915 has flags and the letters RIR embroidered on linen on the front.

David (pictured), who is originally from Larne, explained: “There’s a little card inside, it says ‘souvenir des glorieuses memoires’, which is obviously French. So, the card must be French.”

On the rear of the card is a handwritten festive greeting from a son, serving in France, to a father wishing him “a merry Christmas 1915 and a bright and happy New Year”.

David recalled of his father: “He joined Inver factory when finished school, Larne Tech. He enlisted at the start of the war.”

He added that Samuel Fullerton never talked much about his WW1 experiences except for a few light-hearted anecdotes.

With the RIR comprising many men from Larne, Ballyclare and Carrick, David continued, one colleague of his father quipped on a particularly wet night in the trenches: “I’m sorry for the men standing at the head of Main Street a night like that.”

The reference was to a popular meeting point for men in the neighbouring town at that time. It is a familiar location for the Fullerton family as Samuel’s father, also David, had a book and confectionery shop where Cross Street meets Main Street.

A further retail link was the Gettinby shop with its double doors, also on Main Street. Kate Gettinby (nee Fullerton) was a sister of David’s grandfather.

A family with strong links to St Cedma’s Church in Larne, David’s great-grandfather, grandfather and father were all church wardens.

When Samuel came back at the end of war in 1918 he returned to employment at Inver Factory and went on to become managing director. But he also maintained his links with former colleagues from those service years.

“He was chairman of Larne British Legions for years. He worked very hard to get ex-servicemen jobs,” David told the Times.

His father was also invited to attend the armistice commemoration in London and was presented with the Royal British Legion’s gold medal.

 

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