Causeway Chronicle

Carrick commemorate 80th anniversary of major battle

The 80th anniversary of the Battle for the Hitler Line will be commemorated in Carrickfergus on 17 and 18 May 2024. 

The Battle for the Hitler Line in Italy in 1944 was a pivotal event, which breached Nazi defences and paved the way for ultimate victory. 

The North Irish Horse – which had many soldiers from the Borough in its ranks – supported the 1st Canadian Division in a frontal attack on the Hitler Line, which stretched across central Italy. Success came at price though, with the loss of 36 men and 32 tanks. 

In recognition of the support they received, the Canadian government awarded the North Irish Horse the honour of wearing the Maple Leaf and each year Maple Leaf insignia is presented to underline this unique tradition. 

To remember this momentous anniversary, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has organised several key events. 

On Friday 17 May there will be a keynote address in Carrick Town Hall. Military historian Richard Doherty will speak on the subject of ‘The North Irish Horse at the Hitler Line’. 

The author of twenty military history titles, Mr. Doherty is a well-known historian and broadcaster. His talk will be free to attend and can be booked by contacting members.services@midandeastantrim.gov.uk  

On Saturday 18 May at 11am, the drumhead service at Joymount car park will precede a parade through the town led by the Band of the Royal Irish Regiment and a church service at St. Nicholas Parish Church. 

Joymount car park will be closed from late on Friday afternoon until Saturday afternoon due to the event and the adjacent High Street car park will also be closed to the general public. 

The North Irish Horse commemorate the battle each year in Carrickfergus, close to the Churchill IV tank which was built in the town during the Second World War. The Churchill tanks were used by the regiment in Europe and often had the names of Ulster towns displayed on their livery. 

In 2016 the members of B (North Irish Horse) Squadron of the Scottish and North Irish Yeomanry had the Freedom of the Borough conferred on them in recognition of the longstanding connections with the area. 

Among those expected to be present at the commemoration are the Lord Lieutenant for County Antrim, former members of the North Irish Horse and current serving members from Northern Ireland and Scotland. 

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Alderman Gerardine Mulvenna, said: “We are honoured to be hosting this event, which marks the incredible contribution of the North Irish Horse, who Council previously bestowed the Freedom of the Borough on. 

“Throughout the 80th anniversary weekend, we will remember and reflect on one of the hardest-fought battles in the history of a local regiment. 

“The bravery of all those involved in the battle resonates strongly within our community today, and I welcome our residents to join us to reflect on their sacrifice.”

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A drumhead service was held at Joymount Car Park and parade through Carrickfergus led by the Band of the Royal Irish Regiment and a church service at St. Nicholas Parish Church. Pic Steven McAuley/McAuley Multimedia

Causeway Chronicle

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