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World War One bravery of Benvarden soldier remembered in new CD

World War One bravery of Benvarden soldier remembered in new CD

Thu, June 29, 2017

A new CD based on the Battle of Messines has been officially launched at an event in Ballymoney Museum.

Entitled ‘Meeke and The Major’, David Kane’s music tells the story of the selfless act of Private John Meeke who tended to the injured Major Willie Redmond during World War One.

Through song and music, the extraordinary bravery of the Benvarden soldier is poignantly told for all ages to enjoy.

The Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Councillor Joan Baird, OBE said: “We are delighted to be able to support such an important project that brings our communities together in remembering this special history. I want to commend the Meeke and The Major steering group for their creativity and dedication in telling this story and reminding the public about two very significant individuals who overcame their differences in World War One.”

At the Battle of the Messines in June 1917, Private Meeke was working as a stretcher bearer and attending to the wounded.  He spotted Major Willie Redmond, an Irish Nationalist MP, fall during an attack on the German lines. As he attended to Willie, Private Meeke was under constant fire but refused to leave him until he was brought to a field dressing station. Despite his efforts, Major Willie Redmond died of his injuries, and Private Meeke was later awarded the Military Medal for his bravery.

Previous to the CD launch, a play written by Miriam Thompson was performed at Benvarden Orange Hall. The talented local cast gave audiences an indication as to what happened at The Battle of Messines and they are now planning a programme of workshops in schools and community centres across the borough.

Frankie Cunningham, Meeke and The Major Steering Committee member and Project Coordinator said: “These workshops, developed by the steering group will encourage active learning in schools and community centres with a focus on local history. This will provide a permanent reference base, and a legacy which will be kept in museums, libraries, schools and local churches to ensure that artefacts, information and memories are preserved for future generations.”

Deputy Master of Benvarden Lodge, Steven Philips, said: “Members are extremely proud to have an association with the war hero Private John Meeke. He was an exceptionally brave soldier and a man who showed great compassion. He will always be remembered for trying to save more lives than his own.”

The launch would not have been possible without support from Dervock and District Community Association, The Building Communities Resource Centre, Benvarden Orange Lodge, The International Fund for Ireland PEACE Impact Programme and The Department of Foreign Affairs.

Copies of the CD can be bought for £5 from the Building Communities Resource Centre. Please call 028 2766 5068 for more information.