Today’s Roll includes records of a Belfast adjutant of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers in WW1 and an officer with the Royal Canadian Engineers in WW2 who had both been members of QUB Officer Training Corps. There are quotations from moving correspondence to the parents of an 18-year-old Randalstown casualty, and the post-war civic service of a decorated officer of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Photo – Vimy Ridge Memorial.
Representing their comrades who died on this day
Royal Irish Rifles, ‘C’ Coy, 11th Btn. Rifleman. 3739. Died 03/03/1915 of pneumonia while training at Clandeboy, Co. Down. Enlisted in Randalstown. Born at Balnamore, Ballymoney. Son of Joseph and Susan Dean; husband to Annie of 15, Daisy Hill, Randalstown. Belfast City Cemetery.
+LYONS, William Thomas
Royal Welsh Fusiliers, 10th Btn. Captain. Adjutant. Mentioned in Despatches. Died 03/03/1916. Aged 35. He was educated at Methodist College, Belfast and Royal School, Dungannon, and commenced his business career in the counting-house of Messrs James Lindsay & Co Ltd, Donegal Place, where he held the position of foreign correspondent for 11½ years. About 1910 he became accountant and office manager of the Jaffe Spinning Company Limited, Newtownards Road, and was assistant secretary when he enlisted. He spoke four languages, and was particularly fluent in French, while he held several diplomas for accountancy and commercial work. He formerly taught bookkeeping in the Municipal Technical Institute, Belfast and the Bangor and Ballyclare Technical Schools. He was also well known as an elocutionist, being one of Mr. Pyper’s gold and silver medallists, and was a member of Masonic Lodge No. 372.
He was a member of the Queen’s Training Corps 1913 – 14. He joined the Officer Training Corps in May 1913 and became a first-class signaller in November 1914. He joined the battalion; them commanded by a distinguished County Derry officer, Colonel W R H Beresford-Ash, at Bournemouth and he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant on 5th June 1915. He qualified with first class honours at the Hythe School of Musketry in July and was subsequently given command of a company, being appointed adjutant to the battalion in September. In early March 1916, the brigade was brought up from their rest period to retake from the Germans some trenches taken in the previous month. It was during this attack, which was entirely successful, that Captain Lyons was killed. He was in a dugout with his Colonel and second-in-command when a shell landed on top of the dugout, killing all inside.
He was the eldest son of Martha Lyons, Kerrsland Drive, Strandtown, Belfast, and the late William Lyons. Spoilbank Cemetery, Spoilbank Cemetery, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium
Royal Irish Rifles, ‘C’ Coy. 11th Btn. (South Antrim Volunteers) Rifleman. 3738. Died 03/03/1916. Aged 18. He was a son of John and Sarah McAndrew, Craigstown, Randalstown. Captain Samuels sent the bereaved parents a letter of condolence, in which he says:—
“Hector was one of the most popular boys in the battalion. Everyone knew him, and his cheeriness and good humour, even in the most trying circumstances, endeared him to all. As his company officer, I feel his loss very deeply. He was a very brave soldier, a help and support to his officers and comrades. He is buried in the little military cemetery behind the trenches here, where he lies beside another man of my company who was killed the day before. Your son has given all he had to give for a great cause; he has died a soldier’s death on the field of battle, and his name will go down on that long and glorious roll of honour of those who, in her day of greatest trial, laid down their lives for their country.”
Rev. Andrew Gibson (Lurgan), a Presbyterian chaplain, who laid his remains to rest, has also sent a sympathetic letter, in which he says:— “Your son was a good lad, young in years, but with a man’s heart in him. He was a great favourite with his comrades, and will be missed in his regiment.” (Belfast Telegraph 28/03/1916). Hector is named in Randalstown Old Congregation records. Mesnil Ridge Cemetery, Mesnil-Martinsart, France.
