The Medium Mark A “Whippet” tank went into action for the first time against the German Spring Offensive on this day in 1918. Among those remembered today are George Henry MM from Cookstown who was the bodyguard of Sir John French when he was Commander-in-Chief in WW1, and five lost in HMS Jaguar in WW2. Three remarkable veterans complete today’s Roll. Photo – Whippet Firefly of F Battalion in The Museum of the Army in Brussels.
Representing their comrades who died on this day
Royal Field Artillery, 13th Bde. 2nd Bty. Gunner. 61372. Died 26/03/1915. Aged 28. Eldest son of George and Rose Hamill, of Roan, Eglish, Dungannon. George Hamill was a blacksmith. Kirkdale Cemetery, Liverpool. Eglish RH
+DUNWOODIE, William David
N.Z.E.F. Auckland Regiment, 1st Btn. Private. 31968. Died 23/06/1917. Aged c 19. William Dunwoodie attended Dilworth Ulster Institute in Auckland, New Zealand from 1906-1911. After leaving school William worked as a labourer in New Zealand before enlisting with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade. William David Dunwoodie was the son William Dunwoodie. William was born about 1898. He lived at Millberry, Caledon, Tyrone. By the time of the 1901 census his mother had died. Messines Ridge (NZ) Memorial, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium. Dungannon WM
RMLI. Lance Corporal. 14258. Plymouth Division. SS Lady Cory Wright. Died 26/03/1918. Vessel sunk by UC-17 shortly after sailing from Devonport. The Captain and 38 to 41 men were lost. Enlisted 21/11/1907. War service in Roxburgh, Endymion and President. Demobilised and joined RFR 31/01/1917. Transferred from SS Canopy Gun Crew to SS Lady Cory Wright Gun Crew 08/02/1917. Born Belfast 11/05/1890. Son of Mrs Agnes Boyd, Ebenezer Villa. Whitehead – PCI RH. Plymouth Naval Memorial, Panel 28. ADM 159/155/14258
Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, 9th Btn. Private. 29816. Died 26/03/1918. Thomas was working in Scotland at the outbreak of the First World War and enlisted in Glasgow in early 1917. Private Cheevers joined his battalion at the front as a battle casualty replacement in late 1917. He was wounded in the retreat from St. Quentin during the German Spring Offensive of March 1918 Born in Cookstown on 20/05/1893, son of James and Margaret Cheevers, of Millburn St., Cookstown, Co. Tyrone. Noyon New British Cemetery, Oise, France. Cookstown WM, St Luran’s Church WM
+CLARKE (Clark) Henry
Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, 1st Btn. Private. 21929.Died 26/03/1918. Aged 25. His family lived at 45 Springwell Street, Ballymena. He enlisted at Harthill and lived at Lanark, West Lothian. St. Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen, France. Buckna Presbyterian Church RH
+CONWAY, William John
Black Watch (Royal Highlanders), 2nd Btn. (attch. 7th). Corporal. S/6003. Died: 26/03/1918. Aged 22. He was born 01/10/1895 at 10 St. Leonard Street in Belfast. He was the second child of Robert Conway, a Railway Guard, and his wife Margaret Jane (nee Moore).
William’s father Robert came from Conlig, a small village midway between Newtownards and Bangor. Robert was working as a car driver when he married Margaret in Ballygilbert Presbyterian Church in February 1892.
Robert and Margaret were living in Castle Street, Bangor, when their first child Margaret was born in Dec 1892 – Robert now working as a Railway Porter – before moving to Belfast where William was born in 1895 and his sister Minnie Agnes was born 12 St Leonard Street in 1899.
The family then moved to Stevenston in Ayrshire, although the exact date is unknown. It was there that William’s four other siblings where born – Robert, Martha, Hugh, and Thomas.
William enlisted in the Black Watch (Royal Highlanders), entering France on 20/09/1915 – the date which the 10th Battalion are recorded as entering France. Two months later, in November 1915, the 10th were sent to Salonika.
In April 1916, suffering from acute nephritis, William (recorded as serving with D Company, 10th Batt.) was transferred to the Hospital Ship Formosa and in December he embarked at Shat-el-Arb for Bombay (now recorded as serving with the 2nd Battalion) and in February 1917 was transferred to England.
