Tree Planting Ceremony


This photograph taken during the tree planting ceremony shows The Hon Lady Kennedy who was representing The North of Ireland War Pensions Committee and her daughter Miss Kennedy, standing at the basement door of the tower.

The main group includes Field Marshal Douglas Haig, (third from left) 1st Earl Haig, KT, GCB, OM, GCVO, KCIE commander of the British Expeditionary Forces on the Western Front and Major John (Johnnie) Dunwoodie Martin McCallum CBE DSO “the wee Major”, (working with the tree).

In 1914, McCallum had been adjutant in the 8th (Service) Battalion (East Belfast), Royal Irish Rifles. Then as part of the 36th (Ulster) Division, McCallum was posted to France in 1915. He was awarded a DSO for his actions at the Battle of the Somme on the 1st July 1916 and a Croix de Guerre in 1918. Near the end of the war, he served as second-in-command of the 12th (Service) Battalion (Central Antrim), Royal Irish Rifles.

The gentleman in the bowler hat is Marechal (Marshal of France) Henri-Philippe Pétain. He was a French First World War hero.  In 1916 Pétain was tasked with stopping the German attack on the fortress city of Verdun. Although the situation was practically hopeless, he was prudent with the use of the artillery, along with strategically reorganising the frontline and the transport systems, and he was able to inspire in his troops a heroism that became historic. He became a popular hero and French commander in chief.

Pétain was made a marshal of France, a great honour, in November 1918 and was subsequently appointed to the highest military offices, vice president of the Supreme War Council and inspector general of the French army.

The Second World War didn’t bring him such honour. He was named vice premier on 16th June 1940, at the age of 84 but his actions and decisions ended with him being brought to trial in France.  He was condemned to death in August 1945. His sentence was immediately commuted to solitary confinement for life. Pétain was imprisoned in a fortress on the Île d’Yeu off the Atlantic coast, where he died at the age of 95 a fallen Hero.