March 05 – Roll of Honour

Two Gunners who died on this day in 1943 are named on the Singapore Memorial. One from Ballymena had enlisted and served with the 9th (Derry) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment. The Irish Brigade celebrated Barrosa Day in Italy in 1945. Gordon Kerr from Lurgan died when his Lancaster crashed east of Brussells in 1945. The local community has had major international acts of remembrance marking the service of him and his colleagues. Photo – The Spitfire prototype made its first flight On This Day in 1936.

Representing their comrades who died on this day

1918

+MURRAY, Robert John
Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, 7th/8th Btn. Private. 29586. Died 05/03/1918. Aged 20. Son of John and Mary Murray. Robert was born in Fedden, Ballygawley, Co Tyrone about 1898. John Murray worked as a farm labourer. Villers-Faucon Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme, France. Ballygawley War Dead Book

1919

+GREER, J
Royal Irish Fusiliers. 3rd (Garr.) Bn. transf. to (390371) 156th Coy. Private. G/26349. Died 05/03/1919. Aged 42. Son of John and Martha Greer, of Banbridge; husband to I. P. Greer, of 22, Colchester St., Belfast. Blargies Communal Cemetery extension. Oise, France

1943

+BANKS, George Edmund
Royal Artillery. 9 Coast Regt. Gunner. 853226. Died 05/03/1943. Aged 27. Singapore Memorial, Singapore. Dollingstown WM

+COLEMAN, Robin Benjamin Bunch
Royal Artillery. 9 HAA Regt. Lieutenant. 87490. Died 05/03/1943. Aged 33. Ballymena Academy and Campbell College. Robin had been promoted and was serving with another Gunner regiment at the time of his death. Son of James and Doris Coleman, of Ballymena. Singapore Memorial, Singapore. Derry Cathedral WM. West Presbyterian Church, Ballymena RH

+LUFF, Edmund
RAF. Flying Officer. 47914. Died 05/03/1943. Aged 26.156 Sqdn. Son of William George and Gertrude Isabel Luff, Belfast. Rheinberg War Cemetery, Germany

1945

+KERR, Holman Gordon Stanley

Flying Officer 185226. Died 05/03/1945. Age 23. 514 Sqdn., Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Son of Thomas John and Evelyn Margaret Kerr, of Lurgan. Heverlee War Cemetery. Lurgan WM

514 Squadron was involved in air support for the advancing allied armies during the last months of the war. It was in the course of such action that F.O.Kerr died.

Gordon was educated at Lurgan College from 03/09/1934 until 31/07/1940. Soon after leaving school, he joined the Belfast Banking Company and worked in Rathfriland branch.

Stationed at RAF Waterbeach, Cambridge, England,  on the night of 05/03/1945, the crew flew Lancaster bomber aircraft (I NN775 JI-F2) on an operation to Geisenkirchen targeting a Benzol Plant.

While flying near Tirlemont, the aircraft suddenly went into a dive from which the pilot was unable to recover. The plane crashed at Bunsbeek, Belgium and all seven crew were killed.  Three bodies were recovered and placed in a communal grave with seven headstones in Heverlee War Cemetery.  Gordon was not one of them. The others, including Gordon, remained buried with the wreckage of the plane.

A memorial ceremony was held at the crash site on Remembrance Sunday,11/11/2015 with officials attending from Germany, UK, Australia, and the Belgian Air Force.

Also, the Mayor of Bunsbeek, Belgium together with the British, Australian and German ambassadors attended a Remembrance service to commemorate the crew from 3 aircraft (A Wellington, a Junkers 88 and Lancaster NN775) that crashed near the village.

Gordon and his crew were honoured again in a service of commemoration on Friday 28/04/2017 at Heverlee War Cemetery, Vlaams-Brabant, Belgium. The service, organised by the MOD’s Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC), part of Defence Business Services was conducted by the Reverend (Wing Commander) Ashley Mitchell RAF and supported by RAF Defence Staff based in Belgium. The ceremony was attended by British and Australian Defence Staff, 514 Squadron representatives and local dignitaries.

Beverley Simon, JCCC said: “It has been a tremendous privilege for the JCCC to have organised this service of commemoration for the 7 crew members of Lancaster NN775 and to ensure that the appropriate level of dignity, ceremony, and respect has been afforded.

“We are especially delighted that so many of the crew’s families were able to attend the service, some from as far afield as the USA.”

NOTES

05/03/1933 – The Nazis win the German general election with just 43.9 per cent of the popular vote. Despite failing to secure a majority, Hitler moves swiftly to transform the country into a totalitarian dictatorship.

05/03/1936 – Happy birthday to the Supermarine Spitfire. This day in 1936, prototype (K5054), a new all-metal monoplane fighter, took off on its first flight from Eastleigh Aerodrome.

05/03/1940 – Soviet NKVD chief Lavrentiy Beria proposed to execute all captive members of the Polish officer corps, they were considered enemies of the Soviet Union. Stalin approved this. Some 22,000 Polish prisoners would be executed in April and May 1940.

05/03/1945 – 38 (Irish) Brigade. At Forli 0930: A Brigade Church Service was conducted by C of I cleric, the Reverend Victor Pike OBE, Assistant Chaplain General, 8th Army. The brigade then marched past a saluting base and the salute was taken by the Brigade Commander. The ceremony was held to celebrate Barrosa Day – 05/03/1811 Battle of Barrosa. FAB.

VETERAN

BLACK, Herbert James

Herbert was a dispatch rider in the Army in World War One. His parents, Mr. H.A.G. and Mrs. Black, lived in Portrush, and he lived at Main Street, Portstewart. He was living in Bangor when he died on 05/03/1966, aged 75 years. Northern Constitution 11/12/1915.

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