December 31 – Roll of Honour

On This Day in 1918, William Leefe Robinson VC died. He was the first to shoot down a German airship over Britain and received the Victoria Cross. Months later he was later shot down and taken prisoner. After the war, he was repatriated but, weakened, contracted the Spanish flu. OTD in 1944 there was quite a good party in 38 Irish Brigade HQ in Italy. See here –

Brigadier Scott, 38 Irish Brigade, Italy, 31 December 1944, wrote

”On New Year’s Eve, we somehow drifted into quite a riotous party at Brigade HQ. I was rung up after midnight by the General, who, overcome by the thought of many previous Hogmanies, was celebrating in Highland style at Divisional Headquarters.

“After exchanging the compliments of the season, he invited me to listen to rival music played down the telephone by a piper of the Argylls. Members of the 8th Argylls joined our party & feeling that if they could not find a Scottish party, an Irish one was the next best thing.

“At midnight, the Bosche also decided that something was necessary to mark the occasion and he fired off everything he had straight into the air. It was a magnificent display of fireworks and much appreciated by both sides.”

Representing their comrades who died on this day

1918

+MILLIKEN, James
Royal Irish Rifles, 12th Btn., attached Royal Flying Corps. 2nd Lieutenant. Died 31/12/1918. Age 26. He was employed as a motor mechanic when he enlisted, serving under the name Milligan. He had previously been a member of the Queen’s University Training Corps and at the time of enlistment, was living at “Oatlands”, Carnmoney. He initially served with the Royal Engineers (Inland Water Transport) and the 1st Royal Irish Rifles. He embarked for France on 29/09/1916 and was appointed to a temporary commission with the 20th Royal Irish Rifles on 15/10/1917. A medical report dated 23/06/1918 stated that James had been “blown up twice between March 21st and 31st 1918. He was 9 days in No. 2 Stationary Hospital. He has been through the most heavy fighting.” He was killed in an aeroplane crash at Turnberry, Scotland and is buried in Ballylinney Old Graveyard, Northern Ireland. James was born on 24/07/1892, the son of Samuel and Hessie G Millikin, Ballyclare and later of “Scouthush”, Carrickfergus. QUB WM

1939

+DEMPSEY, Robert
2nd Bn. Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. Private. 2967616. Died 31/12/1939. Aged 40. Son of Robert and Margaret Dempsey, of Ballymena. Kranji War Cemetery, Singapore. West Presbyterian Church, Ballymena RH

1942

+CRANSTON, William
RN. Steward. D/LX 28347. Died 31/12/1942. Age 25. HMS Bramble. Lost on a Russian convoy. One year’s service. Prior to joining up he had been employed for 11 years by the Milford Clothing Company. Father of two small children. Husband to Eleanor Cranston, Moscow St., Belfast. Son of David and Rachel Cranston, Belfast. (Belfast Weekly Telegraph 29/01/1943). Plymouth Naval Memorial, Panel 72

1944

+McCONNELL, Thomas
Royal Artillery. 7 Coast Regt. Gunner. 6977741. Died 31/12/1944. Aged 26. Son of James and Jeannie McConnell, of Londonderry. Kanchanaburi War Cemetery. Thailand

+MOORE, David
RAF. Flying Officer. 55507. Died 31/12/1944. Aged 28. Son of William and Mary Moore, of Belfast. Family headstone, Kilroot graveyard.

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1 Comment

  1. Gunner Thomas McConnell was originally a Royal Inniskilling Fusilier. His wartime unit, 7th Coast Regiment RA, was first formed on 1 April 1933 from elements of Malaya Coast Defences, as 7th Heavy Brigade RA until brigades RA became regiments (in September 1938).
    The initial orbat was 11 Heavy Battery and 7 Anti-Aircraft Battery. The AA bty, however, was transferred to 3 AA Bde RA on 1 February 1934 and it wasn’t until 31 December 1937 that 31 Hy Bty was formed and brigaded. On 29 January 1938, 5 (Singapore) Hy Bty, Hong Kong & Singapore Royal Artillery (HKSRA) joined while 7 (Singapore) Hy Bty HKSRA was formed and brigaded on the same day,
    In September 1939 the orbat changed with 5 (S) Hy Bty HKSRA leaving and 8 (S) Hy Bty HKSRA joining. The following month 8 Hy Bty became independent but was later in 11th Coast Regiment RA.
    On 14 December 1949 the Regiment was redesignated as 7th Coast Regiment RA. With RHQ, 31 Coast Bty and 7 (S) Coast Bty HKSRA, the Regiment was lost to the Japanese and was officially placed in suspended animation. Gunner McConnell became a PW of the Japanese.

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