February 20 – Roll of Honour

Amongst those remembered today from WW2 are crew members of HMS Warwick from Londonderry, Armagh and Belfast, and a Battle of Brittain pilot from Islandmagee. Veterans include North Irish Horse and an RN Surgeon Probationer from WW1 who also served with RAMC in WW2. Photo of Australian National War Memorial, Canberra.

Representing their comrades who died on this day


+DAVID, William
Welsh Regiment. 1st Bn. Private. 10564. Died 20/02/1915. Aged 20. Son of Mary Ann David, of 13, Bond St., Waterside, Londonderry. Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium


+GRAHAM, James Alexander
Royal Irish Rifles, 15th Btn. Rifleman. 12840. Died 20/02/1916. Aged 25. Son of Martha Graham, of 14, Groomsport St., Belfast, and the late Hugh Graham. Sucrerie Military Cemetery, Colincamps, Somme, France


+WILSON, William Oliver
RAMC. Captain. Attached Natal Carabiniers. Died 20/02/1917. B.A., 1907; M.B., B.Ch., B.A.O., 1912. Born 1886, Co Fermanagh. Brother of John Hugh Wilson who served and died shortly after the war. Sons of Mr and Mrs John Wilson, Northern Bank House, Ballymena. First Ballymena PCI RH, Family headstone, Dunluce Presbyterian Churchyard, Bushmills.


+McADAM, John
RAFVR. Sergeant (Pilot). 748076. Died 20/02/1941, 41 Sqdn. He took part in the Battle for Brittain. Born in Gillingham, Kent on 21/03/1919 to Northern Irish parents, his father being in the Army there. He grew up in Whitehead and was educated at Whitehead Public Elementary School and RBAI. In April 1939 he joined the RAFVR and learned to fly at No 24 E&RFTS.

On being called up in September 1939, he continued his flying training in England and on 22/06/1940 he joined No 41 Squadron at RAF Catterick as a Sergeant (Pilot), having been introduced to the Spitfire only a couple of days earlier.

Flying from RAF Hornchurch on 7 September, in engagements with Luftwaffe bombers and their escorting fighters during the course of an air raid on London, John claimed to have shot down three enemy aircraft including a Dornier DO17. However, damage to his Spitfire (P9430) led to a crash-landing at Leonard Drive, Drakes Farm, Rayleigh, Essex from which he emerged with a few scrapes and bruises.

On 23 September, he was shot down during a patrol over Dover in Spitfire N3118. He baled out and was rescued from the sea ending up in Dover Hospital. On 12 October, when taking off on patrol, the engine of his Spitfire went on fire but once again he survived a crash-landing without serious injury at Globe Road, Hornchurch, Essex, not far from the aerodrome. On 25 October, he again claimed to have shot down a Messerschmitt ME 109 and on the basis of letters to his parents, it would appear that he claimed a fifth on an unspecified date.

He died while on patrol with other Spitfires over the Dungeness area. His Spitfire P7302 came down near Dover, Kent after at attack from Major Werner Molders of JG51 in a Messerschmitt 109.

After the Spitfires were attacked John’s Flight Commander subsequently reported seeing him hanging underneath his parachute, apparently unconscious. When his body was recovered from the sea it was discovered he had been hit by cannon shells and fatally wounded. His body was brought home to Ballyharry Cemetery, Islandmagee. He is named on 502 (Ulster) Squadron WM, St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast.
On Saturday 02/09/2017, the Royal Air Force staged a flypast over Islandmagee New Cemetery, Islandmagee, to remember Flight Sergeant John McAdam and Squadron Leader Noel Henry Corry.


+GREGG, Henry
RAFVR. Flight Sergeant. 1436515. Died 20/02/1944. Aged 22.166 Sqd. Son of James and Mary Gregg of Belfast.Runnymede Memorial, Panel 218.

+NELSON, Thomas
RAFVR. Sergeant (Air Gunner). 623923. Died 20/02/1944. Aged 23. 158 Sqdn. He was a member of a seven man crew on board a Halifax bomber on a night raid of Leipzig. Shot down near Beedenbostel, NNE of Lachendorf, Germany. Son of Thomas J. and Sarah Nelson, Larne; husband to Mary Nelson. Hanover War Cemetery, Neidersachsen, Germany. Cookstown WM

1944                                      HMS WARWICK

HMS Warwick (D25) was a W-class destroyer built in 1917. She saw service in both World Wars. During World War II Warwick served as a convoy escort, being too out-dated for modern destroyer work. In November 1943 she took part in Operation Alacrity, the establishment and supply of Allied air bases in the Azores which served to close the Mid-Atlantic gap. In January 1944, having returned to Britain, Warwick was assigned to lead an escort group operating in the South-West Approaches, guarding against attacks by German S-boats and submarines. It was while engaged in this she was struck by an acoustic torpedo and sunk on 20/02/1944 by the submarine U-413.

+NUGENT, Thomas Joseph
RN. AB. D/JX 419669. Died 20/02/1944. HMS Warwick. One years’ service. Husband to Mrs. B Nugent, Edward St., Londonderry. (Belfast Weekly Telegraph 17/03/1944). Plymouth Naval Memorial, Panel 87

+PORTER, William John
RN. Petty Officer Telegraphist. D/JX 146518. Died 20/02/1944. Age 24. HMS Warwick. Brother of Wilson who died 10/12/1941. Age 19 in HMS Prince of Wales. Son of William and Arabella Porter, Annalong. (Belfast Weekly Telegraph 31/03/1944). Plymouth Naval Memorial, Panel 88. Newcastle WM

+SLEATOR, George
RN. Able Seaman. D/JX 420406. Died 20/02/1944. Age: 19. HMS Warwick. He was at home a fortnight before his loss. (Ulster Gazette 15/09/1944). Son of William J. and Mabel Sleator, Barrack Hill, Armagh. Plymouth Naval Memorial, Panel 87


DODDS, George
George was born on 14 July 1889 at Carnbane, Newry, County Armagh, the first of two children of John Dodds, a lock-keeper and plate-layer on the Great Northern railway, and his wife Mary (nee McKnight). By 1911 he was living with his mother and sister at Lisdrumgullion, Newry, and working as a quarry labourer.

