Belfast Royal Academy - founded 1785


Our School – The Academy and the Great War

223 former pupils of the School were involved in the war. Of these, 36 were killed and 38 were wounded.

The Roll of Honour, made public some time after the war, comprised a Companion of the Bath, a Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George, three Distinguished Service Orders, a Distinguished Service Medal, two Military Medals, fourteen Military Crosses, the Legion of Honour, two Croix de Guerre, one Belgian Croix de Guerre, the Cross and Medal of the Russian Order of St. George, and the Italian Silver Medal.

One former pupil, who served as Gunner Irwin RGA, wrote a short account of his experience on the Western Front and this was published in the  school magazine of that time. He described how,

“Away in front of me winds that sinuous line, the trenches, where men striving to kill each other are sometimes separated only by a few yards.  Every few minutes along this line goes up a brilliant light illuminating everything in a ghostly radiance. This is often followed by a rattle of machine guns and rifle fire which gradually dies down to a faint murmur and then breaks out afresh as more lights go up.

Suddenly away in the night, there is a dull boom followed by another and another. It is one of the heavy batteries in action. I can see the flashes stabbing the blackness of the night and listen to the droning sounds of projectiles passing through the air. Then the firing finishes and the silences seem deeper than ever.

Such are the experiences of the night guard on a quiet night at the front”.

In January 1923, a memorial to those who had lost their lives in the war was erected; the stonework and the figures that act as supporters on either side of the memorial were executed by the sculptress Rosamund Praeger (sister of the distinguished botanist and natural historian, Robert Lloyd Praeger).

This may be seen at the foot of the main staircase in the Crombie Building.