RNR. Sub – Lieutenant (E). 4163/ES. HM Drifter Expectation. Died 30/03/1918. Age 46. Born Coleraine 25/12/1875. Son of Thomas and Julia McLean; husband to Agnes McLean, Turin Street, Grosvenor Road, Belfast. Carnmoney Cemetery AA/-/58. IMR
+POLLEY, Edward Victor
Royal Canadian Engineers. Lieutenant. Died 03/03/1943. Aged 22. He was a student of Civil Engineering at Queen’s University, Belfast and the University of Toronto. He enlisted in the Canadian Officer’s Training Corps in December 1942. He trained at Petawawa, Ontario, Canada and Brockville, Ontario, Canada. He died in an accident. He was riding a motorcycle on military manoeuvres when a crash resulted in a compound fracture to the skull. He was the only son of Robert Victor Polley and Edith Polley of Belfast. Robert served with Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and died on active service on 17/02/1921. Belfast City Cemetery, Glenalina Extension. QUB RH
RAFVR. Aircraftman 1st Class. 1351473. Died 03/03/1947. Aged 34. Son of James and Mary Jane McCormick; Husband to Margaret McCormick of Lisburn. Lisburn (Holy Trinity) Roman Catholic Cemetery
MORRISON, Thomas Dawson, MC
Captain, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
Thomas Dawson Morrison was born on 14/09/1893 to James Morrison, a school teacher and Mary Ann Morrison (nee Dawson). Thomas was the eldest of their four children. His family lived in Mountstewart before moving to Regent Street in Newtownards.
On enlisting Thomas was appointed temporary Second Lieutenant in Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers from 16/11/1915. While acting Lieutenant and adjutant he was promoted Lieutenant on 01/07/1917; and acting Captain while holding the appointment of adjutant from 03/08/1917.
Thomas was awarded the Military Cross on 16/09/1918: “For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. During a heavy enemy attack, he led an assaulting party with great dash, and retook a position. Throughout operations his untiring energy and cheerfulness were of the greatest assistance.”
He was also awarded the Croix de Guerre in 1918: “The President of the French Republic has awarded the Croix de Guere to Captain T. D. Morrison, M.C., 9th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, Newtownards, and Second-Lieutenant J. M. M’Caw, M.C., 2nd Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, formerly of Portglenone. (Belfast Newsletter, 16/12/1918).
After the war, in 1920, Thomas enlisted in the Royal Irish Constabulary and on the formation of the Royal Ulster Constabulary in 1922 was a District Inspector
In 1925 he married Elizabeth Stuart, only daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charles J. Stuart, Bank of Ireland House, Newtownards.
In November 1926, Thomas was one of six Ulstermen appointed to the Dublin Bar and in January 1927 was called to the Bar of Northern Ireland.
Thomas died on 03/03/1985. Aged 92. He was survived by his wife Margaret and sons Daryl and Peter. His funeral was from Ballygilbert Presbyterian Church to Bangor New Cemetery.
The local press carried notices of sympathy from two bodies – (I) The Officers and General Council of the Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games Council of which he was a Life Vice-president and former Chairman, and (ii) The Officers and Members of the Ulster Council, Irish Amateur Boxing Association of which he was a former President
MULHOLLAND, Henry Holmes
RAMC. Colonel. MiD. Campbell College. QUB MB BCh, BAO, 1912. Lieutenant RAMC May 1913. Mobilised 15/09/1914. Served in Gallipoli from 15/06/1915. Waritstan Field Force, India 1918 – 21, Afghanistan 1921. WW2 – BEF, France 1939 – 40. Post – war MO North Rhodesia. Born 1887. Son of James and Janet Mulholland, Warren Rd., Donaghadee. Died 03/03/1979
03/03/1918 – Russia and Germany sign the Brest-Litovsk Treaty. Eager for peace, the Bolsheviks give up vast territories to the Central Powers. With the fighting in the east over, Berlin is now free to shift millions of troops to the Western Front for a massive Spring offensive.
03/03/1940 – The German blockade runner, Arucas, encountered the RoyalNavy Heavy Cruiser HMS York, in the Denmark Strait, whilst trying to return to Germany. Rather than let his ship fall in to RN hands the Arucas’ Captain scuttled it in heavy seas, 13 of his crew were drowned.
03/03/1943 – Battle of the Bismarck Sea: Australian and American air forces devastate Japanese navy convoy
03/03/1945 – German forces recaptured Lauban, and encircled a large group of Soviets. Those were destroyed within 4 days of brutal fighting. This is considered to be one of the last German victories of the war. Goebbels visited the town for propaganda purposes.
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