Kaiserschlacht in Photos: An abandoned British camp, and British MkIV Female tank, Somme front March 1918. The WW1 Roll includes men from Belfast, Ballymena, and Derry who were lost when their ship hit a mine and the continuing cost of resisting the 1918 German offensive when the first of two brothers died. A Coleraine Gunner’s Mediterranean meandering in WW2 is featured.
Representing their comrades who died on this day
Royal Irish Rifles. Lance Corporal. 14610. Died 22/03/1916. Aged 45. He was injured and died of wounds. Born in Dungannon about 1871. Son of Joseph and Matilda Fitzsimmons. John worked as a mechanic in a foundry and later as a ‘Commercial Traveller Engineering’ Belfast City Cemetery
Royal Irish Rifles, 12th Btn. Rifleman. 19129. Died 22/03/1917. Born 30 /04/1892 at Greenville St, Castlereagh, Belfast. He enlisted in Ballymena. Son of David Magee and Margaret Brown. both from Ballymena, were living at Cupar Street, Belfast in 1901 and were at 60 Queen Street, Ballymena in 1911. Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension. 2nd Ballymena (High Kirk) Presbyterian Church RH.
1918 HMS GALLARDIA
+CARGILL, George Roulston
RN. Stoker 1st Class. SS109513. HMS Gaillardia. Died 22/03/1918. Aged 25. Took part in the naval operations in connection with the landing at Gallipoli. HMS Gaillardia was an Aubretia Class Convoy Sloop, 1,250 tons, 17 knots, 92 crew and was built with mercantile appearances and used as Q-ship. On 22/03/1918, in the North Sea, off the Orkney Islands she was carrying out buoying operations in the newly-laid Northern Barrage between Scotland and Norway aimed at interrupting the passage of U-boats into the North Atlantic, when she was blown up and sunk by one of the barrage mines. Although most sources put her loss down to mines, at least one suggests she was torpedoed. At time of death he had a brother on active service in France. Possibly a member of Clooney Hall Methodist Church. Born Londonderry 21/11/1891. Son of George Roulston Cargill and Emma Cargill, Moore St., Waterside, Londonderry. Chatham Naval Memorial. Londonderry, The Diamond WM. ADM 188/1115/109513
RN. Petty Officer Stoker. 289182. HMS Gaillardia. Died 22/03/1918. Enlisted as a Boy Sailor, he had 20 years of service. Built by Blyth SB and launched on the 19/5/1917, as a minesweeper, HMS Gaillardia was an Aubretia Class Convoy Sloop, 1,250 tons, 17 knots, 92 crew and was built with mercantile appearances and used as Q-ship. On 22/03/1918, in the North Sea, off the Orkney Islands she was carrying out buoying operations in the newly-laid Northern Barrage between Scotland and Norway aimed at interrupting the passage of U-boats into the North Atlantic, when she was blown up and sunk by one of the barrage mines. Although most sources put her loss down to mines, at least one suggests she was torpedoed. Next of kin, Thomas McKeen, Bryan Street, Ballymena. Chatham Naval Memorial
RN. Stoker I. K21819. HMS Gaillardia. Died 22/03/1918. Age 24. Mine explosion in North Sea. Enrolled 07/01/1914 for 12 years. Pembroke I and II, Antrim, Q13 and Gallardia (11/12/1917 – 22/03/1918). Born Belfast 07/05/1894. Son of John and Ann Jane McGrady, Grove St., Belfast. Chatham Naval Memorial, Panel 29. ADM 188/910/21819
+GOURLEY, Joseph Leo
Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, Sergeant. Died 22/03/1918. Son of Joseph and Jane Gourley nee McKaig, of Winetavern Street, Belfast. One of five brothers serving. A sixth brother Rifleman Francis Gourley, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, died on the 27/03/1918.
Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, 1st Btn. Private. 27452. Died 22/03/1918. Aged 22. Eldest son of Philip and Susanna Harkin. Born 07/10/1896 in the Moy area. He was one of five children. His father was an agricultural labourer. In his will, Charles left all to his mother Susanna Harkin, who was living in Stangmore, Dungannon. Pozières Memorial, Somme, France. Dungannon WM, Moy WM
+MAGEE, John Gilmor
Highland Light Infantry, 14th Btn. Formerly Cameronians (Scottish Rifles – 23371). Corporal. 29112. Died 22/03/1918. Aged 19. Born on 05/06/1898 in the Cookstown area. He was one of at least eleven children. Son of Alexander and Sarah Ann Magee of Orritor, Cookstown. John was employed with his father at Wellbrook until early 1916. He was a member of the Ulster Volunteer Force and of Orritor L.O.L. He went to work in Glasgow. He joined the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles). He subsequently transferred to the Highland Light Infantry. Arras Memorial, Pas de Calais, France. Cookstown WM, St Luran’s Church RH
Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, 1st Btn. Private. 28406. Died 22/03/1918. Born and lived in Upperlands, County Londonderry. He enlisted in Cookstown. Pozières Memorial, Somme, France. Cookstown War Dead Book
+ McCONAGHIE, Thomas
RN. Leading Stoker. 310567. Died of illness 22/03/1918. HMS Victory II. Enrolled 14/07/1906. War service in Hercules and Victory II. Born Ballymoney 10/07/1886. ADM 188/508/310567
+MclLWAINE, Julian Mackey
Royal Flying Corps, 12 Squadron. 5th Royal Irish Rifles. Julian was born on 30/09/1888 in Townsville, Queensland, Australia, the son of Edward Nangle MacIlwaine and Julia Alma Gaussen MacIlwaine later of 67, Eglantine Avenue, Belfast. After attending RBAI (Inst), Julian was working as a stockbroking manager when he applied for a commission with the Royal Irish Rifles. In early 1915, he qualified as an instructor at the School of Musketry in Dublin and after proceeding to the Western Front, suffered an abdominal wound caused by a rifle bullet when in action at Fromelles, on 26/04/1915. He returned to action with the Royal Flying Corps. Julian was examined by a medical board on 08/06/1917 at the Waldorf Hotel in London, the report stating “he has thickened arteries – cardiac hypertrophy – gives a history of being run over by a motor lorry – may have one more try at flying.” He was flying in RE8 B4040, with Second Lieutenant William Magnus Irvine, on the IV Corps front, when they were reported as missing on 22/03/1918. His three brothers also served in the war, all surviving. Arras Flying Services Memorial, Pas de Calais, France
RAF. Aircraftman 2nd Class. 286836. Died 22/03/1919. Aged 17. Son of James Graydon and Emily Lee Graydon, of 58, Surrey St., Belfast. Born at Newtownbutler. Galloon (St. Comgall) Church of Ireland Churchyard, County Fermanagh
+CALLAGHAN, Felix Leonard
RAF. Leading Aircraftman. 624558. Died 22/03/1941. Aged 21. Son of Patrick J. Callaghan and Mary Ann Callaghan, of Mullaghbawn, Co. Armagh. Moose Jaw (Rosedale) Cemetery, Saskatchewan, Canada
Royal Artillery. 3 Maritime Regt. 5 Bty. Gunner. 6292446. Died 22/03/1943. Age 24. Son of John and Eliza Marlow. of Seskinore. Fintona (St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s) Roman Catholic Cemetery
+HOLMES, Kenneth Thomas Shaw
RAFVR. Flight Lieutenant. 132792. Died 22/03/1944. 158 Sqd. Son of Thomas S. S. and Kathleen L. Holmes, Belfast. Gosselies Communal Cemetery, Belgium
+WEBB, John Cameron Keith
RAFVR. Flight Sergeant (Pilot). 1498781. Died 22/03/1944. Aged 20. 35 Sqdn. Bombing raid over Germany. Son of John Alexander Webb and Anne Hull Webb, of Belfast. Durnbach War Cemetery, Bayern, Germany. Stormont Presbyterian Church
Royal Ulster Rifles, The London Irish Rifles, 2nd Btn. Rifleman. 14417552. Died 22/03/1945. Aged 21. There were three men injured and two killed in F Coy during the night when a Bofors grenade fell short and exploded at the Senio river. Son of Robert and Daisy Evelyn Irwin, of Belfast. Faenza War Cemetery, Italy
Coleraine Gunner’s Mediterranean meandering
Individual members of the Coleraine Battery of 9HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery, had experiences beyond that of regimental deployments.
Members of the Battery were posted to Italy or Greece because they had specialist skills or because they had been left behind when the Battery moved on.
Lance Bombardier Bobby McDonald had a spell of ill health in Egypt due to a perforated appendix which announced itself on 22/03/1941 near Mersa Matruh. He was transferred on board the SS Llandovery Castle and taken to military General Hospital No. 63 in Cairo where he arrived on 29/03/1941.
In October, now a Bombardier, he was attached to Regimental HQ of 2 LAA Regiment. From February to June 1943 he was trained at the Middle East Signals School and as a Regimental Signals Instructor. With this qualification, Bobby left the strength of the Coleraine Battery for the remainder of the war. He was posted to 17 AA Brigade HQ in Tobruk.
After a series of postings, on 08/06/1944 he was posted as a radio operator to a field artillery unit – 32 Battery, 22 Field Regiment.
Bobby kept his own war diary and it has 49 entries for the movement of this unit through Italy until the war was won. He commented in 2004, “Every day there was a river crossing. We would reach the river in the evening, get some sleep and then cross over in the morning”.
On August 5, Bobby was on leave in Rome. He later walked up the north-east coast of Italy taking in Rimini, Pescara and Forli. On 18/11/1944, he met Stanley Harper of the North Irish Horse who was also in the north of Italy.
He left Italy in December 1944 via Taranto on the MV Ocean Messenger for Pireus and Athens. After a tour of duty in Greece he returned to Naples and on 22/03/1945 he left for Liverpool via Gibraltar on the MV Georgic. After reporting to Woolwich, he returned to Coleraine on leave on 05/04/1945, the first time since a short leave from Scotland in 1939. He went on to serve in Brecon in Wales, Brussels, and Tournai.
Bobbly was eventually demobbed in Belfast on 27/04/1946. He returned to his civilian job as a clerk in the Coleraine offices of the Ulster Transport Authority. Eventually, he was promoted to transport manager and remained in the post until his retirement.
– Adapted from “The Coleraine Battery” by Ronnie Gamble
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