November 15 – Roll of Honour


Today’s Roll includes two WW2 Fleet Air Arm pilots, one of whom had been a member of 502 (Ulster) Sqdn, RAF. The two veterans remembered today both have Canadian links. One served with the NI Horse in WW1, and the other was the first person from Canada to single-handedly sail the Atlantic in both directions. He was born in Portrush and served as a naval surgeon in WW2. Photo – Ulster Gunners firing Royal Salute at Hillsborough

Representing their comrades who died on this day


+AGNEW, Joseph
Royal Munster Fusiliers, 2nd Bn. Private. 7516. Died 15/11/1914. Larne. Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium


+GRAHAM, William J
RMLI. Private. RND. France. Died 13/11/1916. Embarked Royal Marine Brigade 05/12/1915 per HMT Northlands” arrived Alexandria 17/12/1915. Parents lived in Snugville St., Belfast. IMR. ADM/171


+McGAHEY, John
Royal Irish Fusiliers, 2nd Bn. Private. 15897. Died 15/11/1917. Age 22. Son of Andrew and Ellen McGahey, 4 Davy’s Row, Ballycastle. Kantara War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt


165th Infantry Regiment (better known as the 69th New York). Sergeant. Died 15/10/1918. Age 23. Born in County Tyrone, son of Michael and Catherine Donnelly (nee Mooney) of Drumallan. He sailed from Derry on 14/04/1914, bound for Newark, New Jersey. When the United States entered the war in April 1917, James Donnelly was eligible for conscription, and when the 42nd (Rainbow) Division was activated in August 1917, he was drafted to Company B of the 165th Infantry Regiment. Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery, Romagne, Meuse, France.

Machine Gun Corps (Infantry). Private. 152596. Died 15/11/1918. Dundonald Cemetery


+COUSINS, Austin
RAF. Aircraftman 1st Class. 653086. Died 15/11/1940. Aged 22. Son of Thomas and Margaret Cousins, of Brackagh. Clogherney Presbyterian Churchyard, County Tyrone. Dungannon WM


+BEGGS, Henry William
FAA. Lieutenant (A). Died 15/11/1942. Age 25. In May, 1939 he joined the Fleet Air Arm. In June 1940 he was attached to the RAF where he converted onto Hurricanes and was posted to No 151 Squadron at Martlesham Heath on 1 July. On 14 August he destroyed a Messerschmitt 109 over Kent but during an engagement with further 109s the following day he was shot down over Dover, crash landing near Folkestone. Only slightly wounded, he returned to the FAA shortly afterward and in January 1942 he joined 883 Squadron which embarked on the escort carrier HMS Avenger in May 1942. Tragically, he was lost on 15/11/1942 when Avenger was sunk to the west of Gibraltar by one torpedo from U-155 which detonated against the bomb store causing a massive explosion as a result of which the ship broke up and sank within minutes. Eldest son of Mr. J A and Mrs. Beggs of Irvinestown, Co Fermanagh. Husband to Rosemary Beggs, Chiswick, Middlesex. Lee-on-Solent Memorial, Bay 3. Enniskillen WM

+BRENNAN, James Francis
RN. Steward. Died at sea 15/11/1942. His effects valued at £264 10s were gifted in his will to Margaret Brennan, a spinster. (Will abstract PRONI). Rushfield Avenue Belfast.

+ INSKIP, Kenneth Frederick George
RAFVR. Flying Officer. 126516. Died 15/11/1942. Aged 27. 46 Sqdn. Son of John Edward and Constance M. Inskip; husband to Alice Margaret Inskip, of Knock, Belfast. Alamein Memorial, Egypt. 502 (Ulster) Squadron WM, St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast

+NORRIS, John McGookin
HMS Caroline. RN. ERA Fourth Class. P/MX 89392. Died 15/11/1942. Age 21. HMS Algerine . Leader of the 12th Minesweeping Flotilla which was posted to the Mediterranean to assist with Operation Torch. In 1942, after a successful mine clearing operation off Bougie, she was torpedoed by the Italian submarine Asciaanghi, causing Algerine to sink, leaving only eight survivors. John had there years’ service in RN. Formerly worked for D Scott and Son, Corporation St., Belfast. A brother-in-law was lost a year previously serving in the Merchant Navy. Son of Frederick James and Catherine Norris, of Belfast. (Belfast Weekly Telegraph 11/12/1942). Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Panel 6