George Dodds enlisted in the North Irish Horse between 25/08/1913 and 17 /10/1913 (No.865 – later Corps of Hussars 71137). He embarked for France with A Squadron on 17/08/1914, seeing action on the retreat from Mons and advance to the Aisne.
He remained with A Squadron throughout the war. On 20/02/1919 he was transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve.

DUNN, John Hubert

RNVR. Surgeon Probationer. MiD, OBE (1945), TD. Entered the navy late 1917. Served in the destroyer HMS Triton, stationed at Scapa Floe, through part of 1918. Graduated QUB, BCh, DPH, BAO, QUB 1920. MD 1924. FRSM. After graduation and holding the offices of house physician at the Belfast Infirmary and Greenwich Hospital, he became RMO to the National Heart Hospital. Between the wars he became a well-known physician in London. In the second war he served with the RAMC with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and for a time was Medical Adviser to the Malta Command. Husband to Margaret Craig nee Eaton, daughter of Colonel Robert Young Eaton and Margaret Craig Eaton, Toronto. She gained the rank of Colonel Director-General in the service of the Canadian Women’s Army Corps. She was invested as a Officer, Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1945. Born 20/11/1897. Son of William and Jeanne Dunn. Died 20/02/1978, Bramley, Guildford. RBAI, QUB, Holywood. High Street – PCI RH.

TURNER, William
RAMC. Lt Colonel. CMG. MC. Campbell College. QUB/Edinburgh Univ LRCS 1915. CMG 01/02/1915, MC 18/10/1917. Born in 1886. Son of A Turner, Belfast. Died 12/02/1886, Altringham, Cheshire

WILLIAMSON, James Dunlop
War Surgeon, Belfast. Coleraine AI. QUB MD 1886. High Sheriff of Belfast 1935. Deputy Lord Mayor 1941. Born in 1860. Son of Hugh Williamson, Cleggan Cottage, Aghadowey. Husband to Mary. Died 29/02/1944. Belfast City Cemetery


22/02/1914 – “The Witness” reports
The commander (Mr. William Coote, J.P.) of the South Tyrone Battalion Ulster Volunteer Force presided at a social reunion in connection with the Ballygawley section in the Smyth Memorial Hall on Thursday night and outlined a programme of advanced orders, including mobilisation, which would be carried out within the next few weeks by the men.

On Sunday morning the U.V.F., Cookstown Companies, joined by the Lissan Company, paraded from the Orange Hall to the Third Presbyterian Church in Molesworth Street. The procession almost 300 strong, was in charge of Company Commander Mr. John Byers, solicitor; Mr. W. J. Lavery, half-company commander; and the sergeant-major of the company, Mr. W. Taylor. The service was conducted by the Rev. John Entrican, B.A., minister of the congregation.

The drilling of the 2nd Battalion of the U.V.F., North Londonderry Regiment, goes on nightly with unabated vigour, and the men in the various companies are becoming thoroughly efficient in their duties. On Friday evening Colonel Beresford-Ashe inspected A and B Companies (Limavady) in the drillground, and at the close of the inspection complimented the men on their smartness.

The Antrim unit of the 3rd Battalion of the South Antrim Regiment paraded on Sunday at the parade ground at Antrim Castle. Despite the inclemency of the weather there was a good muster of the Volunteers, about 160 turning out. The men marched from the castle grounds, via Castle Street, to First Antrim Presbyterian Church, where a special service was held, the preacher being the Rev. Dr. West, minister of the congregation.

At the annual meeting of Monaghan Unionist Club on 16th inst. the election of officers for the ensuing year was proceeded with, when Major E. J. Richardson was re-elected president, and Dr. J. Campbell Hall, D.L.; Captain F. M. Irwin, D.L.; Messrs. Hamilton Davidson, Wm. Martin, Wm. Swan, and M. E. Knight were re-elected vice-presidents.

His Grace the Lord Primate took part in a special service for the local sections of the Ulster Volunteer Force, held in Grange Parish Church. His Grace, before pronouncing the benediction, said he wished to impress upon the men the great necessity of constant prayer and waiting upon God in the present crisis, reminding them of the words of St. Paul in the Epistle to the Hebrews — “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as ye see the day approaching.”

20/02/1944 – “Big Week”, the USAAF and RAF conducted an all-out campaign against Germany’s aviation industry and the Luftwaffe. Heavy bombers hammered aircraft, engine, and ball-bearing plants by day, and RAF bombers attacked by night, from 20 to 25 February.

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1 Comment

  1. V- and W-class destroyers were suitable for the escort role due to their range, which was increased by removing some of the boilers and replacing them with additional fuel bunkerage.
    The Portuguese government’s granting of basing rights to the UK (they excluded the US, as Salazar believed that if the Americans were allowed on the Azores they would never leave!) under the ancient treaty with England. Use of the Azores didn’t close the mid-Atlantic Gap which had already been closed since May 1943 with the introduction of MAC-ships in convoy escorts. However, it did allow more shore-based aircraft to patrol into the Gap.


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