A journey started 100 years ago from Ballymena and Dervock would once again bring those same communities together again.
Weather conditions were probably similar - wet, damp and overcast – but that same resilient spirit of Ulstermen was clearly self evident as those gathered waited patiently for the parade to commence.
Those assembled were gathered to remember Captain W. G. B. Stuart MC (born, Mountearl, Ballymena) who, like the 36 men from Dervock and district, joined the ranks of the 12th Battn Royal Irish Rifles (Central Antrim Volunteers) of the 108th Brigade, 36th Ulster Division.
The small, yet dignified parade led by Dervock Young Defenders Flute Band on Saturday 21st November made its way to St Colman’s Parish churchyard, Dervock to commemorate – along with others - the 12th Battalion Memorial Association, 36th Memorial LOL 143 and ‘Ultoniae Cultural & Heritage Society’ the supreme sacrifice given by Captain William Bruce George Stuart MC – Killed in action at Moeurves on 22nd November 1917. The oration by Reverend John Anderson featured the citation in the London Gazette on 17th September 1917 to the award of the Military Cross.
It read as follows:
“For conspicuous gallantry; and devotion to duty in commanding his company during an attack - He led them with great dash and personal gallantry, capturing many prisoners, and later on doing excellent work in consolidating captured positions.
“Throughout the action his fine example of determination and enthusiasm kept his men going at a time when they were dead beat.”
Those gathered listened intently as Reverend John Anderson recognised the extent of the families’ military service – identifying Rear Admiral Leslie Stuart CMG along with others who were commemorated in the family burial plot in St Colman’s Parish Churchyard, Dervock.
Jim McIlroy (12th Battalion Memorial Association & Carson Project) captured the mood: “Today’s service was not only to commemorate the supreme sacrifice paid by Captain William Bruce George Stuart MC – but to reflect and emphasize – and understand - that all communities acknowledge the
shared history and sacrifices of WWI and the impact it transported to all communities – Lest we Forget”