The Ancre Somme Association was born out of a Somme anniversary trip by a group of County Armagh people in 2006. The Association was officially formed in 2009 at the graveside of Sir William Allen. William Allen was a Linen manufacturer, Unionist politician and a Soldier and during the Great War he served with the 36th (Ulster) Division, ending the war as a battalion commander.
The majority of Co. Armagh men who fell on the opening day of the Battle of the Somme served with the 9th (Service) Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers. These men were buried where they had fallen, thus creating what became the Ancre Military Cemetery, a place with resonating significance for those from Co Armagh, hence the name chosen for the association.
As interest in The Great War has grown over the last decade so the membership and the range of activities of the association have grown far beyond the expectations of the founder members.
It quickly became apparent that others shared the same views and permission was granted to establish a branch in Scotland. The Scottish Branch has complimented the Ancre Somme Association as they honour all Scots who served in the Great War, and all Subsequent Conflicts. The Association currently has 6 branches in Northern Ireland and 2 in Scotland. Yet the name of the association retains its relevance to those outside Co Armagh.
As with most Great War cemeteries the burials in the Ancre Cemetery reflect the casualties of more than one unit and more than one engagement. The graves of Pte Samuel Abel, 2nd Lt. J A S Graham Clarke and Pte W Morrison, all of the Kings Own Scottish Borderers, reflect the sacrifice of the 29th Division on the 1st July. Those of Lance Serjeant D V Bridgeford, Pte W G Murdoch and Pte G Spence, all Gordon Highlanders, recall the assault by the 51st (Highland) Division on 13th November.
Whilst the majority of the burials in the cemetery are men from English units, that of Corporal James Bromley Bevan, who was killed on December 9th 1916, is of a soldier of the Royal Welch Fusiliers.
The Ancre Cemetery represents the sacrifice of all parts of the United Kingdom and The Ancre Somme Association, which takes its name from it, provides a vehicle for remembering that sacrifice.
Membership of the Ancre Somme Association is open to all, there are no restrictions. All we ask of our membership is that they support the on-going study and research of the historical findings derived from the events preceding, surrounding and following the Battle of the Somme on the 1st July 1916, as well as other subsequent conflicts, battles and wars.