Plea to trace families of Sunderland soldiers killed during Ulster Troubles
Organisers of a poignant service are hoping to trace relatives of Sunderland soldiers who lost their lives during Northern Ireland’s bloody Troubles.
At least six servicemen from the city were killed in Ulster while British troops were deployed in the province from 1969-2007.
They include Captain Robert Nairac, from Ashbrooke, who was executed by the IRA in 1977 at the age of 28 after he was kidnapped while working undercover for military intelligence.
August 14 marks 50 years since the start of what was known as Operation Banner.
A series of nationwide events are taking place to remember the 1,441 soldiers to have lost their lives during the sectarian and political conflict.
Sunderland will host a service at the War Memorial, in Mowbray Park, on Saturday, August 17, which has been organised by Veterans in Crisis Sunderland (VICS) and the city’s Gunners Club.
Beginning at 10.45am, it will include tributes from a bugler and a bagpipes player, a minute’s silence and the laying of wreaths in memory of the Sunderland soldiers.
VICS founder Ger Fowler, who served himself in Northern Ireland during the late 1980s, said: “We would really like the families of the Sunderland soldiers who died in Northern Ireland to get in touch with us so they can place a wreath on the day.
“It is a poignant occasion nationally and it is poignant for me because I served in Northern Ireland.
“Sunderland also play Portsmouth that day and It is likely that Portsmouth, as a big military city, will also have soldiers who lost their lives in Northern Ireland as well.
“So any of their fans and indeed anyone is welcome to join us on the day.”
Light refreshments will also be served in the Gunners Club, in 10-11 Mary Street, Sunderland city centre, after the service.
Ger, 49, from Southwick, founded VICs following his own battles with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), drink and drugs after leaving the Light Infantry in 1991.
The community interest company has already helped more than 100 former servicemen and women since its formation in its current guise in 2017.
Relatives of Sunderland soldiers to have died in Northern Ireland can contact Ger on (07398) 916590.