February 18 – Roll of Honour

The Harland & Wolff built cruiser HMS Penelope was sunk this day in 1944. Men from Ballyclare, Belfast, Londonderry, and Templepatrick were lost in this ship which was attacked so often it was nicknamed “HMS Pepperpot”.

Representing their comrades who died on this day

1920

+McILROY, Samuel
Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), 9th Btn. Acting Sergeant. 17614 & 63215. Died of pulmonary tuberculosis on 18/02/1920. Aged 25. He is not recorded as a war fatality by the CWGC. He had been discharged from the army on the 22/09/1919. Born 10/07/1894 at Fenagh, Craigs, Cullybackey. Son of Henry McIlroy and Jane Neilly (also Neely).  In 1911, Samuel McIlroy appears to have been a farm servant working for the Simpson family, Ballyloughan, Ballymena. His brother, 23187 Private Henry (Harry) McIlroy, 11th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers,  was killed in 1917. High Kirk (2nd Ballymena) Presbyterian Church, RH

1940

+ENGLISH, William
RN. Cook (S). C/MX 52431. Died 18/02/1940. Age 22. HMS Daring. Son of Thomas and Mrs. English, Jellicoe Ave., Belfast. Reported as missing in Belfast Weekly Telegraph 02/03/1940. Chatham Naval Memorial. Panel 39.

1944 – HMS PENELOPE

HMS Penelope was an Arethusa-class light cruiser. She was built by Harland & Wolff in Belfast. Her keel was laid down on 30/05/1934. She was launched on 15/10/1935 and commissioned on 13/11/1936. On wartime service with Force K, she was holed so many times by bomb fragments that she acquired the nickname “HMS Pepperpot”.

On 18/02/1944, Penelope, under the command of Captain G. D. Belben, was leaving Naples to return to the Anzio area when she was torpedoed by the German U-boat 410. A torpedo struck her in the after engine room and was followed sixteen minutes later by another torpedo that hit in the after boiler room, causing her immediate sinking; 417 of the crew, including the captain, went down with the ship and 206 survived. A memorial plaque commemorating those lost is in St Ann’s Church, HM Dockyard, Portsmouth.

+GOULD, Thomas
RN. AB. P/JX 283876. Died 18/02/1944. HMS Penelope. Three brothers serving, one in RN. Son of David Gould, Belgrave St., Belfast. (Belfast Weekly Telegraph 17/03/1944). Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Panel 82

+HEWITT, Kenneth
RN. Petty Officer. Six years’ service. P/KX 93267. Died 18/02/1944. Age 24. HMS Penelope. Son of Harold and Esther Hewitt Fountain St., Londonderry; husband of Kathleen Hewitt, Londonderry. (Belfast Weekly Telegraph 17/03/1944). Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Panel 85

+HUNTER, William John
RN. Able Seaman. P/SSX 21424. Enlisted 1937. Died 18/02/1944. Age: 23. HMS Penelope. Torpedoed near Anzio. Brother Robert served with Airborne Forces. Born Logwood Rd., Ballyclare. Son of John and Lavinia Mary Hunter, Ballyclare. Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Panel 82

+TAYLOR, Samuel Johnston
RN. Able Seaman. P/JX 198151. Died: 18/02/1944. Age: 27. HMS Penelope. Son of Thomas and Mary Taylor, The Kennels, Dundrod, Templepatrick. (Belfast Weekly Telegraph 24/03/1944). Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Glenavy WM. Lisburn WM

1944

+IRVINE, Joseph
Irish Guards. 1st Btn. Guardsman. 2719239. Died 18/02/1944. From Tempo. Anzio War Cemetery, Italy

NOTES

18/02/1915 – William Brooke Purdon RAMC was awarded a Military Cross. He rose to Major General. President of the QUB Services Club in 1948. Born in Belfast 28/11/1881. Educated at RBAI, MCB and Queen’s College graduating in medicine in 1906

18/02/1918 – Archibald Fullerton, RAMC, Major, was awarded a Bar to his Military Cross. He was later to receive a further Bar. He was a QUB grad. Son of Elizabeth Fullerton, Gortinegin, Gortgranagh, Co Tyrone.

18/02/1943 – at the Berlin Sportpalast, Reich Minister Goebbels announced the implementation of total war in Germany. The speech was the first public admission by the Nazi leadership that Germany faced serious dangers.

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