In 1918 the RAF was formed as a separate Service, independent of the British Army and the Royal Navy – the first time that any country had formed an entirely separate and independent air force. This day is also the anniversary of the founding of the Irish Guards in 1900 by Queen Victoria.
Representing their comrades who died on this day
Royal Field Artillery Service, 32nd Div. Ammunition Col. Shoeing Smith. 79839. Died 01/04/1917. Aged 31. Youngest son of Patrick and Sarah Carbery, of Dungannon. Warlincourt Halte British Cemetery, Saulty, Pas de Calais, France. Dungannon WM
+GRAY, William Francis
Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, 2nd Btn. “C” Coy. Private. 14346. Died 01/04/1917. Aged 20. Son of Hugh and Mary Jane Gray, of 33, Wilson St, Belfast. Save British Cemetery, Aisne, France
+HOWE, Henry George
Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, 2nd Btn. Sergeant. 8828. Died of wounds 01/04/1917. Aged 27. Husband to Mrs. H Howe of Marlborough Terrace, Londonderry. He was born in Rawalpindi, India, to Henry and Jane of 42, Kimberley Street, Ormeau Road, Belfast. Foreste Communal Cemetery, France.
+PAISLEY, David Gordon
Black Watch, 1st/16th Bn. (Royal Highlanders ). Private. 265817. Died 01/04/1917. He was on R&R when the building in which they were quartered was hit by shells. Son of Mary Elizabeth and the late William Campbell Paisley of Larne. Maroeuil British Cemetery,Pas de Calais,
+GORDON, John Eyre Gisborne
Royal Artillery. Captain. 71018. Died 01/04/1941. Aged 23. According to his sister, John suffered extensive wounds in the early days of the war. Medics had to amputate his leg and hospital staff could not stop the bleeding. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant on 28/01/1937. Born 17/05/1917. He was the son of Sir Eyre Gordon (Companion of Order of Star India / Companion of Order of Indian Empire) and Lady Lilias Edith Gordon (née Lenox Napier). The family lived first at Florida Manor, Killinchy, Co. Down and then Delamont House, Killyleagh, Co. Down. Son of Sir Eyre Gordon, C.S.I., C.I.E. and Lady Gordon (nee Lenox Napier), of Newcastle, Co. Down. Brother of Patricia Lilias Gordon. Khartoum War Cemetery, Sudan
RAFVR. Sergeant (Wireless Op./Air Gunner).1059215. Died 01/04/1942. Aged 21. He died in an aviation accident north of Grove Farm, Beeston Fields, Biggleswade, Bedfordshire. At 1945hrs Lockheed Hudson Mark III AE558 took off on a training flight. After 2 circuits from RAF Oulton, Norfolk, via Banbury and Hungerford, the plane had been in the air for 2 hours 50 minutes. Witnesses heard the engines running normally at a height of around 1,000 feet. Minutes later, they made a popping sound and cut out. The plane came down and burst into flames on impact killing all the crew members on board. A board of enquiry found the engines had likely starved of fuel. The cause was probably that an inexperienced pilot had not changed over from an empty fuel tank to a full one. Son of William George Luney and of Mary Ann Luney (nee) Forbes, of Walthamstow, Essex. William Luney’s name is on a family memorial in Belfast City Cemetery, Glenalina Extension
+BOAL, Samuel McCaughey
RAF. Wing Commander. 37713. DFC. Died 01/04/1942. 217 Sqdn. He was killed whilst flying in Beaufort I, AW196 of 217 Sqn, which flew into the sea during an attack on shipping in the Skaggerak. Son of Hugh and Annie Boal, of Ballymena, husband to Joy Boal, of Leamington Spa, Warwickshire. Runnymeade Memorial, Panel 64. First Ballymena Presbyterian Church RH
RN. D/SSX 18344. Died 01/04/1942. Age 22. HMS Croome. Joined as a Boy at age 17 and was within a few weeks of his23rd birthday. His father served with Royal Irish Rifles in WW1. Son of Andrew and Margaret Stewart, Cambrai Pk., Whiteabbey. (Belfast Weekly Telegraph 10/04/1942). Gibraltar (North Front) Cemetery
RN. Chief Engine Room Artificer. P/272124. Died 01/04/1944. Age: 54. HMS Greenwich. Son of Robert and Emily Vivash, Donaghadee. Glasgow (Cardonald) Cemetery.
WILSON, James Barnett
Major General. CB. CMG. C de G. QCB MB 1883. Captain Jan 1886. Colonel Mar 1915. Served NW Frontier, India 1897 – 98, S Africa 1901 – 02. ADMS and DDMS 1918. Born 1862. Son of William Orr Wilson, Ballymena. Husband to Kathleen. Died 01/04/1956, Broughshane
MENARY, George Herbert
Royal Artillery. 8th HAA Regt. 21 Bty. Sergeant. Died 01/04/1949. Born in Belfast 22/11/1906. George Menary served in Dunkirk, France in 1940 with the 8th (Belfast) HAA Regiment. In 1940, he received a promotion to Bombardier while based in Coventry during the Luftwaffe’s Blitz on major UK cities. One year later, in 1941, another promotion came, this time to Sergeant. After serving in Europe and the United Kingdom, Menary found himself in India where he was Pay Sergeant for 21 Battery. Dundonald Cemetery.
1900 – The Irish Guards was formed on 1 April 1900 by Queen Victoria in recognition of the many acts of courage and bravery performed by Irish Regiments during the Second Boer War.
1918 – The RAF was officially formed on the 1 April 1918 with the amalgamation of the Royal Naval Air Service and the Royal Flying Corps. Following which Lord Rothermere was appointed on 3 January 1918 as the first Secretary of State for Air and an Air Council established.
To emphasise the merger of both army and naval aviation in the new service, to appease the ‘senior service’ i.e. the Navy, many of the titles of officers were deliberately chosen to be of a naval character, such as Flight Lieutenant, Wing Commodore, Group Captain and Air Commodore.
The newly created Royal Air Force was the most powerful air force in the world on its creation, with over 20,000 aircraft and over 300,000 personnel (including the Women’s Royal Air Force). It now qualifies as the oldest independent Air Force in the World.
1941 – General Platt and his ‘Northern Force’ capture Asmara, the capital of Eritrea. A pro-axis coup, led by Raschid Ali seizes power in Iraq.
The Japanese force the Chinese out of Toungoo, north of Rangoon.
Japanese begin landing in Dutch New Guinea.
1944 – 2 LIR, with 38 Irish Brigade, April 1944: ”The Bn was sent up to relieve the French on Monte Castellone. 3 companies were almost on the crest – the 4th was in reserve. Supplies were brought up by mules. A Echelon was 8 miles away in the Rapido Valley & the supply-route was under shell & mortar fire.”
1945 –The Battle of Okinawa commenced. The U.S. Tenth Army, with 1,457 ships in support, invades Okinawa which is 325 miles from Japan. 60,000 troops land unopposed and establish an 8-mile bridgehead.It was the last major battle and one of the bloodiest of World War II in the Pacific
The U.S. First and Ninth Armies link up at Lippstadt cutting off a third of a million German troops in the Ruhr area. The U.S. First Army enters Hamm, 40 miles Northeast of Essen.
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