Last year's Remembrance Ceremonies, not only in the U.K. but further afield as well, had a special poignancy. Armistice Day, 1998, commemorated the 80th anniversary of the ending of the "war to end all wars". For probably the last time, the shrinking band of survivors of that conflict visited Ypres, with its massive Menin Gate, every face of which is inscribed with the names of those who died in that area alone between 1914 and 1918.
Not far from there, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 2nd and President McAleese stood side by side at the dedication of the Island of Ireland Peace Park - a public recognition, for the first time, of the sacrifices made by Southern Irish soldiers serving in the British Army on the Western Front. And it was in Ypres that I stood for the first time in a War Cemetery . I must confess that the sight of those serried ranks of white gravestones brought a lump to my throat. Looking more closely at the graves, I was struck by the number that were nameless, bearing only the chillingly simple legend "A Soldier of the Great War" - truly graves of unknown soldiers. Among the memorials that bore names there was a striking prevalence of names familiar in this part of the world, bearing eloquent testimony to those many gallant sons of Ulster who left these shores in 1915, never to return.
These men, along with many more who have died in subsequent conflicts, are also commemorated on War Memorials and in Gardens of Remembrance throughout this Province . One of the more unusual of these memorials is that in Lurgan College.
Prior to 1918, Lurgan College was a boys' school. Numbers had never been particularly large, peaking at about 70 in the 1880's. In the years 1899-1910, the number of pupils averaged between 40 and 50. The Headmaster at this time, James Cowan, found himself facing serious problems in the school, and it did, at one point, seem that it might have to close. However, Cowan soldiered on through the war years, often with barely 30 pupils in the school. He was an ardent Imperialist, and his quarterly reports to Governors recorded faithfully the contribution made by former pupils to the war effort, and in particular the sad litany of young lives lost.
When the war ended, Cowan had an illuminated Roll of Honour made, which was displayed in the main School Room. It contained the names of all the former pupils of the school who had died during World War 1. Cowan's successor, V.M.Harper, served as Headmaster from 1922 - 52, and therefore saw the school through the 2nd War, again reporting regularly to Governors the deaths of "his" boys. When Harper retired, he was succeeded by James Trewsdale. Mr Trewsdale, along with the Old Pupils' Association, came up with a plan to provide a permanent memorial, covering both the 1914-18 and 1939-45 conflicts. In 1955, the new memorial was dedicated ( on November 11th) by one of Cowan's pupils, Rev Dr A.L.Agnew.
The Memorial is situated in the entrance hall, beneath the bell tower, and consists of two stained glass windows, along with two brass plaques, containing the names of the dead. Under Mr Trewsdale, it was the custom for a wreath to be laid at the memorial each Remembrance Day. His successors, Messrs Eccles and Johnston, have continued the custom, but now as part of an extended Remembrance Service, at which the names of those who died are read, sadly now supplemented by the names of victims of the "Troubles". While this is being done, the Head Boy and Head Girl lay the wreath at the memorial.
Although I have often listened to the reading of the names at the Remembrance Service, and have looked at the two memorial plaques, I confess to knowing very little about the people involved. In 1998, however, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (C.W.G.C.) placed all its records in the public domain on the Internet, and I have taken advantage of this facility to investigate something of the background of those named on the school memorial. For the most part, this research was relatively easy, but there were some instances where a combination of inadequate or incomplete school records and incomplete war records has made the task virtually impossible. For instance, the school memorial contains the name H. Robb. None of the "H. Robbs" in the C.W.G.C records can be linked with the Lurgan area, and the School Register, which was commenced in 1899, records no-one of that name. However, we do know that there were Robbs at the school before the official register was commenced. Two boys, sons of Seth Robb of Garvaghy Road, Portadown, were pupils during the 1890's. There is clearly the possibility that there may have been an additional initial (something that occurred with some of the other records). Unfortunately we have no initials at all for the two Robb boys and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records show over 300 Robbs as casualties in World War 1.
The problem is compounded by the format of the CWGC records. Most contain family details of the deceased, including parents' names and home town but, frustratingly, some do not, and this is certainly the case with some of the Robbs! Problems of this sort have meant that, at the end of the day, I have been unable to identify accurately 3 of the 23 names listed on the school memorial for World War 1: C.M.Anderson, H. Johnston and H. Robb.
