Anzac Day 2017 was commemorated at the Ballance House, the birthplace of John Ballance Premier of New Zealand from 1891-1893, in our now traditional manner on Sunday 23rd April.
Prior to the Interdenominational Service, Ex Servicemen’s Association banners were marched onto parade led by the Pipe Major of the local Royal Logistic Corps Regiment. The Service was conducted by the Rev John Farr, Rector of the local parish of Stoneyford assisted by members of his church choir. During the Service there was a traditional Act of Remembrance at which six wreathes were laid , the first by the Honorary Consul for New Zealand in Northern Ireland, Professor Sinclair Stockman, on behalf of the Government and people of New Zealand. The second was laid by His Worship the Mayor of Lisburn and Castlereagh. Next was a beautiful floral arrangement from the Mayor of Whanganui, which was where John Ballance lived when he was in New Zealand and which was laid by Mr Paul Hewitt, the Chairman of the Directors of the Ulster New Zealand Trust. . Mr Adrian Donaldson, a Reserve Army officer laid the next wreath on behalf of 38(Irish) Brigade who are the successors to 10th(Irish)Division who fought so gallantly in Gallipoli in 1915. He was followed by a New Zealand ex- serviceman now working in the area and he was followed lastly by Lt Col David Twigg who laid a wreath from the Royal Irish Regiment, representing the eight Irish Infantry Regiments who took part in the Gallipoli landings 102 years ago. The Service concluded with the Anzac Declaration and the singing of the National Anthem. The members of the Ulster New Zealand Trust were delighted to see so many new faces at this commemoration. Following the Service, tea and anzac biscuits were available for all in the Tea Barn.
Mr Bryan Johnston then gave a most fascinating presentation into the deaths of RNZAF who were killed in the skies over Northern Ireland during the Second World War. This story began in Belfast in Northern Ireland with further detail collected from Belfast near Christchurch in New Zealand before returning to Belfast in Northern Ireland. Mr Johnston concluded his presentation by presenting to the Ballance House, a montage of portraits of seven pilots who were killed over Ulster. In due course, as his research continues, he hopes to be able to add to this list of other New Zealand pilots killed here during the war.
Anzac Day Commemoration Service 2016
The 101st anniversary of the Allied landings on the Gallipoli Peninsula was commemorated at the Ballance House on Sunday 24th April 2016. Included in the landings on that dreadful morning in 1915 were the ANZAC Corps and the 29th British Division which included 1st Battalion Royal lnniskilling Fusiliers, 1st Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers and 1st Battalion Royal Munster Fusiliers. It was later in the campaign that 10th (Irish) Division landed at Suvla Bay in an effort to break the stale-mate. The Dublins and Munsters landed from the SS River Clyde on 25th April 1915 and were decimated as they came ashore. The ANZACs were landed a mile from their planned landing place further up the coast and came under immediate heavy sustained fire. This was the first occasion on which the ANZACs had answered the request of the Mother Country for help in time of war and in so doing suffered horrendously. In New Zealand and Australia, ANZAC day is remembered with pride to this very day with many thousands making the pilgrimage back to Gallipoli.
With thanks to the Rev. Mark E. Donald, Chaplain 2 Royal Irish and the First Garvagh Presbyterian Church Choir and all those who attended the service.