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The Derrys

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The Derrys

In the first quarter of the 20th century, Europe suffered from much trial and bloodshed with Ulster playing its role in the grim drama. Unionist opposition to Home Rule involved the formation of the Ulster Volunteer Force with Londonderry at the fore. The Memorial Hall proved essential for training of the 3500 recruits of the City Regiments 3 battalions. The sentiments of the UVF’s Major Fred Crawford, organiser of resistance to Home Rule in the early 20th Century, still remain. So impressed by the Siege of Londonderry that Crawford was motivated to employ it with his plans and changed the name of the Clyde Valley, the Ulster gunrunning ship, to the Mountjoy II, a relieving ship of 1689.

When the 1st World War broke out in 1914, the City UVF formed the 10th Enniskilling Battalion of the 36th Ulster Division with the local Hamilton Band who joined in block as the regimental band. The Derrys served with distinction and claimed many awards. Their great contribution on the 1st July 1916 at the Somme when they attacked Schwaben Redout cost them many lives, the bloodiest day in the City’s history since the Siege. The Derrys went to hell and back at the Somme. They later served at other Western Front battles.

Over 4000 locals volunteered, including the Derrys Battalion and they suffered severe losses. 756 names are listed on the War Memorial, however it is believed 400 further names should be recorded. In 1920, Colonel Irvine wrote of the reorganised UVF which involved most of the Derrys “appreciating to the full the unique history of Londonderry and the influences that has moulded its protestant citizens into what are the most staunch, unselfish and determined loyalists, it is appropriate to reflect on the battle cry of No Surrender that has become Ulsters watchword.”


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