+SMITH, Thomas Armstrong Smith
RNVR. Lieutenant (E). Died 15/11/1942. Age 37. HMS Avenger, an aircraft carrier. Thomas served his apprenticeship with the Electrical Department in Harland and Wolff. He was with the Union Castle Line from 1926. Son of Mrs. Margaret Smith, Kincora, Cregagh Rd., Belfast. (Belfast Weekly Telegraph 25/12/1942). Liverpool Naval Memorial, Panel 3


+HORNER, Samuel Young
Royal Army Service Corps. Driver. T/185532. Died 15/11/1945. Aged 45. Son of John and Agnes Horner of Belfast, husband to Helen Horner of Belfast. Dundonald Cemetery

RAF. Corporal. 631441. Died 15/11/1945. Aged 26. Son of Thomas William and Sarah Jane Montgomery. Dundonald Cemetery


CUNNINGHAM, Joseph Irwin
RNVR. Surgeon Lt. Cmdr. RNVR, MBE (Military). He served on destroyers and cruisers during the Battle of the Atlantic, North Russian Convoys, and the Mediterranean. He was decorated by King George VI for heroism at Flensburg, where the ammunition dump exploded a few days after the war ended. As a physician, he put his life in great danger to save the lives of others, who shortly before had been his enemies. Following VE Day he was reassigned to the Pacific theatre. He was en route when the war ended, but as a result made his first visit to Victoria, BC. Post-war he worked in Newfoundland and the wilds of northern Manitoba, Hudson Bay and Resolute Island. Born only a few yards from the sea, he always loved the ocean and sailing. He sailed single-handed across the Atlantic in 1952 (westward) and 1957 (eastward) in his 25 1/2 foot boat, Icebird, becoming the first Canadian and only third in the world to do so in both directions. At the end of the fifties he “settled down” as one of the doctors and a member of the diplomatic corps in various Canadian Embassies overseas. In Vienna, Austria, he met his beloved wife, Edith, whom he married in 1958 in Salzburg. Their first home was on the aptly named Paradise Walk in London. After moves to Germany, Finland, Holland, Austria and Scotland, and now with four sons, they settled in Victoria in 1972. He had a strong faith and loved to serve as an Elder in the Presbyterian Church of Canada. He was described as, “A wonderful father, loving husband, distinguished veteran, sailing pioneer, respected elder, man of humility, integrity and great faith.” Died 15/11/2009. Born Portrush 14/07/1916 to William Irwin Cunningham and Margaret Cunningham (nee Irwin). MB BCh QUB 1938.

JOHNSTON, Benjamin
An Irish-Canadian who served with the North Irish Horse. Benjamin Johnston was born on 20 April 1880 at Stranorlar, County Donegal, the first of at least five children of medical practitioner and surgeon Henry Maturin Johnston and his wife, Mellicent Agnes. He was educated at Portora Royal School, Enniskillen. He served in the Boer War in the 54th (2nd Belfast) Company, 13th (Irish) Battalion, Imperial Yeomanry and was wounded at Lindley in May 1900. He was later discharged as no longer fit for service.
Johnston then emigrated to Canada, where he worked as a rancher at Priddis, near Calgary, Alberta. On 10 /04/1916 he enlisted at Calgary in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. He embarked for England on 29 June with the 13th Regiment, Canadian Mounted Rifles, arriving a week later. There he was taken on strength of the reserve regiment of Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) at Shorncliffe.

Two months later he applied for a commission in the North Irish Horse. He was sent to the No.1 Cavalry Cadet Squadron at Netheravon on 06/12/1917. On 17/04/1917 Johnston was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant and posted to the North Irish Horse reserve regiment at Antrim. There he remained until 30/01/1918 when he was sent to France to join the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment.

In February-March 1918 the 1st North Irish Horse was dismounted and converted to a corps cyclist regiment. This left around a quarter of the officers and men of the regiment surplus to requirements. Between 1 and 13 March, nine officers and 66 other ranks left the regiment, all but three of the latter reporting for duty at the Machine Gun Base Depot at Camiers. However, following heavy losses in the German offensive at the end of March, most were attached as reinforcements to regular cavalry units of the 1st Cavalry Division. The war diary of the 9th (Queen’s Royal) Lancers noted on 3 April that six officers of the North Irish Horse joined the regiment, one of those being 2nd Lieutenant Johnston.

On 17 October 1918 Johnston was promoted to lieutenant.

After the Armistice, the 9th Lancers served at Düren in Germany as part of the Army of Occupation. The regiment’s war diary notes that Johnston was hospitalised there between 12 and 30 January 1919. On 3 March he was demobilised, and on 1 April the following year, he relinquished his commission in the North Irish Horse.
After the war, Johnston returned to Calgary, Canada. He died on 15/11/1946.

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