February 17 – Roll of Honour

Sixteen NI servicemen are recalled today. A Bangor recipient of the Arctic Star recollects the hospitality of HMS Bluebell just before she was sunk by a U-boat off Murmansk. A naval airman with family links from New Zealand back to Moneymore is resting and remembered in Cookstown. Photo – Catania War Cemetery

Representing their comrades who died on this day


+CONLON, Thomas
Royal Irish Fusiliers, 10th Btn. Private. 22639. Died 17/02/1916. Aged 17. Son of Robert and Margaret Conlon of Ballyworkan, Portadown. He was born in Benburb about 1899. The 1911 census shows Thomas as a 14-year-old labourer. He was living with the family at Mourneview Street in Portadown. He enlisted in Portadown. Loughgall Old Cemetery. Portadown WM


+COWAN, William John
RNR. AB. 5266B. HMT Hawk. Age 31 Killed in action with submarine 17/02/1917. Aged 31. Son of Thomas and Margaret Cowan, Parkmount Street, Belfast. Portsmouth Naval Memorial

RND,  Royal Marine Light Infantry,1st Royal Marine Btn. Private. PLY/16877. Died 17/02/1917. He enlisted in Belfast on 13/08/1914. He was a labourer and he was born in Galgorm Street, Ballymena on 28/10/1894.  The family were still there in 1901 but were living in Shankill, Belfast by 1911. His sister, Mrs. Maggie S. Quigg, lived at 128 Sugarfield St., Belfast, later 28 Kendal St. Belfast. One of his brothers, John Steen Hamilton, died while serving with 3rd Bn. Canadian Infantry. Queens Cemetery, Bucquoy, France.


+BAXTER, Samuel
RNR. Seaman. 1319C. HMS Wellington. Also served in HMT Star of the East. Died Plymouth Hospital 17/02/1918. Aged 38. Husband of Bridget Baxter, Portland St., Larne Harbour, Larne. Ford Park Cemetery, Plymouth. Larne WM


+THOMPSON, Thomas Martin
RAF. Leading Aircraftman. 525225. Died 17/02/1940. Born 09/01/1915, he was the son of William John Thompson of Killyleagh, Co. Down. Bienvillers Military Cemetery, Pas-de-Calais, France. Killyleagh WM


+CUNNINGHAM, Isaac Henry
RAFVR. Sergeant. 1072712. Died 17/02/1942. Aged 21. Family memorial states he was killed in Normandy. Son of Isaac and Margaret Cunningham of Burren. Clonallan Church of Ireland Churchyard

+McKEE, Albert
RAAF. Aircraftman 2nd Class. 1123750. Died 17/02/1942. Aged 30. 450 (R.A.A.F.) Sqdn. Son of James and Frances Maria McKee, of Newtownstewart, Co. Tyrone. Halfaya Sollum War Cemetery, Egypt. QUB WM


+BAYNE, Alan Miller Cameron
RN. Petty Officer Airman. FX76845. FAA, 754 Squadron. Died 17/02/1943. Age 23. FAA 754 Squadron was based at HMS Condor, a Royal Naval Air Station, at Arbroath. Died in an air crash along with Petty Officer Airman Allen. Son of William James Bayne, and of Selina Bayne, of Tinwald, Canterbury, New Zealand, and formerly of Tamlaghtmore, Moneymore. Cookstown New Cemetery. First Cookstown PCI – RH. Cookstown WM.


Royal Artillery. Lance Bombardier. 3908033. Died 17/02/1944. Aged 30. 312 Bty., 90 Lt. A.A. Regt. Son of William E. and Mary Ellen Williams; husband to Annie Josephine Williams, of Londonderry. Anzio War Cemetery, Italy


+STERLING, Henry (Harry)
RAFVR. Aircraftman 2nd Class. 1906810. Died 17/02/1946 at Walsall General Hospital. Aged 20. Son of Thomas and Sarah Sterling of 11 Matchett Street, Belfast. Belfast City Cemetery, Glenalina Section


JENNINGS, Frederick

RAF. Leading aircraftman. Served as a radar technician with 320 (Netherlands) Squadron.

Frederick Jennings, aged 90, was one of 31 veterans of D-Day from N Ireland, who was presented with The Legion d’Honneur at Thiepval Barracks in Lisburn, on 17/02/2016 (Belfast Telegraph).

