The Western Front Today - Ulster Tower

Situated near to Thiepval Wood (now known as Authuille Wood) the Ulster Tower memorial is a replica of Helen's Tower on the estate of the Marquis of Dufferin at Clandeboye near Belfast.

The 36th (Ulster) Division trained at Clandeboye before coming to France, and this replica was erected in their honour.  It is located on the site of the German front line trench attacked by the 9th Royal Irish Rifles.

On 1 July the Ulsters charged from the forward edge of Thiepval Wood, across the road, up past where the tower stands and on to the crest and beyond.  They were the only soldiers north of the Albert-Bapaume road to pierce the German lines. Within 90 minutes fives lines of German trenches had been taken.

Built in 1921 the tower has long been a popular site for visitors to the battlefields of northern France.

For many years the memorial was looked after by a resident tenant in the tower (and in the early days there were also preserved trenches behind the tower; today there's a small copse retaining the 1916-18 contours, trench lines and shell holes).

Entry to the tower in those early days was only possible by borrowing the key from the superintendent.  The tower was re-dedicated by Princess Alice in 1991 on the 75th anniversary of the Somme battle and is owned by the Somme Association.

The accompanying visitors' centre was opened on 1 July 1994 behind the tower.  It offers snacks, books, maps and souvenirs for sale.

Film Footage of Ulster Tower

Before Endeavours Fade, Rose E.B. Coombs, After the Battle 1994
Major & Mrs Holt's Battlefield Guide - Somme, Leo Cooper 2000

A Kite Balloon was an observation balloon controlled by a cable from the ground.

- Did you know?