As the 2nd Battalion stayed in Palestine and Mesopotamia, however, it is logical to assume he was transferred to the 7th Battalion with whom he is recorded as serving when he was presumed killed on 26th March 1918. Arras Memorial, Stevenston WM Ayrshire, Family memorial in Bangor Cemetery
+DURNEEN, John James
North Irish Horse, A Sqdn.Private. 71655. Died 26/03/1918. Aged 21.John James worked for Bullock & Co, a draper in Fintona, County Tyrone. He then moved on to work for Mulholland Bros., Cookstown. John enlisted in Antrim about July 1916. Private John James Durneen joined the 5th Army Cyclist Corps – the North Irish Horse – Regiment ‘A’ Squadron. He was returning from special reconnaissance work and was instantly killed by a stray shell. Son of James Durneen and M. E. Durneen, of Clogher, Co. Tyrone. Toutencourt Communal Cemetery, Somme, France. Clogher WM, St Macartan’s Cathedral plaque
Machine Gun Corps, 62nd Btn. Private. 66484. (Formerly 7657 of Connaught Rangers). Died 26/03/1918. He was born in Ahoghill and was the son of weaver John Elliott, Ahoghill, and domestic servant Margaret Mullan, Ahoghill. The couple had married in Ahoghill RC Chapel on the 11/08/1872. Thomas enlisted in Glasgow. He was a keen boxer and a boxing champion. Bienvillers Military Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France. Family headstone at Ahoghill Roman Catholic Cemetery.
5th (Royal Irish) Lancers. Private.163. Died 26/03/1918. Pozieres Memorial, Somme, France. Dungannon WM
+HENRY, George Adams
Royal Irish Fusiliers, 9th Btn. Lance Serjeant. MM. 41401. Died of severe wounds at the Australian General Hospital at Rouen. 26/03/1918. Aged 23. George Henry joined the North Irish Horse prior to the war and as a trooper had gone to France at the outbreak of hostilities. For some months he was the bodyguard of Sir John French when he was Commander-in-Chief, and afterwards of General Smith-Dorrien. On 13/01/1918, Sergeant Henry was awarded the Military Medal along with Lance Corporal A.C. Clarke. St Sever Cemetery Extension, Seine-Maritime, France. Cookstown WM, Second Cooksgtown PCI RH, Kingsmills Orange Hall RH
6th Dragoons (Inniskilling). Private. 7158. Died 26/03/1918. Aged 25. James was born about 1893 in Aughnacloy, County Tyrone, the son of David and Eliza Joyce. David Joyce was a farmer. Pozieres Memorial, Somme, France. IMR
+KEMP, Kenneth John
RNVR. Sub Lieutenant. (E) Died 26/03/1941. Age 22. HMS Gloucester. Perished on raft due to enemy action. CAI and QUB, BSc Hons, 1939. He had resided in Carrickfergus for eight years and was prominent in sporting circles. Son of Mr and Mrs J Kemp, Castleview House, Castlerock. (Belfast Weekly Telegraph 10/05/1941 and 24/05/1941.) Plymouth Naval Memorial, Panel 61. QUB WM
Royal Artillery. Gunner. 1489950. Died on 26/03/1941. Aged 51. 176 Battery, 66 Light Anti Aircraft Regiment. Son of Alexander and Margaret Boyd McDonald of Belfast; Husband to Helen Kane McDonald of Belfast. Carnmoney C of I Churchyard
1942 HMS JAGUAR
The J Class (F34) HMS Jaguar was part of a convoy bound for Tobruk, Egypt. She sank from 2 torpedoes from a spread of four fired by U-652 off Sidi Barrani, Egypt. A total of 193 crew and ratings died in HMS Jaguar. Only 53 of a crew of 246 survived. Five from Northern Ireland are remembered here.
RN. Leading Stoker. D/KX 96019. Died 26/03/1942. Aged 22. HMS Jaguar. Son of John and Mary Jane Kenny, Lisnaskea. Plymouth Naval Memorial, Panel 69. Enniskillen WM
RN. AB. D/SSX 13321. MiD. Died 26/03/1942. HMS Jaguar. 13 years service. Son of Joseph and Matilda Kidd, Moyola St., Belfast,; husband to Elizabeth Kidd, Sydney St., West, Belfast. (Belfast Weekly Telegraph 17/04/1942). Plymouth Naval Memorial, Panel 65
RN. AB. D/SSX 17853. Died 26/03/1942. Aged 26. HMS Jaguar. Enlisted in 1936. Served in HMS Iron Duke, HMS Drake, HMS Exeter, HMS Defender, HMS Hood, and HMS Jaguar 1939-1942 was his vessel. He was a torpedo man onboard HMS Jaguar.
