July 4 – HMS Foylebank bombed defending Portland Harbour

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WW2Memoir - Foyle Bank - sunk1.JPG

Belfast built HMS Foylebank was converted to be an anti-aircraft ship. Merchant Navy men from Northern Ireland serving as Naval Auxiliary Personnel were amongst the casualties. Here is a short account of the ship and a Roll of Honour

HMS Foylebank was a converted 5,500 ton merchant ship active during WW2. Built by Harland & Wolff Ltd. in Belfast, she was launched as the MV Foylebank by Bank Line (Andrew Weir Shipping) in 1930 and requisitioned by the Royal Navy in September 1939.

She was converted into an anti-aircraft ship, equipped with 0.5 inch (12.7 mm) machine guns, two quad 2-pounder pom-pomsand four twin high angle 4-inch gun turrets. The Foylebank saw action in Portland Harbour next to the Isle of Portland in Dorset, England. She arrived in Portland on 9 June 1940 for a build-up to anti-aircraft duties commanded by Captain H.P. Weir.

On 4 July 1940 whilst the majority of her crew were at breakfast, unidentified aircraft were reported to the south. These were originally thought to be Allied aircraft returning to base but they turned out to be 26 Junkers Ju 87 Stuka dive bombers. These aircraft had the objective of disabling the Foylebank which was seen as a threat to their plans to destroy Britain’s coastal shipping. In an eight-minute attack, two aircraft were shot down by the Foylebank but an estimated 22 bombs hit the ship and the ship listed to port, shrouded in smoke. She sank on 5 July 1940. 176 out of a total crew of 298 were killed. Many more were wounded. One of the ship’s company, Jack Foreman Mantle, was posthumously awarded the Victorious Cross for his actions in defending the ship from aircraft whilst mortally injured.
The Foylebank was later salvaged in two sections and later broken up at two different yards.

176 crew were killed and all but 40 were wounded; total survivors include 13 officers one of which was the Commanding officer and 144 ratings.

Foyle-Bank-Anti-Air-Craft-ship

ROLL OF HONOUR  HMS FOYLEBANK

+BAIRD, Samuel
Naval Auxiliary Personnel (Merchant Navy). Carpenter. 151085. Died 04/07/1940. Age 41. HMS Foylebank. Son of James and Sarah Baird; husband of Annie Baird, of Belfast. Liverpool Naval Memorial, Panel 12

+BRANNIFF, Daniel
Naval Auxiliary Personnel (Merchant Navy). Plumber. T124. Died 04/07/1940. HMS Foylebank. Had previously worked with Harland and Wolf as a plumber. A brother was killed in WW1 serving with the Sherwood Foresters. Husband to Mrs. Agnes Braniff, Alliance Parade, Belfast. (Belfast Weekly Telegraph 03/08/1940). Liverpool Naval Memorial, Panel 12.

+CRAWFORD, John
Naval Auxiliary Personnel (Merchant Navy). Storekeeper. Died 04/07/1940. Age 60. HMS Foylebank. Native of Glenarm. Son of William and Elizabeth Crawford; husband to Mary Crawford, Enfield Parade, Belfast. (Belfast Weekly Telegraph 27/07/1940). Liverpool Naval Memorial, Panel 13.

+FISHER, Harry
Naval Auxiliary Personnel (Merchant Navy). Ship’s Cook. 972903. Died 04/07/1940. Age 53. HMS Foylebank. 20 years service. Served in WW1 with King’s Royal Rifles and was wounded. Son of Agnes Fisher, Bryson St., Newtownards Rd., Belfast. Father of a daughter. (Belfast Weekly Telegraph 20/07/1940). Liverpool Naval Memorial, Panel 13.