320 (Netherlands) Squadron operated over France before and after the D-Day landings. Part of the main body of the squadron was transported in a tank landing ship to a beach near Dunkirk a few weeks after D-Day.

Recalling his service, Frederick said, “Well I was in a RAF squadron, operated from France, Belgium, Holland, and Germany. Part of the tactical airforce, we used to bomb the Germans frequently, mainly miss them.

“It was a Dutch squadron, They were short of people so the RAF lent them people like me.

“I joined the air force in 1943 and after leaving radar school I went straight to 320 squadron till the war finished and then for my sins I was transferred to India.
“It’s very difficult in that my memories are more detached, you never came face-to-face with a German in an aeroplane. It was all very distant, but it was well organised unlike some of the things that went wrong.

“The particular squadron I was on was very good, the aircraft were extremely reliable.

“Very, very few crashed, the bombing was reasonably accurate and well-planned and organised. On the whole it worked very well.”

MAIRS, William James Mairs
Private.19667. 11th (Service) Battalion Royal Irish Rifles (South Antrim Volunteers). William, from Craigs, Cullybackey, embarked for France with an advance party of the battalion on 03/10/1915. He was wounded at the Somme in 1916 and on recovery was transferred to an Area Employment Company of the Labour Corps. Due to the shortage of manpower in 1918, William’s Company was transferred to active service with 13th (Service) Battalion Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding) Regiment. He remained with this battalion until transferred to Class Z Army Reserve on 17/02/1919.

MURRAY, Thomas
Rifleman 18/783 12th Royal Irish Rifles. Thomas from Templepatrick, Co. Antrim enlisted in 1915 aged 16. He initially served with 8th and 10th RIR before transferring to 12th in Feb 1918. Saw action at Cambrai and St Quentin. Demobilised Feb 1919.


17/02/1915 – Two RAMC officers who were graduates of QUB were Mentioned in Despatches. They were –

BARBOUR, John Humphrey
RAMC. Major. MiD 17/02/1915. French decorations. Shrewsbury School. QCB 1893. MB 1900, BCh, BAO. Lieutenant RAMC 29/01/1901, Captain 29/01/1904, Major 19/01/1913. Served South Africa 1901-02, Halifax, Nova Scotia 1903 – 05, India 1908 – 13, BEF France 1914 – 19. Son of Humphrey Barbour. Died 20/10/1944.

BEATTY, Martyn Cecil
RAMC. Lt. Colonel. MiD 17/02/1915. SA Institute, Belfast. QCB/Edinburgh University. MB 1900, BCh, DPH 19003, RCPSI 1903. Lieutenant RAMC 27/06/1901. Captain 27/06/1904. Major 27/03/1913. Lt. Colonel 06/08/1915. Served in South Africa 1902, India 1903 – 09, BEF France 1914 – 16. East Africa 1916 – 19, Egypt 1920 – 21, India 1921 0 24, BAOR 1924 – 29. Son of Rev. John and Mrs Mary Beatty, Ballycopeland. Died 01/06/1945, Evesham, Worcs. RCSI RH

17/02/1922 – The Royal Air Force Ireland (Gp Capt I.M. Bonham-Carter) was formed. The life of this command was short and it was disbanded in 1923.

17/02/1940 – The Altmark incident was a naval incident of World War II between British destroyers and the German tanker Altmark, which happened on 16–17 February 1940. It took place in what were, at that time, neutral Norwegian waters. Onboard the Altmark were some 300 allied prisoners (officially internees), whose ships were sunk by the pocket battleship Graf Spee in the Southern Atlantic Ocean. British naval forces cornered the tanker and later the destroyer Cossack attacked the German ship near the Jossingfjord and freed all the prisoners, killing eight German seamen with firearms and wounding ten others, five of them seriously. A British and a Norwegian sailor were also seriously wounded in the action. Germany claimed that the attack was a grave violation of international law and of Norwegian neutrality.

17/02/1945 – Corvette HMS Bluebell was torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U-711 off Murmansk. Only one man survived from her complement of 86. Reginald Denis McCLELLAND, from Bangor, Co. Down, on the presentation of the Arctic Star, recalled, “During a convoy, HMS Bluebell, which was a frigate, came alongside and the crew were exceptionally talented and they put a supper on for us and it was most enjoyable, but unfortunately on leaving it had gone ahead to sweep for submarines and it was torpedoed, and of the 93 men on board only one survived. So it was very personal having met quite a few of the crew that night before.” From Bangor, Co. Down

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