February 26 – Roll of Honour

Three riflemen from Shantallow, Lisburn, and Belfast, serving in the Royal Ulster Rifles, London Irish Rifles, died in an attack in Tunisia, this day in 1943. Today’s veteran is Geoffrey Hemming, an aviator in both wars with the RNAS and then the RAF. He was a WW1 flying ace credited with six aerial victories when he was awarded the DSC. Notes today are of WW1 awards reported in 1915. Photo – Serre Road No 1 Cemetery near the Somme on the way to Loos

Representing their comrades who died on this day


+McMICHAEL, Joseph
Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, 2nd Btn. Private. 11689. Died 26t/02/1917. He may have come from Linenhall Street, Ballymena, but connections with the town are tenuous.  He was born around Ballymoney but had been in Belfast for a long time. He and his sister Hessie were in the 1901 Irish census recorded as residents of the Balmoral Industrial Schools, set up after 1868 to care for “neglected, orphaned and abandoned children”. Hessie later lived in the city at 35 Upper Meadow Street. Balmoral Industrial School was set up in West End (now Musgrave) Park, Balmoral and was to accommodate 100 boys. Joseph McMichael passed through its portals, though his name does not occur on the institution’s Roll of Honour. Fouquescourt British Cemetery, Somme, France


+WILSON, Richard
Royal Ulster Rifles, 1st Btn. Rifleman, No. 7013415. Died 26/02/1942, as a result of shock following injuries caused by a bomb explosion. The son of Elizabeth Hogg of Belfast. Belfast City Cemetery, Glenalina Extension.


+HAMILTON, Charles
Royal Ulster Rifles, London Irish Rifles, 2nd Btn. Rifleman. 7019478. Died 26/02/1943 when German forces attacked the Djebel Rihane (Jabal ar Rayhan) area west of the road between Bou Arada (Bu Aradah) and Goubellet (Quballa). Son of the late John Hamilton and Mary Hamilton of Racecourse Road, Shantallow, Co. Londonderry. Medjez-el-Bab War Cemetery, Tunisia.

+RUDDOCK, William George Donaldson
Royal Ulster Rifles, London Irish Rifles, 2nd Btn. Rifleman. 7014282. Died 26/02/1943 when German forces attacked the Djebel Rihane (Jabal ar Rayhan) area west of the road between Bou Arada (Bu Aradah) and Goubellet (Quballa). Aged 20. Son of Samuel Ruddock and Esther Ruddock of Belfast. Medjez-el-Bab War Cemetery, Tunisia.

+SCOTT, David Lowry
Royal Ulster Rifles, London Irish Rifles, 2nd Btn. Rifleman. 7018891. Died 26/02/1943 when German forces attacked the Djebel Rihane (Jabal ar Rayhan) area west of the road between Bou Arada (Bu Aradah) and Goubellet (Quballa). Aged 22. Son of David Lowry Scott and Annie Scott of 13 Hilden Avenue, Lisburn. Before the outbreak of the Second World War, David worked for Messrs. William Barbour and Sons in Hilden and was a member of Lisburn CLB. He enlisted in the early years of the war and had 2.5 years’ service at his time of death. Medjez-el-Bab War Cemetery, Tunisia.


+SHANKS, Joseph
Royal Artillery. Gunner. 1465491. Died 26/02/1945. Aged 34. 539 Bty., 157 H.A.A. Regt. Son of Thomas and Susan Shanks; husband to Emma Mary Shanks, of Bangor, Co. Down. Southend-on-Sea (Sutton Road) Cemetery, Essex


HEMMING, Geoffrey William

RNAS/ RAF. Flight Sub Lieutenant.DCS. A flying ace credited with six aerial victories. He joined 4 Naval Squadron just after its foundation. It was equipped with Sopwith Pups, and based at Ostend, Belgium. Hemming piloted Pup No. N6177 to victory over a Siemens-Schuckert D.I, destroying it on 12/05/1917. He switched to No. N6199 for his victories on 6 June, when he destroyed another Siemens Schuckert D.I, and drove a third one down out of control. He then upgraded to Sopwith Camel No. B3841 for his triple win on 22/8/1917, when he drove down three Albatros DVs out of control. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, “In recognition of his services with a Wing of the RNAS at Dunkirk between March and September, 1917, during which period he has been continuously employed on the Belgian coast, and on many occasions has been in charge of a flight. On 22 September 1917, he led his flight against a formation of twenty enemy aircraft, and engaging three consecutively, brought them all down.”

