The UVF mural in Carrington Street has been paint-bombed. Given the location and the extent of the paint, it’s likely that this was the result of some local (PUL) grievance. It will be interesting to see if it is restored, or replaced or painted out.
“I am not an Ulsterman but yesterday, the First of July, as I followed their amazing attack, I felt that I would rather be an Ulsterman than anything else in the world. – Wilfred [Wilfrid] Spender – The Somme 1916”. Spender was born in England but served as quartermaster of the Ulster Volunteers and general staff officer of the 36th (Ulster) Division. He won the Military Cross for actions at Thiepval, and became Cabinet Secretary of the new “Northern Ireland” in 1921 (WP). His words are on one of three new murals in Belvoir Park, alongside two large flags – the Union Flag and Ulster Banner. Above the WWI mural old RHC lettering is causing the paint to fall away.
William McFadzean won a VC for sacrificing himself on the morning before the Battle Of The Somme (in WWI) and is commemorated in several murals. He shares a plaque here with “Vol W Miller”, who is perhaps the (modern UVF) volunteer Billy Miller from Donegall Pass who was killed in an RUC ambush in 1983 (Long Kesh I/O). The two names on the newer plaque are unknown on-line, perhaps having survived the Troubles and recently deceased.
The title of today’s post comes from the Laurence Binyon poem For The Fallen.
The “cowards” in this case are the members of the UDA who killed Rockett in front of his girlfriend and 18 month old child in an attack on her house in the lower Oldpark, during the feud between the UVF and UDA, sparked by Johnny Adair’s “loyalist day of culture” and removal of the UVF from the lower Shankill. In response to the purge (and attacks on the Rex bar), the UVF killed Bobby Mahood and Mr Jackie Coulter. Rockett was killed by the UDA in retaliation for their deaths; 1,000 people attended Rockett’s funeral (Irish Times). After Rockett died, the UVF killed David Greer, and the UDA then killed PUP member Bertie Rice in Tiger’s Bay on October 31st.
“In proud and loving memory of Vol. Samuel Rockett, ‘B’ Coy. 1st Belfast battalion, Young Citizens Volunteers. Murdered by cowards 23rd August 2000. “At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember him.””
“[Politics is almost as exciting as war, and quite as dangerous.] In war you can only be killed once. In politics, many times. [ – Winston Churchill, 1903] Our British identity is non-negotiable! UVF East Belfast Battalion.” Hooded UVF volunteers are shown in active poses (as compared to the cradled rifles in The Erosion Of Our Identity) ready to resist any compromise in the still-unresolved tension between Brexit and the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement of 1998.
“Present peace now stills our hand/Death no longer stalks our land/Our guns are silent and shall remain/But when needed we shall rise again.” The boards that made up the Thiepval Street mural have fallen down and the mural that now replaces it is once again dedicated to the UVF 1st (= West) Belfast battalion, A company, 5th platoon. (The side walls and stone remain as before.)
Camera Settings: f3.7/100 ISO 80, full size 4668 x 3264
X06891 X06889 [X06890] [X06892] [X06893] northland st this stone is dedicated to the memory of the fallen volunteers of no. 5 platoon, a company 1st belfast battalion, ulster volunteer force, as poppy petals gently fall remember us who gave our all not in the mud of foreign lands nor buried in the desert sands, in ulster field and farm and town fermanagh’s lanes and drumlin’d down we died that violent death should cease and ulstermen might live in peace lest we forget in memory of our fallen comrades
RHC volunteer Stevie McCrea (born 31.5.52, killed 18.2.89) was imprisoned for his role in the killing of 17 year-old Catholic James Kerr in a Lisburn Road garage, on the same day as the RHC bombed Benny’s Bar in Sailortown. He was killed in an IPLO attack on the Orange Cross (the Shankill Social Club). This Village mural is the second tribute to McCrea this year – see also A True Soldier Of Ulster in the lower Shankill, near the former location of the Orange Cross in Craven Street.
“Stevie was raised in The Village Area of South Belfast. He was just a young man when The Troubles started but without hesitation answered the call by joi[ni]ng the Village RHC. He soon started making a name for himself by putting himself on the front line with his brothers in arms in the RHC. These men where [sic] one of the most active units in Ulster by taking the fight the republicans. In 1972 at the height of The Troubles Stevie was sentenced to life for his part in a retaliation shooting and was imprisoned in Long Kesh. After serving 15 years with dignity and courage he was released. On the 16th February 1989 just after receiving his last pay cheque [from a transitional work scheme] he decided to join a few friends in The Orange Cross Club in the Shankill area. This would be his last drink as republican scum decided to target the Loyalist club. Stevie sacrificed himself to protect his friend by throwing himself in front of a hail of bullets. Stevie died 2 days later from his injuries in the Royal Victoria Hospital.”
Ten years after ending its armed campaign, the Red Hand Commando in 2017 applied to be de-proscribed, on the basis that it had given up its arms in 2009 and transformed itself into an ‘old comrades association’ (see the emblem in the bottom left of the wide shot) (BBC | NewsLetter). According to this mural, however, B company is ready to reform in response to those who “play with peace”, fifty years later (or so – the mural claims the group was founded in 1970; other sources give 1972 (WP cites Peter Taylor).
“50 years has passed/We were forced to don our masks/Don’t play with peace/Or attack our land/We await in the shadows/B Coy Red Hand”
Garlands of flowers rest at the base of the (upper) mural to UVF volunteer Brian Robinson on the thirtieth anniversary of his death, on September 2nd, 1989, by a British Army undercover unit, moments after he had shot and killed a Catholic civilian named Patrick McKenna on the Crumlin Road (WP).
The other (lower) mural to Robinson in Disraeli Street is shown in the image below (and previously in Shankill Star). “1st batt, B coy, Vol Brian Robinson killed in action 2nd Sept 1989. For his country and people he took up the gun, a volunteer to the end, and a true Ulster son. Robbed of his life’s blood in Sept. 89, but the name Brian Robinson will live for all time.”
The plaque shown above sits in a memorial garden at the blind end of Disraeli Street, which in 1969 ran out onto the Crumlin Road between Hooker and Brookfield streets on the nationalist side, which saw intense rioting in August 1969 (see 90 Years Of Resistance; also Can It Change? for the lower Shankill). The UVF was founded in 1966 in response to the Civil Rights campaign and an IRA attack on Nelson’s statue in Dublin, and the WDA in June 1970 in response to escalating tensions along the upper Crumlin.
“The officers and volunteers “B” company Ulster Volunteer Force and the officers and volunteers “B” company Woodvale Defence Association remember with pride the people of the Woodvale area killed during the conflict. This plaque stands in the area which bore witness to the first outbreak of the troubles and is a symbol of the solidarity shown by the people of this community.