Today is the wedding anniversary of a Coleraine Gunner who married in Brussels on 09/03/1946 and brought his wife home to Tobermore. The Roll today comprises ten men from our three services including three each from the RN and RAF. Photo – Free French Naval Memorial, Scotland
Representing their comrades who died on this day
Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Private.19978. Died 09/03/1915. Born at Rossmore near Lissan, Cookstown. William enlisted in Cookstown, joining the 9th Btn RInF. While in training with the battalion at Randalstown, his health began to deteriorate in January 1915. Lissan C of I Churchyard, County Londonderry, Cookstown WM
+McMURRAY, F W
Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, 7th Btn. Sergeant. 16511. Died 09/03/1916. Fourth son of Mr. W. J. McMurray, of Carnacaw, Raholp, Downpatrick. Philosophe British Cemetery, Mazingarbe, Pas de Calais, France
Royal Artillery. 226 Light Anti Aircraft Regiment. Gunner. Died 09/03/1942. Aged 46. Born in Belfast. Son of Patrick and Sarah Traynor; Husband to Elizabeth Traynor of Belfast. Belfast City Cemetery, Glenalina Extension
+GOODCHILD, David John
RAFVR. Sergeant (Pilot). 1795195. Died 09/03/1943. Aged 19. Applied Science and Technology, QUB 1940 – 1941. Son of Thurlow and Mary Goodchild, of Bangor, Co. Down. Streatham Park Cemetery, Surrey. QUB WM
Royal Armoured Corps. North Irish Horse, C Squadron. Sergeant. 7897725. Died 09/03/1943, in action in Sedjenane, Tunisia. Tabarka Ras Rajel Cemetery, Tunisia. Royal Courts of Justice, Belfast, WM. QUB WM.
+LANGLANDS, John Porter
RAFVR. Sergeant (Navigator). 947052. Died 09/03/1943. Aged 24. Son of John Baxter Langlands and Winifred Langlands, of Dungannon. Drumcoo Cemetery, Co. Tyrone. 502 (Ulster) Squadron WM, St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast. Dungannon WM
RAF. Sergeant. 645957. Died 09/03/1943. Age 27. 61 Sqd. Son of Henry and Mary McCullough, of Belfast. Durnbach War Cemetery, Germany
1944 HMS ASPHODEL
+BORTHWICK, Alexander Heaford
RN. Able Seaman. C/JX 204240. HMS Asphodel. Died 09/03/1944. Age 23. Son of Hiram and Sarah Isobel Borthwick, Shelley Rd., Prestwick, nr Manchester. Husband to Phyllis Maud Borthwick, Foyle Rd., Londonderry. (Derry Standard 27/03/1944, Belfast Weekly Telegraph 31/03/1944). Chatham Naval Memorial, Panel 75
RN. Stoker First Class. D/SKX 309. Died 09/03/1944. Age 22. HMS Asphodel. Son of David and Martha Bradley, Ballyarnett, Londonderry.(Belfast Weekly Telegraph 07/04/1944) Plymouth Naval Memorial, Panel 89.
+BAXTER, James Alex
RN. Leading Seaman. C/JX 251329. Died 09/03/1945. Aged 56. HMS Racer. Husband to Mary Baxter, Larne. Larne Cemetery
Coleraine Gunner’s romance in Brussels
Today is the wedding anniversary of a Coleraine Gunner who married in Brussels on 09/03/1946.
Harry Stockman from Tobermore was a Sergeant in the Coleraine Battery of 9 Heavy Anti Aircraft Regiment, a Supplementary Reserve unit. He was one of two members of the battery who met their wives in Brussels.
9 HAA, known popularly as “The Derry Boys”, was raised in January 1939. It had its HQ and two Batteries in Londonderry. 6 LAA battery in Coleraine and 25 Battery in Ballymena.
The Regiment had short term deployments in several locations in the UK however, its service was principally in Egypt, the Western Desert, France, Belgium, Holland, and Germany.
Harry first met Annie a few days after the liberation of the capital city. He was stationed at Brussels airport where Annie worked and close to where she lived. Annie who was almost 18 years of age spoke English and she was chosen to speak to the soldiers invited to a street party in her neighbourhood.
Then Harry and Bob McClintock came from the base to recall the soldiers because the Germans had advanced in the Ardennes. Harry was introduced to Annie.
It was four months before they saw each other again. Romance blossomed and despite her father’s concern about her future, Annie and Harry married in the Anglican military church in Brussels on 09/03/1946.
Annie found the mid-Ulster dialect difficult to understand and, to the amusement of her neighbours in Tobermore, she often resorted to using a dictionary. She later commented, “I’ve lived here for over 60 years and when some people hear my accent they still ask me if I am over here on holiday.”
Annie found the people of Tobermore to be very kind and she lived there since 1946. She said, “I have been very happy in Tobermore. I never regretted coming to Tobermore. The people here have always been very friendly.”
Harry died in 2000 and Annie lived on in Tobermore surrounded by the many friends and relatives of the Battery veterans from the neighbourhood.
– Adapted from “The Coleraine Battery” by Ronnie Gamble
North Irish Horse War Diary
Tanks remain in defensive positions. 1415 – 5 tanks of C Sqn with two platoons of Para made recce in force under orders of Corps Commander…
27 POW taken and useful info obtained. Heavy mortar fire during whole operation. Days casualties – 5 ORs missing* and 2 tanks knocked out.
*Corrected to – “a total of 6 missing. Sgt Hewitt and Trooper Currie were killed. Troopers McKerrow and Smith were later found wounded. Troopers Harrison and Johnston were taken prisoner.”
North Irish Horse War Diary – 9th March 1943
The battle report covers the events in more detail.
On 8th March about 1200 hours, one Troop of C Squadron under Lieut. J. E. Williams, with Capt. Sidebottom in support in a close support tank moved up the road Djebel Abiod-Sedjenane to support 1st Parachute Brigade in driving out the enemy who had infiltrated into our positions in the area round Sidi Moh Belkassen…
The number of enemy killed could not be ascertained but they were thrown into considerable confusion and 157 prisoners were taken, including five officers. The co-operation between infantry and tanks was excellent.
On 9th March the corps commander ordered a reconnaissance in force and himself detailed the force to consist of two platoons of infantry and six tanks…
The In-reserve tank then withdrew and picked up Lieut. Williams and crew en route. Approximately 27 prisoners were taken and some useful information was obtained. Throughout the day the road was under very heavy mortar and artillery fire. Casualties suffered while the Regiment was under fire: Killed: Sgt Hewitt, Tpr Currie. Wounded: Tpr McKerrow, Tpr Smith. Taken prisoner: Tpr Harrison, Tpr Johnston.
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