Geoffrey Hemming married Dorothy May Woods, daughter of Mr. and Mrs R. J. Woods, of Princetown Lodge, Bangor, on 07/02/1923 at St. Comgall’s Parish Church, Bangor. Dorothy Hemmings’ son, Desmond Wettern, was Naval Correspondent of The Daily Telegraph. Geoffrey William Hemming perished in a flying accident with a Fairey III D at RAF Calshot on 26/02/1926.




To be extra Aide-de-Camp to the King and to be Brevet-Colonel — Lieutenant-Colonel W. D. Bird, D.S.O.
Promotion to Captain — Second-Lieutenant J. Martin.
To be a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order — Lieutenant S. S. Dillon.

To be C.M.G. — Lieutenant-Colonel C. A. Wilding.
To be a Companion of the D.S.O. — Captain G. R. V. Steward.

Private H. Gamble, 10356, 2nd Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.
Private J. Johnston, 8666, 2nd Royal Irish Rifles.
Sergeant W. O’Lone, 7511, 2nd Royal Irish Rifles.
Lance Corporal A. Osbaldston, 7284, 1st Royal Irish Rifles.
Private W. Shearer, 6055, 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Rifles.
Sergeant G. Thompson, 8650, 2nd Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.
Corporal J. Thompson, 9089, 2nd Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Amongst the recipients of the decorations graciously awarded by the King for gallantry on the field are the following Belfast doctors, who have been awarded the Military Cross — Captain W. B. Purdon, M.B.; Lieut. W. M’Cullagh, M.B.; and Lieut. W. Tyrrell, M.B.

Three chaplains have also been awarded the Military Cross — The Rev, H. W. Blackburne, M.A.; the Rev. the Hon. M. B. Peel, and the Rev. A. H. Boyd, M.A.

Rev. Dr. Hamilton, Vice-Chancellor of the Queen’s University, in a letter to the Press, congratulates on behalf of the University the following distinguished Queensmen whose names are mentioned in Sir John French’s despatch for gallant service in the field —
Brigadier-General the Rev. J. M. Sims, D.D., principal chaplain of the Expeditionary Force.
Major F. S. Irvine, M.B., Royal Army Medical Corps, son of the late well-remembered Canon Irvine, of this city.
Captain W. Brooke Purdon, M.B., son at another well-known Belfast physician, and himself noted, among other things, as an international footballer.
Captain T. M. Phillips, R.A.M.C., killed in action, son of the late Rev. J. G. Phillips, of Damascus.
Lieutenant J. V. Atkinson, 2nd Essex Regiment.
Lieutenant J. L. Jackson, son of the Rev. John Jackson, B.D., Ballycastle.
Lieutenant W. M. H. M’Cullagh, M.B., winner in his student days of the M’Quitty Memorial Prize at the Royal Victoria Hospital.
Lieutenant J. M. Pirrie, M.B., a grandson of a former well-remembered Belfast physician.
Second-Lieutenant C. E. Cooke, 3rd Battalion of the Royal Irish Fusiliers, son of Mr. Alexander Cooke Belfast.
Lieutenant William Tyrrell, M.B., medical officer of the 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers, the son of the High Sheriff of Belfast, and himself well known as one of our foremost athletes.
Rev. Joseph Lynn, B.A., B.D., acting chaplain to the Expeditionary Force.
These men, adds the Vice-Chancellor not only brought high and unwonted honour to themselves, but to their alma mater and all Ulster, and may be assured that their names will live in our history for evermore.
– The Witness

26/02/1918 – Miss Katy Beaufoy, Matron drowned when HMHS Glenart Castle was torpedoed. The Captain, 8 nurses, 7 Medical officers, 47 medical orderlies, and 99 patients were lost.

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1 Comment

  1. The deaths of Riflemen Hamilton, Ruddock and Scott occurred during a major German offensive against the British Y Division, an ad hoc formation commanded by Brigadier Nelson Russell of Lisburn, the commander of 38 (Irish) Brigade. Four German battlegroups were committed and two battalions of Sturmregiment Koch, a Fallschirmjaeger formation, attacked the area held by 2nd London Irish Rifles, a battalion that had already suffered heavily on Point 286 a month before.
    Many of the Rifles’ positions were overrun, including those on Stuka Ridge, where Gunner Spike Milligan of 56th Heavy Regiment earned a Mention in Despatches. John Lofting and Colin Gibbs’ companies held firm while two companies of 1st Royal Irish Fusiliers and one of 6th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers made a series of counter-attacks that led to the relief of the LIR companies; B Company of the Royal Irish Fusiliers also cleared Stuka Ridge. Six Churchill tanks of the North Irish Horse supported the counter-attacks.


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