88 years after its original formation, 502 (Ulster) Squadron, RAF Reserve, reformed at Aldergrove in 2013. There is a Memorial in St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast, naming those from the squadron who died in WW2. Twelve names on today’s Roll reflect the variety of service given by servicemen from NI in Gallipoli, France, Germany, Malta, and Singapore. Today is the anniversary of the surrender of Singapore to the Japanese forces.
Representing their comrades who died on this day
Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. 1st Btn. Private. 9836. Died of wounds 15/02/1917. Aged 23. Robert, from Percy Street, Belfast, enlisted in March 1910 and served with the Inniskillings pre-war at Tientsin, China and Secunderabad India, He embarked with the Battalion and took part in the landing at Cape Helles, Gallipoli in April 1915, serving there until January 1916. He moved to France with the Btn. and fought at the Somme where the 1st Inniskillings sustained 549 casualties on 1 July. Robert was wounded, probably at Carnoy on the Somme in January 1917 and succumbed to his wounds at a Military Hospital at Rouen. He was pre-deceased by his younger brother James who was Killed In Action with the 2nd Bn. Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers at Festubert on 15 May 1915. St. Sever Cemetery Extension Rouen, Seine-Maritime, France
+FINLAY, Samuel Hanna
Canadian Infantry, 8th Btn. (Manitoba Regt.). Private. 829240. Killed by shellfire in the ‘vicinity of St. Emile’ on 15/02/1918. Born at Cromkill on 02/10/1889. Son of sawyer William Finlay and Mary Jane McCartney, later of Ballee (1901) and eventually of 142, Queen St., Ballymena, Co. Antrim. Aix-Noulette Communal Cemetery Extension.in Wellington Street Presbyterian Church, PCI RH
+BROWN, Howard John
RN. Able Seaman. DEMS Gunner. D/JX 181631. Died 15/02/1941. Age 30. SS Alnmoor – Defensively Equipped Merchant Vessel. Hit by U 123. Son of William and Margaret Brown, Belfast. Husband to Elizabeth Brown, Donnybrook St, Belfast. Father of two children. (Belfast Weekly Telegraph 15/03/1941.) Plymouth Naval Memorial, Panel 46
+DEMPSTER, William Alexander
RN. Leading Stoker. C/KX79089. Died 15/02/1942. Age 32. HMS Cleopatra was heavily bombed as she broke the blockade around Malta. John was one of 15 killed in the action. He had 14 years’ service. Younger brother Hector serving with RASC. Son of Frederick James Dempster and Eliza Jane Dempster, Ballymacarron Toye, Belfast. (Belfast Weekly Telegraph 06/03/1942). Malta (Capuccini) Naval Cemetery. Killyleagh WM
RAF. Leading Aircraftman. 632213. Died 15/02/1942. Age 23. Son of Mr. and Mrs. John Lamont, Ballymoney; Stepson of Lena Lamont, Ballymoney. Singapore Memorial, Column 416, Singapore.
+McBRIDE, John Robert
RAF. Sergeant. 538895. Died 15/02/1942 Age 27. Son of John And Annie Mcbride, of Enniskillen. Singapore Memorial, Column 415, Singapore
+BLAIR, Ernest Bramwell
RAFVR. Sergeant.1796405. Died 15/02/1944. 578 Sqdn. He was on a bombing raid to Berlin when his aircraft crashed due to engine trouble. Ernest was the son of John and Martha Blair, Portadown. He had been a member of 1st Portadown BB. Runnymede Memorial, Panel 225
+McCONNELL, David Whiteside
RAFVR. Pilot Officer. 158915. DFC. Died 15/02/1944. Age 23. Son of David And Ruby Georgina Mcconnell, Newry, Co. Down. Northern Ireland. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, Germany
+HUME, John French
RAFVR. Corporal. 297832. Died 15/02/1946. Aged 44. Husband of Nancy Hume of Belfast. Dundonald Cemetery
RAMC. Lt Colonel. QCB MD 1876. Surgeon Captain 05/02/1881. Served Sudan and S Africa. Retired list, Lydd 1905. Re-engaged from 04/04/1915. Born 21/12/1855, Caledon. Son of John Archer. Died 15/02/1935, Lydd, Kent
RN. Gunner. PoW. In SS Iceland carrying a cargo of 962 tons of oranges from Seville to Bristol. She had been part of convoy HG53, but had suffered a major engine failure and was adrift when Hipper approached on 12/02/1941. She took off Iceland’s crew and didn’t pursue the convoy because she was running low in fuel. She took a course towards Brest. However, she later made radar contact with what she thought was HG53 and attacked. It was in fact another convoy SLS64 from Freetown to GB which did not have accompanying warships. It was then ordered by its commodore to disperse, and in the melee which followed several ships were sunk within an hour and many men were in the sea. Three of the merchantmen fired back and one struck Hipper’s tower mast. In this engagement Hipper sank seven ships and damaged three more. In all 110 men died in the sunken ships; 107 were rescued by two of the convoy’s ships which courageously had remained at the scene. The skipper of Hipper (Meisel) knew that British warships and planes were heading his way and he was running low in fuel and ammunition, so Hipper left the scene and skirted the Spanish coast to Brest arriving 15/02/1941. Harry Malcolm was a PoW for 4 years in camps in Germany and Poland. Father of Rev. Mercia Malcolm.
Royal Irish Rifles. 12th Battalion. Rifleman. 6214. Died 15/02/1919. Alexander was born at Mallusk, Co. Antrim on 23/03/1898 and later moved to Templepatrick. He enlisted in the 12th RIR, aged 17, in May 1915 and embarked for France in October that year. He was wounded in action three times and discharged with the Silver War Badge on 08/02/1919. He died a week later in the Flu Pandemic. Not commemorated by CWGC. Believed to be buried in St Patrick’s C of I Templepatrick
15/02/1918 – Promotion for Lisburn officer
Mr. Tom Malcomson, who has seen much hard service at the front with the Manchester Regiment, has been advanced to the rank of captain. He was commissioned on 20th July 1915, and promoted to the rank of lieutenant on 1st September 1916. His brother Norrie, who is an officer in the Irish Rifles, has also seen (with the Ulster Division) lively doings in the firing line. These officers are sons of Mr. T. Malcomson, manager, Ulster Bank, Lisburn. – The Lisburn Standard
15/02/1942 – The fall of Singapore to the Japanese Army.
85,000 Commonwealth troops become POWs. Churchill calls it the worst wartime disaster in British history. The fall of Singapore clearly illustrated the way Japan was to fight in the Far East – a combination of speed and savagery that only ended with the use of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in August.
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