When we come to World War 2, it is, I think, possible to find information about all the names on the memorial, although there is one question mark, arising from a possible error in the School register. The War Memorial contains the name A.W.B. Green - which name indeed appears in the School Register for a short period from September 1927 - February 1929. In 1929, A.W.B. Green left to go to Campbell College. However, I can find no record of the name in the casualty lists for World War 2, although there is an A.W.V Green, son of Alexander Green ( as in the School register).
I have since been able to look at the Campbell College records, and discovered that their A.W.V. Green shares the same birthday as our A.W.B. Green! The parents are shown, in the Campbell College School Register, as living at Windsor Avenue, Belfast, which would explain a move to Campbell College. In light of these points I have concluded that A.W.B Green and A.W.V. Green are one and the same person.
It may be of interest to indicate the sort of information contained in the C.W.G.C. database. The Internet site (address http://www.cwgc.org) allows the interrogation of the main database by means of a search facility. The user is asked to enter a name, along with initials, if known. The search can be further refined by identifying the force (army, navy etc.), the Year of Death, or failing that, the war ( 1st or 2nd World War), and the Nationality of the force.
The system then produces a list of all those meeting the search criteria. Clearly, the more specific the criteria, the shorter the list and the easier it is to identify the correct one. Selecting a name from the list produced by the computer will bring up a screen containing (usually!) the following details:
DATE OF DEATH
ADDITIONAL INFO e.g. family, service details
COMMEMORATIVE DETAILS e.g. location of grave, or monument, along with directions on how to get there.
HISTORICAL INFO e.g. the battles etc. leading to the casualties buried in that particular cemetery.
Victor Acheson was the son of David and Sarah Acheson of Castlecaulfield, Co. Tyrone. He was born in 1888, and came to Lurgan College in August 1899, leaving on October 31st, 1900. Enlisting on 26th August, 1914, he was attached to the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, becoming a Captain in the 6th Battalion. His army service was all in the Middle East. He took part in the Dardanelles Campaign, landing at Suvla Bay on August 7th, 1915. He died during the Salonika Campaign, on 10th September, 1916 and is buried in Struma Military Cemetery, Greece.
Aurial Charles Andrew Adams was born in 1892, son of Lieut.Col. C Adams of Tullylish House, Gilford. He attended Lurgan College for a short period, from May 1903 - October 1903. There is no record of when he joined the army, but in 1916 he was a Second Lieutenant in the 16th Battalion, King's Own Royal Lancashire Regiment. He died during the Battle of the Somme, on 16th August, 1916, and is buried in Guillemont Road Cemetery, Guillemont, Somme, France.
James Howard Calvert was born on 4th May, 1895, son of James Calvert, Avenue Road, Lurgan. He attended Lurgan College from August 1909 until October 1913, leaving with an entrance scholarship to Q.U.B., worth £40, to study Mathematics, Science and English. Again, there is no record of when he joined the army, but in 1916 he was a Second Lieutenant in the 6th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles. The C.W.G.C. record simply states that he died on Monday 24th April, 1916. I had assumed that this was another "Western Front" death, but a little note in the School Register records that he was "Killed by rebels in Dublin, 1916." This explains the site of the grave - Seagoe Cemetery, Portadown.
Norman Cargin is one of the more difficult cases to research. The C.W.G.C. records that he died on 1st May, 1916, and that he was the son of Mrs Emma Cargin, 65, Market Street, Lurgan. However, I can find absolutely no record of him in the School Register. We do know that two of his brothers attended the College in the 1890's, and that Cowan referred to Norman Cargin as an Old Boy, who had died in the War. I do not know what to make of this, except to suggest an error in the Register, which, as I have already suggested, was a not unusual thing, particularly in the early days. Norman Cargin was born in 1895, and was a Second Lieutenant in the 10th Battalion, North Staffordshire Regiment. He is buried in Basra War Cemetery.
Thomas Edward Chapman Crosbie was born on 30th May, 1897 and was the son of Francis E. Crosbie, of Mahon House, Portadown. The School Register records that he entered Lurgan College in January, 1912, but there is no record of when he left and he may, indeed, have joined the army straight from school. By 1918 he was a Captain in the 9th Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers and had already, barely 21years old, been awarded the Military Cross and Bar. He died on Monday, 15th April, 1918, but his remains have never been found. He is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, sited in Tyne Cot Cemetery, Zonnebeke, West Flanders, Belgium.
Thomas Fletcher Espie was born on 2nd June, 1895, son of J.G.Espie, Cavanagh Terrace, Portadown. He was a pupil at Lurgan College from August 1908 until August 1910. Espie is one of those who are, perhaps, the forgotten victims of the war - those who were injured and who died of their injuries some time later. He was a Second Lieutenant in the 5th Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers, and died on Thursday, 6th February, 1919. He is buried in Seagoe Cemetery, Portadown.
