Monday 16 September 2019 10:04:14 PM

Killyleagh To Remember WWII With Street Party
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A massive street party for schoolchildren is being proposed to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.

Killyleagh wants to throw the party next year as part of the celebrations to mark the day war ended in 1945. 

At a public meeting in the town’s Lecture Hall, consideration was given to a series of cross-community events on the weekend of Friday 8th May, next year, which has been designated as a public holiday to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

The main proposal is to hold a free street party for the children of the two local primary schools, Killyleagh Integrated and St Mary’s.

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American GI’s pictured in 1942 in the bawn of Killyleagh Castle.

It will form part of the UK-wide celebrations being held over that weekend.
The two other main events, in line with the UK commemorations, are a cross-community religious service and a nation’s toast when glasses are raised in local pubs at the exact time that Winston Churchill announced an end to war.

The Killyleagh Remembers the War group — an umbrella organisation which organised a five year-long programme of cross-community events to mark the 100th anniversary of the Great War — is to be the lead organiser of next year’s events.

Approval was given at the meeting for the group to explore funding opportunities.

Councillors Billy Walker (DUP) and Terry Andrews (SDLP) spoke in support of the project and stressed the importance of involving local schoolchildren.
A display of re-enactors and World War Two vehicles is another option being explored, with schools competitions, history talks and a walking trail also suggested.

In a joint statement, the councillors said: “One of the ideas we are looking at it is a medals and memories day when the families of soldiers who served in the Second World War can bring along photos and medals, and share their memories with us,” explained a spokesperson for the organising group.

“We are keen to hear from people who can remember the day American GI’s first marched into Killyleagh and Shrigley in May 1942.

“The United States troops, members of the 1st American Armoured Division, were based across Co Down in Castlewellan, Downpatrick, Killyleagh, Ballykinlar, Newcastle, Dundrum, Spa and Tullymore.

“Many of the soldiers were to die within less than a year of an iconic photo being taken in front of the village castle. They were to become part of the first divisions to see combat with German forces in World War Two in North Africa.

“We are keen to hear from people who remember them. We have this one photo taken at the castle. We are also keen to hear from anyone still in touch with the families of the soldiers.”

The research is also to look at the Belfast Blitz and schoolchildren evacuated to Killyleagh; the English, Scottish and Welsh soldiers who were based in Shrigley and Killyleagh; and the local soldiers, sailors and airmen who served from 1939 to 1945.