+HALL, William
Naval Auxiliary Personnel (Merchant Navy). Donkeyman and Greaser. 40986. Died 04/07/1940. Age 30. H.M.S. Foylebank. Before joining he was employed by the Belfast Co-Operative Society. A brother, Bombardier John Hall RA, was serving. Another brother, Thomas, was discharged injured from serving in the RN. (Belfast Weekly Telegraph 03/08/1940). Son of Thomas and Mary Hall; husband to Olivia Hall, St. Andrew’s Sq., East, Belfast. Father to three young children. Liverpool Naval Memorial, Panel 13

+HEGGAN, Edward
Naval Auxiliary Personnel (Merchant Navy). Saloon Steward. 1032753. Died 04/07/1940. Aged 36. H.M.S. Foylebank. Son of William and Jennie Heggan; husband of Mary Elizabeth Heggan, of Ballycarry, Co. Antrim. Liverpool Naval Memorial, Panel 13.

+McCULLOUGH, Francis Campbell
Naval Auxiliary Personnel (Merchant Navy). Junior Fourth Engineer Officer. R177718. Died 04/07/1940. Age 29. H.M.S. Foylebank. (Belfast Weekly Telegraph 31/08/1940). Son of William and Mary McCullough, Belfast; husband to Thomasena McCullough, Cupar St., Belfast. Father to three children. Liverpool Naval Memorial, Panel 13.

+McMULLAN, James Wilson
RNR. Sub Lieutenant. (E). HMS Foylebank. Died 04/07/1940. Liverpool Naval Memorial, Panel 2. Dunluce Parish WM

+MIGHTON, William R
Naval Auxiliary Personnel (Merchant Navy). Junior Engineer. Died 04/07/1940. Age 23. HMS Foylebank. Served his engineering apprenticeship with WH Real, Linenhall St., Belfast. A member of Beechpark Scout Troop and Cooke RFC. His father William R Mighton served in WW1 being twice wounded. (Belfast Weekly Telegraph 31/08/1940). Son of William Robert and Elizabeth Mighton, Belfast. Liverpool Naval Memorial, Panel 13.

+MOORE, Daniel
Naval Auxiliary Personnel (Merchant Navy), Donkeyman. 54830. Died 04/07/1940. Age 31. HMS Foylebank. (Belfast Weekly Telegraph 03/08/1940). Son of Daniel and Margaret Moore; husband to Elizabeth Moore, Belfast. Father to three children. Liverpool Naval Memorial, Panel 13.

+POLLY, Robert George
Naval Auxiliary Personnel (Merchant Navy). Assistant Storekeeper. Died 04/07/1940. HMS Foylebank. Son of R Polly, Carmel St., Belfast. Had been employed by Federated Employers Assurance. (Belfast Weekly Telegraph 10/08/1940) Liverpool Naval Memorial, Panel 13

+ROBERTS, Francis
Naval Auxiliary Personnel (Merchant Navy), Donkeyman. 54830. Died 04/07/1940. Age 38. HMS Foylebank. Former employee of Belfast gas Works. He had 14 years service in the merchant navy before the outbreak of war. (Belfast Weekly Telegraph 03/08/1940). Son of Francis and Rachael Roberts. Husband to Rebecca Roberts, Belfast and father of a young son. Liverpool Naval Memorial, Panel 13.

+WEIR, Henry Joseph
Naval Auxiliary Personnel (Merchant Navy). Junior Engineer. 194131. Died 04/07/1940. Age 31. HMS Foylebank. Eldest son of Robert and Maud Weir, Ballygomartin Rd., Belfast. Husband to Mrs. Mabel Weir, Sicily Pk., Finaghy, Belfast. (Belfast Weekly Telegraph 03/08/1940). Liverpool Naval Memorial, Panel 13

+WILKIE, David
Naval Auxiliary Personnel (Merchant Navy). Second Electrician. Died 04/07/1940. Age 38. HMS Foylebank. Joined in May and on July 8 his wife was notified he was missing. Husband to Elizabeth Wilkie, Grand Parade, Belfast. (Belfast Weekly Telegraph 17/08/1940). Liverpool Naval Monument, Panel 13

 

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