The 36th (Ulster) Division was formed with units from the Ulster Volunteer Force, which had been raised in 1913 to fight against Home Rule in Ireland. After training, it was deployed to France in September 1915 and by mid-March the division had taken over a section of the front line astride the River Ancre between Hamel and Thiepval.
On 1st July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, the men of the 36th (Ulster) Division left their positions and made rapid progress as far as the German third line. As the assaults on Beaumont-Hamel and Thiepval were quickly repulsed, the Germans soon turned their full strength on the Ulster men who were trapped by enfilade fire and shelling. The division lost a total of 5,500 men, including some 2,500 killed.
1st July Ceremony
In 1921 a memorial was erected on the very ground where so many Ulster men had been killed or wounded. This beautiful memorial is the replica of Helen's Tower of the Clandeboye Estate, a place well known to the men because the 36th Ulster Division had trained there before being sent to France.
Every year, in remembrance of their bravery and courage, a ceremony is held on 1st July at the Ulster Tower. On 1st July 2017, the ceremony will take place at 2.30pm. Parking will be provided along the side of the road (D73 - see map below). This road will be open in one single direction, from Thiepval to Hamel.