Somme Art Project

BANGOR Grammar School’s heavy losses during the Great War became the subject of a special commemorative booklet published by Bangor Grammarians in 2014 and distributed free of charge to all Grammarians, as well as pupils of the School.

At the start of July, following a series of events marking the fallen in both World Wars, a party of 25 pupils from Bangor Grammar School will participate in the official ceremonies in France to mark the hundredth anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.

They are the only representatives from Northern Ireland in a group of 600 school pupils from throughout the United Kingdom and France. As part of the co-operation with a partner school in Amiens, an artwork was prepared by some of the BGS students. The completed piece was forwarded to Paris as part of the ongoing Living Memory Project, organised by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in conjunction with the British Council.

The artwork is entitled ‘The Landscape of Liberty’ that encompassed the change in the landscape surrounding the Battle of the Somme. It is a multi-layered piece with portraits of former BGS pupils who were killed at the Somme superimposed on images of Helen’s Tower and the Ulster Tower in Thiepval.

All of this overlays rubbings of the names of fallen victims, prepared by pupils from the partner School in France. The names include some of the former pupils of BGS who died in the Battle and have no known grave.

The significance of the landmark of Helen’s Tower in the memory of young men who left the district following their training at Clandeboye, to head off for battle, was to later be reflected in the memorial to the losses. In 1922, in the aftermath of the Battle, the Ulster Tower was erected in France to remember the men who fought for freedom and is a replica of Helen’s Tower.