Today’s Roll includes an account of a young RN officer lost in heavy seas. Five RAF men are among those remembered. Photo – Ovillers Military Cemetery: On 1 July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, the 8th Division attacked Ovillers and the 34th Division La Boisselle. There are 3439 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in the cemetery.
Representing their comrades who died on this day
RN. Lieutenant Commander. HMS Southampton. Died 19/01/1917. Age 28. Drowned in the North Sea in heavy weather. As well as Inst, he attended Eastman’s Royal Naval Academy, Winchester. He entered the Navy on 15/01/1903, joining HMS Britannia as a cadet. He passed out the following year a Chief Captain and also won the King’s Medal.
Ralph served in various ships on the China, Mediterranean, West African and Home Stations, before being promoted to Lieutenant on 15/7/1909 (with 6 “firsts”) and Lieutenant Commander on 15/07/1916.
On the outbreak of the war, he was serving in HMS Birmingham, which sunk the first German submarine (U15) on 09/08/1914. Ralph took part in the Battles of the Heligoland Bight (28/08/1914) and Dogger Bank (24/01/1915) before transferring to HMS Southampton (a 1912 Chatham Class, 2nd Class Cruiser early in 1916. On this ship he took part in the Battle of Jutland on 31/05/1916. Ralph was accidentally drowned in the North Sea 19/01/1917.
The following, written by Commander Stephen King-Hall, describes his death, in this extract from “A North Sea Diary 1914-1918”: “Last Friday morning, at about 7 a.m., when 100 miles east of May Island, the cover of the navel pipe carried away, and as we were plunging into a very considerable sea, about a hundred tons of water got down into the cable lockers. Our first lieutenant and navigator, Ralph Ireland, who was temporarily doing executive officer of the ship, went down to put a mat over the hole. The mate, the gunnery lieutenant, and three men were already on the forecastle. The ship dipped her nose into the sea, and scooped up a big sea which carried everyone off their feet. When it passed, ‘guns’ and the mate were lying in the breakwater only bruised, but of the others, nothing more was ever seen. Clad as they were in sweaters, sea-boots, and oilskins, they must have sunk at once in the sea that was running. An hour later we read the burial service in the waist, when at about the spot where they were lost. A driving snowstorm added to the almost unbearable melancholy of the service. Ralph Ireland, our Number 2, was a great friend of mine, with whom only a few hours before I had been yarning on the bridge, and but twelve hours before we had been rehearsing our parts together in a home-made revue we intended to produce. He had come to us from the Birmingham when that ship paid off. His death under such tragic circumstances together with the three sailors caused a deep gloom in the ship, where he was immensely popular. Ireland was a very lovable personality-brilliantly clever, a King’s medallist, an athlete, he was marked out for certain advancement in the Service. It was not to be, and within a few days of his twenty-eighth birthday the North Sea claimed him as part of the price of Admiralty.”
The Times reported his death as follows:
“Lt Com Ralph Ireland, whose death on active service is reported, has endeared himself to all who knew him, not only by his brilliant attainments, which gave promise of a career of great usefulness, but by his modesty and charm. No work came amiss to him, either of danger or steady application. His spontaneous gaiety and genuine unselfishness were a great asset in any community and his clean-minded, healthy outlook on life made it impossible to be long with him without feeling refreshed and thankful.”
The April 1917 edition of RBAI School News said this about Ralph: “Ralph, who was only in his 28th year, was the finest type of British naval officer, a sportsman and a gentleman. He was a man of wonderful bodily and mental elasticity. His career in the navy was one of exceptional brilliancy, and his progress, which was notably rapid, was due as much to his sterling character as to his first-rate ability. The gallant officer had really lived through this great testing time, and had faced the verities of life with resolution and undaunted courage. All Instonians regret that his short career, so full of promise and so full of achievement, has been ended.” Born 8/2/1888. Son of Adam Liddell Ireland, and Isabel Ireland (daughter of Rev William McHinch), Malone Park, Belfast. Brother of Denis Ireland, writer and broadcaster (Dictionary of Ulster Biography). Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Panel 24. Malone Park, Belfast. Elmwood – PCI RH. RBAI WM. IMR
RN. Able Seaman. P/SSX14757. Died 19/01/1940. H.M.S. Grenville. William Darragh from Cookstown served his apprenticeship to the joinery. He joined the Navy in 1934. After periods of service in other ships, he was transferred to HMS Grenville, a flotilla leader, and served on her prior to the outbreak of War. HMS Grenville sunk after striking a mine in the North Sea on 119/01/1940. William went down with his ship. Son of the late Thomas Darragh and Sarah Jane Darragh, Killymoon Street, Cookstown; husband to Catherine Darragh, Cookstown. Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Panel 38, Cookstown WM
+McCLURE, Thomas Christopher
RAFVR. Leading Aircraftman. 816021.Died 19/01/1940. Aged 24. 502 Sqn. Son of Thomas and Jane McClure of Belfast. Belfast City Cemetery
+MOORBY, Harold Christopher
RAFAAAF. Sergeant (Observer). 816074. Died 19/01/1940. 502 Sqdn. Was with Flying Officer Garrett (Pilot), Aircraftman Beattie and Leading Aircraftman McClure aboard Anson N5050/B when it crashed four miles east of Rhyl in a snowstorm. He was killed instantly with both McClure and Beattie later dying from injuries sustained in the crash. Knockbreda Cemetery
+LONGMORE, James Henry
RAF. Leading Aircraftman. 535291. Died 19/01/1941. Aged 23. 815 Sqdn. (serving in H.M.S. Illustrious). Son of John M. and Jennie Longmore, Belfast. Malta Memorial, Panel 2, Malta
RAFVR.Sergeant (Flight Engineer). 549930. Died 19/01/1942. Aged 29. 240 Sqdn. Son of William John and Jane Irvine, of Belfast. Hamnavoe Churchyard, Shetland,
RNVR. Lieutenant. Died 19/01/1942. SS Lady Hawkins. Son of David and Grace Douglas Jameson. Husband to Margery O G Jameson, Belfast. Chatham Naval Memorial, Panel 66. St John’s Parish Church, Newcastle, RH.
RAF. Flight Sergeant. 548743. DFM. Died 19/01/1943. Aged 27. 18 Sqdn. Son of Hugh and Mary Bartley, of Longford, Irish Republic. Malta Memorial. 502 (Ulster) Squadron WM, St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast
+ALLINGHAM, William George
RAFVR. Flight Sergeant.1798198. Died 19/03/1945. Age 28. 640 Sqd. Son of Robert and Margaret Hanna Allingham, Belfast. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Germany
WILSON, Malcolm R
RAMC. Lt. Colonel. BEM. MiD. QUB MB 1904. Lieutenant RAMC, Jan 1907. Captain, July 1910. Major, April 1918. Lt Colonel, April 1931. Served India 1904 – 14, France and Belgium 1914 – 15. Invalided. Gallipoli 1915 – 16. Egypt EEF 1916 – 19. Post-war, Egypt, Gibraltar, India to 1934. CO BM Hospital Agra and Jubbalpore. Born 1879, Cushendall. Son of John and Margaret Wilson, George St, Ballymena. Died 19/01/1963, Plymouth
19 Jan 1940 – Destroyer HMS Grenville sank after striking a German mine in the mouth of the Thames Estuary. 118 of her crew were rescued, 77 were lost.
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