Ulster Tower

The Ulster Tower is a memorial to the men of the 36th (Ulster) Division. The memorial was officially opened on November 19, 1921 and is a very close copy of Helen's Tower which stands in the grounds of the Clandeboye Estate, near Bangor, County Down in Northern Ireland. Many of the men of the Ulster Division trained in the estate before moving to England and then France early in 1916.

It is located very near to the famous Schwaben Redoubt, which the Division attacked on July 1, 1916. The Schwaben Redoubt was a little to the north-east of where the tower stands, and was a triangle of trenches with a frontage of 300 yards, a fearsome strongpoint with commanding views. It is also located close to the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme.

The front lines were at the edge of Thiepval Wood which lies to the south-west of the road between the Thiepval Memorial and the Ulster Tower. Troops of the 109th Brigade crossed about 400 yards of no man's land, and kept on going. They entered the Schwaben Redoubt, and advanced on towards Stuff Redoubt, gaining in all around a mile, though not without losses. To their left, the 108th Brigade were successful in advancing near Thiepval, but less so nearer the River Ancre.

The 107th Brigade supported them, but although men of the 36th Division held out for the day the Germans mounted counterattacks, and as their stocks of bombs and ammunition dwindled, many fell back with small parties remaining in the German front lines. The casualties suffered by the 36th Division on the 1st of July totalled over 5,000.

The tower (plus a small cafe nearby) is staffed by members of the Somme Association, which is based in Belfast.


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