Born on 18/07/1915, he was the son of Margaret Jane Lamont and her fiancé Allan Mills McCullagh of Carnaboy Cottage, Coleraine. His father and uncle, Arthur McCullagh, were both veterans of WW1. He was the stepson of John McLean of Bushmills, Co. Antrim.
The army had granted Allan Mills McCullagh leave to return to Ireland, visit his newborn son, and marry Margaret. In one of his last letters home, he requested that if the baby was a son, he should be Allan.
A sniper shot Allan McCullagh as he was nearing the train station to begin his homeward journey. Stretcher-bearers rushed him to a nearby field hospital. In a critical condition, he went on to a larger hospital at Le Havre, France. There, he died from his wounds.
Consequently, Allan Lamont never met his father. Each year, he and his mother Margaret paid tribute to Allan Mills McCullagh at the Bushmills War Memorial. They would lay wildflowers by the memorial as his name was called out.
For several years, Allan Lamont was an only child. Margaret would later meet and marry John McLean of Bushmills. The couple would have ten children who all looked up to their old brother Allan.
No matter what ship he served on, Allan Lamont would always bring home gifs from his exotic travels for his mother and siblings.
In 1940, Allan sustained wounds at Dunkirk, France. The RN granted him 24 hours compassionate leave and he returned to Northern Ireland to visit the family. He said goodbye to them for what would be the last time on 10/06/1940. Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Panel 65, Portsmouth, Hampshire.
RN. Leading Signalman. D/JX 135189. Died 26/03/1942. Aged 26. HMS Jaguar. Born on 20/06/1915, he was the son of John Spratt and Charlotte Spratt of Lenaderg, Co. Down. Joseph’s brother-in-law Graham Charles Bradley also lost his life during WW2. Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Panel 67, Portsmouth, Hampshire. Gilford WM, All Saint’s Church of Ireland, Tullylish WM
+TAPLIN, William Robert
RN. Able Seaman. D/JX 147550. Died 26/03/1942. Age 22. HMS Jaguar. Son of William and Julia Taplin, Whiteabbey. Plymouth Naval Memorial, Panel 66
Royal Ulster Rifles, 2nd Btn. Serjeant. 7009959. Died 26/03/1942. Aged 37, at a military hospital in Hatfield, Hertfordshire. At the time of his death, James had more than 17 years of military service and saw action at Dunkirk. Born 26/10/1904, he was the son of Charles Lockhart and Martha Jane Lockhart (née Wiley) of Templepatrick. James married Henrietta Cairns and the couple lived with their 2 daughters at 6 Hunter Street, Belfast. Reverend JM Payne of St. Aidan’s Parish Church, Belfast, conducted services at the Lockhart home and at the graveside on Tuesday 31/03/942. Four Lockhart brothers carried the Sergeant’s coffin with many members of the Royal Ulster Rifles in attendance. James’ brother Company Sergeant Major Harry Lockhart also served in the Rifles. Belfast City Cemetery, Glenalina Extension
+LOGAN, John Graham
RAF. Leading Aircraftman. 632192. Died 26/03/1942. Aged 20. 949 Balloon Sqdn. Died 26/03/1942. Aged 20. Before the war, he worked as a clerk in Belfast. Son of John and Martha Logan of 72 Kansas Avenue, Belfast. Carnmoney Cemetery
+TAIT, John McCalla
RAFVR. Flight Sergeant (Pilot).1063628. Died 26/03/1943. Aged 21. 78 Sqdn. Son of John James Taut and Jane C. Tait, of Holywood, Co. Down. Doetingchem (Looland) General Cemetery, Gelderland, Netherlands. Clogher WM
RAFV. Sergeant (Flight Engineer). 971349. Died 26/03/1944. Age 27. 10 Sqdn. Son of Alexander and Martha Kennedy, Paradise Avenue, Ballymena. Rhineberg War Cemetery, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
Royal Ulster Rifles.1st Btn. Lieutenant, 288791. Died 26/03/1945. Commissioned into the Royal Irish Fusiliers on 01/03/1944. Served as a Lieutenant in 8 Platoon A Company. An older brother, Captain William McGrath, DSO, No 74563, was killed in North Africa on 19/02/1942, while serving with the Royal Engineers. Coleraine Academical Institution. Son of James and Emily Dunlop McGrath, Mountsandal, Coleraine. Venray War Cemetery.