James Totton Gardiner was another Portadown man, born there on 2nd April, 1899, the son of Thomas and Hannah Gardiner of Annagh House. He is recorded as entering Lurgan College in August, 1912 and again there is the suggestion that he may have entered the army straight from school. He became a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Irish Rifles and died on 1st November, 1918. He is buried in Schoonselhof Cemetery, Antwerp, Belgium.
A number of former pupils served with Commonwealth regiments and William Robert Gilmore was one such His parents, William and Lucy Gilmore, lived at 12, Church Place and William Robert had been born there in 1886. He was a pupil at Lurgan College in 1898-9. No records exist of his career from that date until we next hear of him as a Lance Corporal in the 87th Battalion, Canadian Infantry (Quebec Regiment). He died on 21st October, 1916, but his remains were never recovered. He is commemorated on the memorial at Vimy, Pas de Calais, France. It is probably worth noting that a commission in a Canadian regiment did not mean that there was any other connection with Canada. I had originally assumed that there was a possibility that people like William Gilmore had emigrated, but it is, apparently, much more likely that he was simply attached to a Canadian Regiment as a matter of convenience.
Harold Green was one of a family of boys from Kinnego who all attended Lurgan College in the last years of the 19th century and the early years of the 20th. . His parents were William John and Susan Green and he was born in July, 1892, attending Lurgan College from February 1901 until August 1904. He was a Second Lieutenant in the 1st Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers when he died, on the Western Front on 28th February, 1917. Once again, there is no known grave, but he is commemorated on the memorial at Thiepval, Somme, France (pictured right).
Also often overlooked, particularly in World War 1, are the prisoners of war, of which I presume William Ernest Hall was one. He was born in Portadown on 26th August, 1896, son of Mr & Mrs T.J. Hall, of Windsor Terrace. The School Register records his arrival in Lurgan College in August, 1911 but there is no record of when he left. Again, the details of his army service are sketchy, but we know that he was a Private in 7th Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment. His death is recorded as being on 28th October, 1918, but it is the place of burial that provides the vital clue - Berlin South Western Cemetery, Brandenburg. The Historical Information provided by C.W.G.C. suggests that most of those buried in this location died in P.O.W. camps in North Eastern Germany, and we can therefore assume the W.E.Hall was a Prisoner of War when he died.
Charles Moore Johnston was a Captain in 'C' Company, 9th Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers. He was born in Portadown , in 1886, son of Charles Johnston D.L, and Marion Johnston. He attended Lurgan College from September 1897 until October 1900, leaving to complete his education at Campbell College. From Campbell, he proceeded to the Royal School of Mines. Johnston was of Carson's volunteers, for, although details of his Army service are vague, we know that he was an officer in the U V F before joining the regular army. He died in 1st July, 1916, on the first day of the Somme offensive. His grave is in Mesnil Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme, France.
James Edwin Johnston was born in Lurgan on April 18th, 1888, son of Mr D. Johnston, Grace Hall, Lurgan. He was a pupil at Lurgan College from September 1901 until August 1905. In 1916, he was a 2nd Lieutenant in the 4th Battalion, attached to 10th Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment, and died on 10th July, 1916, again during the early days of the Somme campaign. There is no known grave, but he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France.
Roger Marshall Livingstone was born in Lurgan on 12th August, 1894, son of George Livingstone, of Sunnyside House, Silverwood. He is recorded as attending Lurgan College from August 1905 until August 1907. Again we have no information about his subsequent career, but we next find him serving with the 44th Battalion, Canadian Infantry ( New Brunswick Regiment). He died, on 27th October, 1916, towards the end of the Somme campaign. His grave is located in Contay British Cemetery, Contay, Somme. Again, there is no direct evidence of him ever having lived in Canada, but I wonder if his rank ( Private) might suggest that he had actually gone to live there.
William Montgomery Livingston was the son of Mr R.H. Livingston, 76, Hill Street, Lurgan. He was born on 31st October, 1888, and attended Lurgan College from August 1900 until August 1905. After school he entered the Linen trade and is recorded as having won a Drapers' exhibition, worth £80 for 2 years, in 1911. In the war he served with the Royal Irish Fusiliers, and he was a Lieutenant in the 6th Battalion of that regiment when he died, on 15th April, 1917. His grave is in Aubigny Communal Cemetery extension, Pas de Calais, France.
