Testaments of War

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Testaments - 01

Recently our coordinator (Jason Burke) was contacted by a gentleman from east Belfast who possessed two bibles which belonged to a soldier of the Great War.  Realising the potential research value to the East Belfast & The Great War project the gentleman made the kind offer to donate the bibles to the project in order that an investigation could be carried out on their origins.  Jason has commenced work on the bibles but it is expected to take some time to extract and explore each piece of vital information.  It is hoped that regular updates will be provided on the website so please return soon in order to hear more about these amazing bibles.  If you are related to any of the individuals mentioned below please get in touch at: jburke07@qub.ac.uk


Here are a selection of Images taken from ‘bible 1’:

Testaments - 02 

A dried leaf which was discovered inside the bible. Looks like “Frank” is written in pencil on the leaf.

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A feather was discovered inside the bible.

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This token with a “friends” message was found in the bible.

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Lissie: Born 11th of June 1899 – Married 24th December 1919.

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Rifleman Arthur Mulligan of 9 Utility Street appears in both bibles – his relatives may be key linking some of the names found inside.

Here is a selection of images taken from ‘bible 2’:

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Mr. J Smith – 14 Church Street, Belfast

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Rifleman D. McTaggart – 52 Clonallon Street. Killed.

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Rifleman Arthur Mulligan. Reported in this image as missing, but was in fact taken prisoner.

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Rifleman John Smyth – 14 Church Street East – Newtownards Road.

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Rifleman William Weir – Royal Irish Rifles (M.G.C.) – 37 Upper Frank Street, Belfast. Taken prisoner.

Here is BBC Northern Ireland coverage  soon after the  bibles were received:

A WW1 researcher in east Belfast is asking for the public’s help to trace the relatives of a Royal Irish Rifles soldier.

Soldier Arthur Mulligan is believed to have lived at 9 Utility Street, off Donegall Road in south Belfast.

Two bibles containing photos of him, other soldiers and a number of delicate items have been given to Jason Burke, a researcher from the community project, East Belfast and the Great War, in the hopes of reuniting them with their rightful owners.

Mr Burke said he had been given a “treasure trove of information” and told BBC News NI how the 100-year-old items came into his possession.

‘No use’

“I was actually only given them last Friday, by an elderly man who had contacted me,” he said.

“He wasn’t sure how they came to be in his possession, but said he found them in his house and was just going to throw them in the bin, as he was getting on a bit and had no use for them.”

Jason said the man did not believe they belonged to his family because they did not share the same surname, but that he hoped that Jason could help to work out who they actually belonged to.

When Jason opened the bibles, he found a number of small tokens inside them, including a couple of pictures of Arthur Mulligan, newspaper clippings, photos of other WW1 soldiers, and even more unusually, a peacock feather and a dried flower.

Window into soldier’s world

“I’m not sure how long these items have been in the bibles, but certainly it makes the mystery a little bit more intriguing,” Jason said.

He said the bibles, which contain lots of different handwritten notes and dates, are just a small window into life as a soldier during the war.

“I think the bibles may belong to Mulligan, but the other photos of soldiers could have been his friends, who I’m trying to find out more about as well,” Jason said.

He added that a number of people have already contacted him with information about Mulligan families who may have lived in the same street in Belfast many years ago.

Jason said the bibles contain plenty of interesting clues to work with, and he is hopeful that someone will eventually come forward to claim them.

“They’re something that a family member may want to have, and so I have my detective hat on to try and get to the root of it all,” Jason added.