Former Mayor’s personal link to War Memorial

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Former Londonderry Mayor Gerard Diver once took a trip back in honour of a relative, his great uncle John James (JJ) Diver, who is listed on Londonderry’s War Memorial.

Speaking to the Sentinel Trevor Temple, who has researched the 756 names on Londonderry’s memorial, 48 per cent of whom had nationalist backgrounds, said: “JJ Diver, great uncle of the [former] Mayor died on August 21, 1916, at Loos in France.

“He was part of the 6th Royal Irish Regiment, which was part of the 16th Irish Division, the nationalist or Redmondite soldiers from Ireland who fought in World War I.”

Mr Temple said the division were moved up to the Somme, perhaps the most infamous battle of the 1914-18 conflict, that raged from July to November 1916, claiming the lives of more than 1.5 million.

“That division fought at Guillemont on September 3 and distinguished themselves by winning two Victoria Crosses in one day. They were also heavily involved in the Battle of Ginchy on September 9, “ said Mr Temple.

It also transpires that the former Mayor’s grandfather, William Diver fought in both global conflicts of the twentieth century. When his brother JJ was killed at Loos, William was actually in hospital suffering from shell shocked. He was to become a POW in Germany in the 1939-45 war.

The Diamond War Memorial Project, based at the Holywell Trust in Bishop Street, has to date produced a Commemorative War Diary outlining the life stories of the 756 people listed on Londonderry’s War Memorial.

From the Diary came, a virtual memorial to those on the monument at the Diamond. It is hoped the project can be expanded to list all those from the city who served and died in all the conflicts of the last century-from the Boer War to Korea.