The Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Belgium. Remembering 12 today including 2 lost in HMS Indomitable, and 2 Irish infantry in Sicily 1943, with an account of Leading Aircraftsman Gerald McElrea from Antrim who was serving in Gosport with 930 Balloon Squadron when the site received a direct hit by a large bomb.
Representing their comrades who died on this day
6th Bn. Royal Irish Rifles. Rifleman.11583. Died 12/08/1915. East Mudros Miilitary Cemetery, Greece
6th Bn. Royal Irish Regiment. Private. 3039. Died 12/08/1917. Aged 19. Son of Francis and Teresa Murray, of Foremass, Sixmilecross, Co. Tyrone. Tyne Cot Cemetery, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium. Dungannon WM
RAF. Leading Aircraftman. 548268. Died 12/08/1940. Aged 19. 930 Balloon Sqdn. Son of Sarah McElrea, of Antrim. Gosport (Ann’s Hill) Cemetery, Hampshire
Leading Aircraftsman Gerald McElrea from Antrim was serving in Gosport with 930 Balloon Squadron and was at the Barrage Balloon Site at St Vincent Sports Ground, Forton Road when the site received a direct hit by a large Bomb.
The timing of this raid is remembered by Aircraftsman Second Class A.W. Kemp who on Remembrance Day 1988 recalled the attack saying:-
“The day was fine one with plenty of sun and we were out most of the time, drilling and getting used to our webbing equipment. The powers that be had decided that we were to be trained as much as possible for a line of defence should the German army invade. It was tiring but well worthwhile as we got used to our rifles and equipment very quickly.
“Just before midday, we had two corporals who were instructors to help us with our training. They had been with us only a short while when the red alert was sounded, as the sirens blared out. This usually happened well before a raid, but this time it was almost immediately that the guns opened up and we could hear the noise of the planes diving. Our NCO quickly ordered us all to retire to our air raid shelter.
“After a short while Frank Offord and I decided to go outside and find out what all the noise was about. We went around the back of the shelter into a slit trench, which was about 4 foot deep. The noise was deafening; we saw a parachute come down and then another – it was very exciting to watch at the time because it all seemed so far away. Frank and I spotted the Hun planes coming from the back of the site and one was dive bombing.
“The next thing I remember was a terrific explosion and we both lost consciousness. We must have been out for quite a while because as I came to Frank was shouting “I’m drowning!” I could see he was up to his waist in soil, his face was covered in blood, his nose was bleeding and he was in great pain. All this of course had also happened to me, and I felt terrible.
“We managed to struggle out of the trench and Frank said we’d better get to the sick bay as soon as we could. As we stood up ready to go, we looked at the shelter in front of us and all we could see was a great big hole. I said to Frank “We’d better get help quickly as the others may be buried and badly injured”. As we passed the balloon winch we saw it was on fire, and the house opposite had been hit.
“When we entered the Naval sick bay they had their hands full as there were casualties everywhere, and all they could do for us was to bathe out wounds and tell us that our centre at Titchfield was coming to collect us. We told them about the air raid shelter and they sent someone to investigate. Meanwhile the air raid sirens started again and we were sent to the air raid shelter were we saw civilians from the row of houses on the edge of the site. The mums did their best to comfort us, because they realised there was no hope for the rest of our crew. We were in so much pain; all we wanted was treatment to ease it. Eventually our R.A.F. ambulance turned up and took us to Titchfield where we were given drugs and treatment.”
Leading Aircraftsman Gerald McElrea was killed along with nine of his Comrades and a similar number of Civilians
+MURPHY, William H.
Royal Artillery. Gunner.1535737. Died on 12/08/1940. 170 Battery, 57 Light Anti Aircraft Regiment. Killysuggan Roman Catholic Graveyard, Newtownards
1942 HMS INDOMITABLE
RM. Marine. PO/X 102354. HMS Indomitable. Died 12/08/1942. Age 28. Member of Donacloney Cricket Club. Son of Samuel and Elizabeth Arlow, Donaghcloney. Husband to Elizabeth Arlow. (Belfast Weekly Telegraph 28/08/1942). Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Panel 70. Donaghcloney WM
+SCOTT, Hugh Kelly
RM. Marine. PO/X 101561. Died 12/08/1942. HMS Indomitable. Son of Agnes Scott, Enniskillen. Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Panel 70
Royal Artillery. Gunner. 1476971. Died 12/08/1942. Aged 21. 7/4 Maritime Regt. Son of P.O. James Stewart, R.N., and Annie Stewart, of Belfast. Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Panel 78
London Irish Rifles. Rifleman. 7011620. Date 12/08/1943. Age 29. Son of John and Mary J. Creaney, of Lurgan; husband to Dilys E. Creaney, of Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire. Catania War Cemetery, Sicily, Italy
Royal Irish Fusiliers. Fusilier. 7044534. Date 12/08/1943. Age 32. Son of Thomas and Hannah Kennedy; husband to Sarah S. Kennedy, of Whiteabbey, Co. Antrim. Catania War Cemetery, Sicily, Italy
+LINDSAY, Edward Workman
RAFVR. Squadron Leader. 74707. Died 12/08/1944. Aged 24. 224 Sqdn. Son of Cecil and Florance (Sis) Lindsay, of Lissue House, Lisburn. Runnymeade Memorial, Surrey. 502 (Ulster) Squadron WM, St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast
+McVEIGH, CHARLES JOSEPH
2nd Bn. Royal Ulster Rifles. Serjeant. 7013567. Died 12/08/1944. Aged 27. St Charles de Percy War Cemetery, Calvados, France. Dungannon
LAWSON, John George
RN. 1941-46. QUB.1948-52. Bachelor of Agriculture 1952. Civil Servant, Ministry of Agriculture, Northern Ireland. Born 12/08/1923. Son of QY Lawson, Ardnafinn, Strabane. Beech Hill, Arleston Dr., Omagh. Campbell College 2752
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