Orange Heritage museum examines role of order at the Somme

The 'Lily and the Poppy' exhibition at the Museum of Orange Heritage in east Belfast. Picture By Hugh Russell

AN exhibition of artefacts and memorabilia belonging to Orangemen who fought in the Battle of the Somme has opened in Belfast.

Lodge minute books that account for members serving or who lost their lives are also on show as well as rifles, flare shells and an assortment of cartridges found near Thiepval Wood.

Among the items on display at the 'Lily and the Poppy' exhibition are an engraved pocket-watch belonging to one soldier Hugh Tanner, presented to him by an Orange lodge and carried with him when he fought with the 109th Brigade at the Somme. He went on to manage Distillery FC and was manager/coach of the Northern Ireland football team in the 1920s.

It is estimated that around 200,000 Orangemen from across the world served during the First World War, with thousands seeing action at the Somme.

The exhibition, which runs until December at the Museum of Orange Heritage in east Belfast marks the centenary of the major First World War battle, chronicling the contribution of thousands of Orangemen on the front-line.

Edward Stevenson of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland said the exhibition was "an educational asset regarding the Great War and the Orange contribution to it."

Orange Museum curator Dr Jonathan Mattison, said: "It is important in this centenary year that we as an organisation not only pay tribute to all those who fought at the Somme, but particularly highlight the prominent role of Orangemen on the battlefield."

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