Thomas George Mahony was son of the local District Inspector of the R.I.C., Owen Mahony, and was born on 26th March, 1895. He was a pupil at Lurgan College from October 1906 until October 1910. He enlisted in the 19th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers and was a Second Lieutenant in that regiment in 1916. He died in those desperate first days of the Somme campaign, on 13th July, 1916. His mortal remains have never been identified, but he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme.
It is sometimes forgotten that the Great War was indeed a World War, and Harry Bury Popplewell would remind of this. I suspect that he came to Lurgan College because of family contacts with Mr Cowan while he was Classical Master at Manchester Grammar School, because home was Marple, Cheshire. He was born on 28th July, 1884 and was a boarder at Lurgan College from August 1899 until May, 1903. He had an impressive academic career, gaining an Honours Degree in Classics from Oxford, before entering government service in East Africa. During World War 1 he enlisted in the Royal Irish Rifles, and was a Captain in the 3rd Battalion, attached to 3rd King's African Rifles. He died on 22nd July, 1918 and is buried in the Lumba British Cemetery, Mozambique.
As I suggested, there is some difficulty in identifying the H Robb on the memorial. It seems probable that it may have been Lieutenant Hamilton Robb, son of Hamilton Robb of Portadown. It is possible that he trained at Dartmouth College, before entering the navy. He died as a result of a boating accident in Cork Harbour on November 1st, 1914.
Sidford Ruddell was one of five sons of Nelson and Hannah Ruddell, of Aughacommon, who attended Lurgan College in the 1880's and 1890's. He was born in 1877 and attended Lurgan College from 1891-1895. Again the paucity of records in the school mean that we have no information about his career after leaving school. However, buy 1916 he is listed as being a Corporal in 'C' Company, 78th Battalion, Canadian Infantry (Manitoba Regiment) He died on December 4th, 1916 and is buried in Etaples Military Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France.
Ivan Philip Watson was the youngest son of Mr Hugh Watson, DL, of Beech Park, Lurgan. He was born on 25th March,1896 and attended Lurgan College from August 1906 until June 1909. Even today, the Watson connection is evident in Lurgan College. An older brother, Sir Hugh Watson, donated hunting trophies, in the shape of Burmese Water Buffalo skulls, to the school, where they are still displayed in the Library. I.P. Watson enlisted in the Royal Irish Rifles, becoming a Second Lieutenant in the 12th Battalion of that regiment. He died on 28th March, 1918, and is buried in St Sever Cemetery, Rouen, France.
William Whalley was born in Waringstown in 1874, son of James and Susan Whalley. He attended Lurgan College in the late 1880's and had left by 1891. Another victim of the Somme campaign, he died on 5th September, 1916. At the time of his death he was a Corporal in 'B' Company, 7th Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers. There is no known grave, but he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France.
James Wallis White was the son of William and Anna White, who lived in William Street, Lurgan and it was here that J.W. White was born on March 4th, 1892. He attended Lurgan College from May 1905 - August 1908 . During the war he served as a Sapper in 3rd Battalion, Canadian Engineers. Wounded on active service in France, he was transferred to a hospital near Exeter, in Devon, where he died of his wounds on October 15th, 1918. He is buried in Exeter Higher Cemetery, Devon.
Although the War memorial shows the name W A M Bebe, this is an unfortunate error. It was his younger Brother, Robert Charles Bebe, who died during World War 2. Robert Charles was the son of Mr & Mrs A.E.Bebe of Mullavilly, Tandragee. He was born on 12th May, 1926 and attended Lurgan College from September, 1941 until August ,1942. It seems likely that he 'joined up' straight from school. Indeed I understand that he may have given the wrong date of birth in order to be able to join up! His service was with 99 Squadron, R.A.F. Volunteer Reserve, in which he was a Sergeant. This squadron saw service in the Far East, where Sgt Bebe died, on 23rd April, 1945. There is no known grave, but he is commemorated on the R.A.F. Memorial at Singapore.
William Frederick Dixon Charlton was born in Lurgan, 20th October, 1919, son of Mr & Mrs C.J. Charlton , of Gilford Road. He attended Lurgan College from September 1932 until December, 1936. On leaving school he joined the Belfast Bank and was working in the Londonderry branch of that bank when war broke out. He joined up in January or February, 1940, eventually going to the R.A.F.College, Cranwell, from which he graduated as a Pilot Officer. Pilot Officer Charlton was lost during the 1000 bomber raid on Essen on 1st June, 1942, having already completed a large number of successful missions. He is buried in Harderwijk General Cemetery, Netherlands.