+THOMPSON, Stephen Thomas
RAF. Leading Aircraftman. 816056. Died 26/03/1945. Son of Simon C. and Margaret Thompson, Belfast. Singapore Memorial, Column 453. Singapore
Royal Ulster Rifles, 1st (Airborne) Btn. Rifleman. 7013415. Died 25/02/1942 as a result of shock following injuries caused by a bomb explosion. Aged 27. Son of Elizabeth Hogg, of Belfast. Belfast City Cemetery, Glenalina Extension
RAFVR. Leading Aircraftman. 1798640. Died 26/03/1947. Aged 22. Son of Owen and Margaret McCabe of Ballyward. Deehommed (St. Mary) Roman Catholic Churchyard
+WATSON, Henry De Landre
RAFVR. Flight Lieutenant. 148537. Died 26/03/1947. Age 23. 48 Sqdn. Royal Air Force Pre-Entry Course in 1941-1942 at QUB. Served with RAF 1913 – 45. After the war, Henry remained in South East Asia with RAF 48 Squadron. He was pilot of a Dakota KK120 on a regular flight over South China Seas between Singapore and Saigon. It disappeared and no trace of the aircraft was found, and weather may have been a factor. Born 29/01/1924. Son of Charles Sydney Waller Watson and of Esme M. Watson (nee de Landre), of Stramore House, Gilford. Singapore Memorial, Changi, Malaya, Column 460. now transferred to Kranji War Memorial, Singapore. Gilford WM. Dollingstown WM. QUB WM
Lt Leonard James Callaghan RNVR died age 93 on this day – 26/03/2005. Portsmouth born James joined the Royal Navy as an Ordinary Seaman in 1942, and was commissioned to RNVR in 1944. MP for Cardiff South in 1945 and in10 Downing Street as PM 1976-79. RN tattoos meant you never saw him in short sleeves.
CREERY, Robert Desmond Gibson
RNVR. After war service as a naval reservist he trained in paediatrics in London, Bristol, and Belfast. Consultant paediatrician in Cheltenham and Gloucester. Born 12/06/1921. Died 26/03/2017. WO. MB BCh BAO QUB (1942) MD(1947) DCH(1948) MRCP(1951) FRCP(1971)
MARTIN, Norman Todd
Norman Todd Martin, born 26/03/1896, son of Rev. Prof. W. Todd Martin, D.Litt., D.D., College House, College Green, Belfast, was the brother of Sidney Todd Martin. He attended Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge during 1914-15 and went to the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich in 1916. He was Lieut. Norman Todd Martin, Royal Field Artillery, from 1916-22. He won the M.C. He survived the war and was a schoolmaster from 1923-29. He attended University College, London, 1930-31 and got a B.Sc.in 1931. He was seconded for service as Education Officer, R.A.F. in 1936 and recalled to Artillery in May, 1940. He was promoted to Captain and released from Reserve in 1946. He retired to Old Coastguards House, Cushendall, Co. Antrim.
26/03/1917 – The British take Lagnicourt 6 miles NE of Bapaume. The French repulse several German attacks south of St. Quentin and throw the Germans back beyond the Barisis-Sevais line and take the village of Coucy-le-Chateau.
26/03/1918 – The Medium Mark A “Whippet” tank went into action for the first time against the German Spring Offensive.
Designed to assist the slower British heavy tanks, the Whippet proved itself successful on the battlefields of France, covering Infantry withdrawals and operating behind German lines against artillery and rear echelon troops.
In an incident at Cachy, a company of Whippets destroyed two German battalions after they were caught in the open.
The Whippet did it’s job as a light tank admirably and was involved in some of the very first tank battles in History. Five Whippets have survived today, one of which can be seen at the excellent Bovington Tank Museum along with the story of it’s commander and the VC he won.
26/03/1918 – The British make a stand north of the Somme on the line Roeux-Ayette-Beaumont Hamel-Albert-Bray, but lose Albert and Bray to the Germans. Very heavy fighting south of Somme with the Germans capturing Lihons, Chaulnes, Roye and Noyon.
26/03/1945 – General Patton dispatched 300-strong Task Force Baum to liberate prisoner of war camp OFLAG XIII-B near Hammelburg, 80 km behind German lines. 32 men were killed and about 200 were captured as the mission resulted in a complete failure.
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