A local haulage company has paid a novel and touching tribute the local men who lost their lives during the Somme Offensive of World War One.
Banbridge company, Baird Brothers Transport, have had a lorry airbrushed with artwork depicting scenes from the Attack of the Ulster Division, to mark the centenary of the battle.
Director Colin Baird said they were inspired to mark the 100th year of the battle in this way, as the lorry frequently works in the Somme area travelling close to many of the battlefields.
“With the centenary of the battle approaching, we felt it was a fitting tribute for the men from Banbridge and from all over Ireland,” said Colin. “We wanted to do something for them, and so this is a tribute to the men who went and didn’t come back again.
“Our lorry travels in the Somme area and draws out of Verdun - the battle of Verdun of course being one of the reasons the Somme offensive began.
“My wife’s grandfather was injured at the Somme and while I have no close relatives who were involved in the Somme my three brothers are all members of the Somme Association in Newtownards and so we felt this was something we would like to do.”
The Somme lorry has been a big hit with local school children, having paid a visit to several schools in the area.
“The school children have loved it,” said Colin. “Last Friday we visited Banbridge High school and we’ve been to several schools - it’s been more often out of the yard than in.”
Monday, however, saw the tanker’s celebrity tour come to an end as it set off for France on official work, to transport a glycerin load.
The custom airbrushing was carried out by John Gray of Air Force One Artwork.
Colin said: “We discussed the design with John and worked it out between us.
“On the back of the lorry is a silhouette of a soldier standing with his head bowed, along with the words of the Remembrance tribute ‘They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old’.
“On the top of the lorry are poppies for the 36th Ulster Division and the 16th Irish division, and then red poppies falling down.
“All our other lorries are painted in our own colours so this one is totally different. We’ve had a great response from all over Ireland with people from as far as Cork contacting us about it.”
“I know John has done artwork on other lorries before, but not like this.”
Baird Brothers was established in 1968 by William Baird. The company currently have 26 lorries, 59 tanks and 45 tippers.