Frederick Foster was born in Lurgan on 1st February, 1916. His parents, Mr & Mrs A Foster, lived in Market Street. He entered Lurgan College on 1st September, 1925, probably one of the group transferring from Lurgan High School on its amalgamation with the College. There is no indication in the School register of when he left, nor is there any indication of employment after school. He joined the R.A.F. when war broke out, and served with 107 Squadron, R.A.F. Volunteer Reserve, in which he was Sergeant. His death is listed on 21st December, 1942, but the circumstances are not given. Sgt. Foster is buried in Lurgan New Cemetery.
Norman Gracey was the son of Joseph and Sarah Jane Gracey, 25 Market Street. He was born on 6th January, 1916 and attended Lurgan College from 16th September 1930 until 30th July, 1934. At school he was a keen sportsman, playing in the 1st XV team that competed in the Schools' Cup Final in 1934. After leaving school he studied Mechanical Engineering at Queen's University, Belfast and following graduation he joined Harland and Woolf's . He joined the navy at the outbreak of war, serving on destroyers in the Atlantic and Mediterranean. By 1942 he was serving as a Lieutenant on H.M.S Nile, based in the Eastern Mediterranean. He was eventually given a shore job as Naval Officer Commanding, Beirut. He died on December 15th, 1942 as a result of an accident involving his car and a Free French ambulance and is buried in Beirut War Cemetery, Lebanon.
This is the record that I have already dealt with in my introduction . Alexander Green was born on 14th February, 1919 and was the son of Alexander Green, Rathmore, Lurgan. He was a pupil at Lurgan College from 1st September, 1927 until February, 1929, leaving, as already indicated, to go to Campbell College. Joining the R.A.F., he was a Pilot Officer in 235 Squadron, based in Southern England. He died during the Battle of Britain, on 11th September, 1940. There is no known grave, but P.O. Green is commemorated on the R.A.F. Memorial at Runnymede.
Samuel Tweedy Hewitt was born in Lurgan on 18th March, 1919, son of Samuel Hewitt of Portadown Road. He was a pupil at Lurgan College from 1st September, 1931 until 30th July, 1937. More recent former pupils will have been aware of one of his contributions to the school - the attractive mural of school life that used to adorn the wall of the History Room. His war service was with 103 Squadron, R.A.F. Volunteer reserve, in which he was a Flying Officer. This squadron saw service over Occupied Europe and it was in the course of one such mission that he died, on 17th December, 1942. He is buried in Aabenraa Cemetery, Denmark.
William James Hill was born in Lurgan on 29th January, 1922, son of William Hill of High Street. He was a pupil at Lurgan College from September 1934 until July, 1937. There is no record of what he did on leaving school, but during the war he served with 156 Squadron R.A.F. Volunteer Reserve eventually becoming a Sergeant. His squadron was one of those involved in raids over Germany in the last years of the war, and he died during one of these, on March 2nd, 1944. He is buried in the War Cemetery at Durnbach , Germany.
Holman Gordon Stanley Kerr was the son of T.J. and E.M.Kerr, of Market Street, Lurgan, and he was born on 8th January, 1922. He was a pupil at Lurgan College from 3rd September, 1934 until 31st July, 1940. I suspect that he may have joined the forces straight from school. By 1945 he was a Flying Officer in 514 Squadron, R.A.F. Volunteer Reserve. This squadron was involved in air support for the advancing allied armies during the last months of the war, and it was in the course of such action that F.O.Kerr died, on 5th March, 1945. He is buried in Heverlee War Cemetery, Leuven, Belgium.
Ian Robert McCready was the son of Thomas and Annie McCready, of Moyallen. He was born there on 21st February, 1911 and was a pupil at Lurgan College from 4th September, 1923 until 30th April, 1924, at that point transferring to Lurgan High School. When the High School amalgamated with the College in September, 1925, he left school and may well have joined the Navy almost immediately. At the outbreak of war he was serving as a stoker on board H.M.Trawler Lady Shirley, part of the Royal Navy Patrol Service. Stoker McCready was lost at sea on 11th December, 1941, and is commemorated on the Lowestoft Naval Memorial.
