December 11 – Roll of Honour

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11 December 1942 – De Havilland DH.98 Mosquito FB Mk IVs of 105 Squadron at RAF Marham, Norfolk. None of the aircraft pictured survived the war, either being shot down or withdrawn due to heavy battle damage. Veterans in today’s Roll include Rebecca McCabe a WRNS on Caroline in Belfast in WW2, and Sir William Whitla, professor of medicine at Queen’s, who was a war physician. He was a generous benefactor endowing the halls at Methodist College and the university which bear his name.

Representing their comrades who died on this day

1916

+BANFORD, Charles
RMLI. Private. PLY/17001. Died of wounds 11/12/1916. Aged 21. Enrolled 21/08/1914. Whilst being numbered with the Plymouth Battalion, records show he was serving with the Deal Battalion, RMLI, when wounded with MEF at Gallipoli 25/02/1915 – 01/05/1915. It was a head wound caused by shrapnel. He was invalided to UK 07/05/1915 and discharged invalided on 03/11/1916. Born Belfast 27/04/1986. Son of J. Banford, Hutchinson St., Belfast. Husband to Maud Banford, Excise St., Belfast. Belfast City Cemetery. ADM 159/160/17001

1918

+McGARRY, James
RAF. Aircraftman 2nd Class, 186598. Died 11/12/1918. Aged 20. Son of John and Sarah J. McGarry, of 36, Parkview St., Belfast. Belfast (Miltown) Roman Catholic Cemetery

1941                             HM TRAWLER SHIRLEY ANN

Lady Shirley was requisitioned May 1940 and converted to an auxiliary patrol vessel. In January 1941 it was converted for anti-submarine duties and joined 31st. A/S Group at Gibraltar. It sank U-111 off Teneriffe in October. It was torpedoed by U-374 off Gibraltar.

+McCREADY, Ian Robert
RNPS. Stoker. LT/KX 115483. DSM. Died 11/12/1941. Age 30. HM Trawler Lady Shirley. In a previous action he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal – the second highest gallantry award for a rating. Son of Thomas and Annie McCready, Moyallen. Husband to Theresa McCready, Lurgan. Lowestoft Naval Memorial. Panel 7. Lurgan College WM. Lurgan WM.

+MITCHELL, Norman
Seaman. LT/JX 241380, HM Trawler Lady Shirley, Royal Naval Patrol Service. Died 11/12/1941. Aged 22. Torpedoed by U-374 off Gibraltar. Son of Robert and Mary Ann Mitchell, Lurgan. (Belfast Weekly Telegraph 26/12/1941). Lowestoft Naval Memorial, Panel 5. Lurgan WM

1941

+LENNOX, Thomas Hugh
Royal Artillery. Lance Bombardier. 1473074. Died 11/12/1941. Aged 38. 26 Bty., 9 H.A.A. Regt. Son of Hugh and Agnes Jane Lennox; husband of Mary Lennox, of Castledawson. Alexandria (Hadra) War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt.

+LOUDEN, David
Royal Artillery. Second Lieutenant. 156923. Died 11/12/1941. Aged 23. 3 Lt. A.A. Regt. Son of John McPhail Louden and Elaine Louden, of Dunmurry. Brookwood 1939 – 1945 Memorial, Surrey

1942

+McINTRYRE, Hugh
+RN. Leading Stoker.C/KX 93743. Died 11/12/1942. HMS Blean. Joined April 1939. On one previous occasion the ship he was in was torpedoed. Son of Mr and Mrs George McIntyre, Grafton St., Londonderry. (Derry Standard 21/09/1942. 30/12/1942. 03/05/1943, Belfast Weekly Telegraph 08/01/1943). Chatham Naval Memorial, Panel 61

1943

+YOUNG, William
RAFVR. Sergeant (Air Gunner). 1795688. Died 11/12/1943. Aged 19. Son of James and Emma Young, of Drumaheagles, Ballymoney. Bath (Haycombe) Cemetery, Somerset, United Kingdom

1944

+BUCKLEY, William
Royal Artillery. Gunner. 973089. Died 11/12/1944. 119 Lt. A.A. Regt. 
Husband of Maria Buckley, of Annaghmore, Co. Armagh. Mierlo War Cemetery. Noord-Brabant, Netherlands

+CHARLES, Edward Christopher
RAFVR. Sergeant. 2221730. Died 11/12/1944. Aged 24. 49 Sqdn. Son of Edward and Mary Charles, of Warrenpoint; husband to Joan Charles. Runnymeade Memorial, Panel 226, Surrey

VETERANS

AINLEY, John Francis
RN. Surgeon Captain. CBE, London Gazette 11/12/1945. Temporary Surgeon Lieutenant, Navy List 28/08/1919. MB QUB 1917.

BRYANS, R
WRNS. Leading Wren. Sisters serving in WAAF and ATS. Folly Lane, Armagh. (Ulster Gazette 11/12/1944).

