Battle of the Somme, the Attack of the Ulster Division by JP Beadle.
painting which is hung In the West corridor of Belfast City Hall, alongside
the portrait of Major General Sir Oliver Nugent, Commander of the 36th
(Ulster) Division 1915-1918 by William Conoris, is considered to be a
realistic representation, devoid of sensationalism and capturing the atmosphere
of the historic occasion. It depicts soliders of the 11th (Service) battalion
The Royal Irish Rifles (South Antrim Volunteers), the right forward unit
of the 108th Inf. Brig. The first wave is seen leaving the 'A' line of
trenches from which prisoners are being evacuated and approaching the
'B' line preceded by a bombing party throwing Mills bombs.
One man can be seen carrying a marker in the form of the Battalion sign mounted on a pole used to indicate to observers the extent of the unit's progress. In the centre of the picture can be seen a rifleman eagerly pressing forward with a determined expression and a bloody bayonet. he is from 15th Bn. The Royal Irish Rifles (North belfast volunteers) the supporting unit of 108th Inf. Brig. His unit can be distinguished by the scarlet triangular shoulder flash.
The soldiers are wearing khaki service dress some with the trousers shortened because of the warm weather. The Bn. flash, an inverted orange semi-circle is worn on the upper arm. their accoutrements are the pattern 1914 leather infantry equipment which was issued to units of the new army as a substitute for the 1908 pattern web equipment, at this stage in short supply and only in use with the regular ands first-line territorial force units. A rolled ground sheet is secured to the belt at the back. Picks and shovels are carried by certain men and the bombers carry their reserve of grenades in canvas buckets fitted with slings. All ranks are armed with the SMLE with the first type of sword bayonet, no.1mk.1 pattern 1, 1907.
The officer is Francis Bodenham Thornely. He was born in August 1896, the son of R.M. Thornely of the Old Hall, Eyton, leominster, Hereforshire. Also he was the nephew of Major P. L. Kington Blair Oliphant, the second-in-command of the 11th battalion Royal Irish Rifles. Thornely was educated at Uppingham School 1910-14 and appointed Lieutenant on december 31 1914. During the battle he was wounded while serving with 'B' Company and while recuperating, he was assigned to advise the artist.