James Howard Menary was born in Lurgan, on 21st November 1915, son of James Menary of Market Street. He attended Lurgan College from 1st September, 1924 until 31st August, 1934. At school he was a keen sportsman and he was Captain of the 1stXV in the 1933/4 season when the team reached the final of the Schools' Cup. Leaving school, he entered the family business ( Menary Bros), and in 1939 joined the R.A.F. , serving as a Flying Officer. He was stationed in the Mediterranean. During the siege of Malta an attempt was made to strengthen the air defences by sending in more fighter aircraft. An aircraft carrier was despatched from Gibraltar, carrying fighter aircraft part of the way to Malta, but keeping outside the range of German fighters. The British fighters would then try to fly into Malta from the carrier. It was during this operation that Flying Officer Menary died. He is commemorated on the Malta Memorial.
Robert Wilkinson Turkington is probably the most distinguished of those on the World War 2 memorial. He was the son of John Turkington, of Crossways, Derrytrasna, and he was born there on 13th June, 1920. He attended Lurgan College from 1st September 1933 until 30th August 1939. Once again, I suspect that he joined the R.A.F. almost straight from school. He became a highly successful pilot, and had the distinction of being awarded the D.F.C. and Bar before his death. He was promoted to the rank of Squadron Leader, with 241 Squadron, based in Italy following the defeat of the Germans. Squadron Leader Turkington died on 29th July, 1945, when his aircraft exploded during a manoeuvre. He is buried in Padua War Cemetery. He was awarded the D.S.O. posthumously
Charles Alexander Whiteside was born on 14th March,1919, son of Rev J.Whiteside of Derrytagh. He was a pupil at Lurgan College from 1st September, 1931 until 3ist August, 1934, when he left to complete his education at Portadown College. During the war he served in 113 Squadron, R.A.F. Volunteer reserve, in which he was a Flight Sergeant. This squadron saw service in India and Burma and it was there that Flt. Sgt. Whiteside died, on 18th August 1942. He is buried at Ranchi War Cemetery, India.
William Lewis Johnston Young was born at Blacksessiagh Mill near Fintona on 13th July, 1918. His father was Mr J.G.Young. Lewis attended Lurgan College from 3rd September, 1934 until 31st July 1937, and while at the College he lived at the Manse, Waringstown where his step-father, Rev W Lyons Cochrane was minister. Flt.Sgt. Lewis Young's war service was with 106 Squadron, R.A.F. Volunteer Reserve, which squadron saw service over the North Sea and occupied Scandinavia. It was in the course of such service that Flt.Sgt. Young died, on 2nd May, 1942, when the Manchester bomber he was piloting, L7399, crashed in Denmark on what is now a military airfield. The Danish air force has erected a memorial Til Minde om dem der Faldt for Europas Frihed (in remembrance of those who fell for Europe's Freedom) on the exact spot. You can see a photograph of the memorial by clicking here. The squadron leader of 106 Squadron at that time was Wing Commander Guy Gibson. Young is buried in Aabenraa Cemetery, Denmark.
As I have looked at these records I have found myself paraphrasing well known words - there is a corner of some foreign field that is for ever Lurgan College. It is amazing that, in a quiet corner of rural Denmark there lie, close together, the remains of two young men who, just five years before they died, had been classmates in Lurgan.
It is also easy to understand the emotions of people like James Cowan as they saw the ability and gift that had been so carefully nurtured in young lives extinguished so cruelly by the horrors of war. However, there are some important historical lessons to be learnt from the memorials. Firstly, the change in warfare that occurred in no more than 20 years is clearly illustrated. All 23 of the names on the World War 1 list served with Infantry Regiments, or were involved in land warfare. Of the 13 names on the World War 2 list, 11 served with the Air Force and 2 with the Navy.
Secondly, the impact of the great land offensives of World War 1 can be clearly traced, particularly the Somme Campaign. At least six of the World War 1 list died during the Battle of the Somme (this is based on the location of grave, or commemorative monument) and 15 of the 23 died on the Western Front, or as the result of wounds received there.
Casualties during World War 2 are much more scattered, reflecting, again, the differing nature of the two conflicts. On a more parochial level, the changes that occurred in Lurgan College are also clearly seen. A significant number of those who are commemorated on the World War 1 Memorial were from outside Lurgan - indeed only 9 of the 23 are listed on the Town Memorial. On the World War 2 memorial the proportion is 9 out of 13, and the remaining 4 were all from the surrounding areas.
The real impact of the study, however, was to bring home to me that these are more than just names with which we are dealing. Here we have real people, from real families, with real ambitions; people who walked the same corridors, who sat in the same rooms, whose initials can be found carved in the brickwork round the school; people who gave their yesterdays so that we might have our todays.
So, in future years, for me and I hope for others as well, those words "We will remember them" will have an added meaning.