McCABE, Rebecca
WRNS. Wren. HMS Caroline and Belfast Castle SDO. Joined up 1942. Served as a maintenance Wren attached to H.M.S. Caroline and after two years she was transferred to Belfast Castle S.D.O. Signal Distribution Office. A soloist in the Royal Naval Choir. Mother of Caroline Simmond. Born 31/08/1921, 59 Palmer Street, Belfast. Died 11/12/2006

Only two weeks into Rebecca’s time in HMS Caroline, came one of the highlights of her service. In June 1942, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother) visited Belfast on board HMS Phoebe. While King George inspected the Royal Navy, the Queen inspected the women at HMS Caroline. Wren Rebecca McCabe had the honour of being in the front row for the royal inspection, which was captured by Royal Naval photographers.

She was born at 59 Palmer Street, Belfast, Co. Antrim on 31/08/1921 and later moved to 71 Twaddell Avenue, Belfast, Co. Antrim. She attended Woodvale School in North Belfast until the age of 14 when she left to work for Mourne Clothing Company in 1936. The business was on the Oldpark Road. Rebecca’s job was rubbing soap along the selvedges of the material so that sewing machines would run faster. She earned 10/11½ – ten shillings and eleven and a half pence.

In 1938, she joined her sisters Sadie and Margaret at Ewart’s Linen Factory where they worked as pern winders. Rebecca became a warping apprentice and within two years was running her own machine. Warping was an intensive job; running linen thread from hundreds of spools through a reed onto beams. She would also have needed a keen eye to check selvedges and to watch for “slubs” or bumps or knots in the thread which required cutting out.

In 1941, Ewart’s Linen Factory was one of many buildings damaged in the Belfast Blitz. Afterwards, Rebecca McCabe signed up to the WRNS, working in Mackies Factory until her call up in 1942.

She found herself based at HMS Caroline from 1942-1944. She was a maintenance Wren, which encompassed many tasks. These included testing battery banks on trawlers, using hydrometers, and checking electrical contacts. While stationed at the Belfast base, she would also have gone out on depth charge practices. Many of these young women ended up with impaired hearing, requiring ear syringing after these exercises.

WHITLA, Sir William
War physician. RVH, Belfast 1914 – 18. Monaghan Diocesan School. QCB MB 1877. Knighted 1902. Senator, Royal University. President BMA. Professor Materia Medica and Therapeutics, QUB.

Sir William Whitla was one of the most significant figures in Ulster medicine of any era. He studied medicine at Queen’s College Belfast and in Dublin and Edinburgh, after which he joined the staff of the Belfast General Hospital, Frederick Street, Belfast (which received the Royal Charter in 1875) as Resident Medical Officer, for one year. He spent some time in St. Thomas’ Hospital, London. Between 1877 and 1882, when he became a consultant physician, he was Assistant Physician to the Belfast Charitable Society. About this time he took up an honorary appointment to the Belfast Hospital for Women and Children. In 1882 he was appointed Physician to the Belfast Royal Hospital in Frederick Street where he was to remain a visiting member of the staff, and later of the Royal Victoria Hospital, until 1918. In 1890 Whitla was appointed Professor of Materia Medica at Queen’s College, Belfast. He built an international reputation on several remarkably successful textbooks. The income from these, from his private practice and from private sources made him in his time probably one of the wealthiest professors on the staff; and much of his wealth and other assets he would eventually bequeath to Queen’s University though a number of bodies would eventually benefit from his considerable largesse. In 1909 was elected President of the British Medical Association having already been knighted in 1902 for distinction as author and doctor – this double distinction is relatively rare and Whitla was very proud of it. As Pro-Chancellor of Queen’s he represented the University in Parliament from 1918 to 1922.

From 1884 to 1906 he lived and practised at 8 College Square North, moving in that year to Lennoxvale, while retaining the professional house in College Square. He was appointed honorary physician to the King in Ireland in 1919. During his life his gifts to his profession included the Good Samaritan stained glass window in the Royal Hospital, and a building for the Ulster Medical Society. Whitla’s legacies to Ulster were certainly considerable. The Whitla Hall in Methodist College, Belfast, one of the leading secondary-level schools in the British Isles, was named for him, Whitla having been a governor of the school, appointed in 1906, remaining until his death in 1933, as well as a generous benefactor.. At Queen’s University, is another Whitla Hall, similarly provided for by Whitla to the amount of £35,000; its foundation stone was laid in 1939; the hall was completed in 1942, requisitioned by the government during the Second World War, and officially opened on 19 February, 1949.

In 1876 in London he married Miss Ada Bourne. He died at his home in Lennoxvale on 11 December 1933 and was buried in Belfast City Cemetery.

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2 Comments

  1. The death of L/Bdr Lennox is not recorded in the war diary of 26 HAA Bty, nor in that of 24 HAA Bty, the only batteries of 9th (Londonderry) HAA Regiment serving in Alexandria on that date. Since there were no Regia Aeronautica or Luftwaffe raids on Alex that day it may be assumed that he died of natural causes rather than enemy action.
    L/Bdr Thomas Hugh Lennox is commemorated on the Regimental War Memorial in St ColuCathedral, Londonderry.

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