THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: ‘British Legion stands up for a better world,’ preachers tell Portavogie congregation

Fishing trawlers in the port of Portavogie.  Photo: Brian Little Archives / News Letter
Fishing trawlers in the port of Portavogie. Photo: Brian Little Archives / News Letter

More than a hundred members of the British Legion attended a drumming service at the Green Presbyterian Church, Portavogie, the previous afternoon when the new Kircubbin branch standard was consecrated, the News Letter.

Among the branches represented were Belfast, Comber, Newtownards, Ballywalter, Portaferry, Donaghadee, Bangor and Helen’s Bay.

The men were lined up inside the school of physical education, under the direction of MM. T. Mahood and THE Pearcy, respectively president and vice-president of the Kircubbin branch.

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A former Canadian soldier, Mr. Palmer, was also present.

They were inspected by Lord Londonderry, who was accompanied by Lord Bangor, President of the Northern Ireland Region, Brigadier-General HG Young, CIE, DSO, Vice-President; and Captain JM Blakiston-Houston.

A contingent from Bangor included Captain WH Keenan, chairman, and Mr. T Henderson, who acted as standard bearer.

Mr. Walter Davidson wore the new Kircubbin colors, along with Messrs. Andrew Filson and John Mageean as guards.

The procession from school to church was led by the Portavogie Flute Band.

Major Ferguson, secretary, and Captain TH Mayes, treasurer of the Northern Ireland region, were also present.

In the church, Lord Londonderry read part of the scriptures and Reverend Canon Elliott, CF, Vicar of Ballymacarrett, performed the dedication ceremony and delivered a speech.

The following ministers also took part in the service: The Presbyterian Church of Rev. Daniel Palmer, Cloughey and Portavogie: Rev. Alexander McCrea, MA, Principal of Edghill College; Reverend S Stevenson, Presbyterian Church of Glastry; and the Reverend HT Cotter, Rector of Ballyeasborough; Miss E Adair presided over the organ, and MV McNeill, Newtownards, sounded the ‘Last Post’ and the ‘Reveille’.

A collection was made for the benefit of the Earl Haig Fund.

Canon Elliott, in his speech, said the British Legion was not ashamed to take a stand on the religion of Jesus Christ.

He said: “With the dedication of the colors we have once again dedicated ourselves to the high traditions of the British Legion.

“One of our mottos is the loyalty of the King-Emperor and we especially thank His Majesty for escaping injury last week.”

Canon Elliott continued: “It is the custom of British rulers to move among the people in confidence without a bodyguard. When King George visited Belfast and when King Edward, as Prince of Wales, opened the Parliament Buildings, they were not surrounded by guards. King Edward has the courage required for royalty.

Calling on the congregation to remember the men who served, the preacher quoted General Nugent’s famous dispatch after the Battle of Thiepval that “nothing finer had been done during the war than the attack on the Ulster division ”. While King George, in a message to Lord Carson, said: “The men of Ulster have proven how well they can fight and die.”

Advocating for the ban on war, Canon Elliott said there was no reason but selfishness that “war should not be cast into the limbo of forgotten things like dueling and slavery. “.

He concluded: “The British Legion stands for a better world and tries to free it from the curse of conflict and bitterness. “