April 13 – Roll of Honour and Foundation of Royal Flying Corps

On this day in 1912, The Royal Flying Corps is founded. By the end of the year, it will have a fleet of 12 balloons and 36 aircraft. A former sergeant of the North Irish Horse from Antrim, and a former Inniskillings officer from Coleraine who died serving with the RFC are in today’s Roll. A former Petty Officer from Londonderry who survived the sinking of HMS Repulse by the Japanese is in today’s record of remarkable veterans.

Representing their comrades who died on this day


+MITCHELL, Arthur Gorman
Royal Irish Rifles attached to 2nd Btn. Second Lieutenant. Died 13/04/1916. Age 18. Campbell College. Medical student QUB. Born 1890. Son of Lt Colonel Arthur and Mrs Mabel Mitchell, University Square, Belfast. Ecoirvres Military Cemetery, Mont – St – Eloi


+FLANAGAN, William Henry Murray.
Royal Irish Rifles, 12th Btn. Rifleman. 10310. Died 13/4/1917. Age 23. Enlisted at Belfast possibly in 11 RIR and served in 12 RIR. He may have embarked for France from Bordon Camp with 11 RIR in October 1915. He was the son of Robert Henry and Martha Flanagan of 129 Dunluce Avenue, Belfast and brother of Hugh Flanagan. His brother Lance Corporal Hugh Edmond Flanagan, 41229, 9th Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers, killed in action 22/11/1917. Hugh was 21 years of age and is commemorated on the Cambrai Memorial, Louverval, France. (Northern Whig 16th May 1918). William is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, Belgium

+GAWLEY, Andrew
Royal Irish Fusiliers, 1st Btn. Private. 24906. Died 13/04/1917. Aged 28. Son of Andrew and Lizzie Gawley, of Cappy, Tynan, Co. Armagh. Andrew was born about 1890. The 1901 census records 11 year old Andrew as living with the family at Tannaghlane, Caledon, Tyrone. His father was a farmer. Aubigny Communal Cemetery Extension, as de Calais, France. Dungannon WM

+HILL, Samuel George

RNVR. Lieutenant. HM ML534. Died 13/4/1917. Age 36. Action in Adriatic Sea. Son of Thomas Hill, Hillhead, Mullaghdubh, Islandmagee. Husband to Elizabeth Sturgeon Hill, Hillstead, Blessington, Co. Wicklow. Tarranto Town Cemetery. Belfast Royal Academy WM. IMR

Australian Machine Gun Corps, 4th Company. Lieutenant. Died 13/04/1917.
George Kirkland was the eldest son of James and Frances Kirkland. He was born on 07/06/1888 in Kilrea. He was one of six children. His father was a draper. By 1901, they had moved to Belfast. George was husband to May Kirkland and they had at least one child, Frances Annette Kirkland. George had served five years of an apprenticeship as a weaver in a linen factory in Belfast before emigrating to Australia. He was a labourer before enlisting. He was promoted three times and injured three times before dying of wounds two days after been captured. Hem-Lenglet Communal Cemetery, Cambrai, Nord, France

+STUART, James Maitland
Royal Flying Corps and 1st Bn. Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Captain. Died 13/04/1917. Aged 20. 59th Sqdn. Son of Annie M. Stuart, of Somerset, Coleraine, and the late James Stuart. Arras Flying Services Memorial, Pas de Calais, France


+ALLISON, Frederick Miles
Coldstream Guards, 3rd Btn. Private.13642. Died 13/04/1918. Frederick Miles Allison was born in Old Catton, Norfolk, England on 24/10/1884. After the death of his father, the remainder of the family moved into Norwich, where, in 1901, Frederick, age 16, was a timber merchant’s clerk. The 1911 census lists Frederick Miles Allison as 26 years old. He has been married for one year to Sophia Jane. He was employed as an agricultural labourer. They lived in Edencrannon, Castlecaulfield. Ploegsteert Memorial, Hainaut, Belgium. Castlecaulfield C of I RH

+MEREDITH, Edward Myles
RFC. Lieutenant. Formerly North Irish Horse. Died 13/04/1918. Meredith enlisted in the North Irish Horse on 02/04/1915 (No.1470). He rose to the rank of sergeant and in 1916 applied for a commission. On 26/09/1916 he was appointed 2nd lieutenant and
posted to the General List, for duty with the Royal Flying Corps. On 13 October he was posted to Oxford and on 9 December to the Cheltenham School of Aviation. On 25/04/1917 he was posted to the No.8 Reserve Squadron. Six weeks later he was injured, taking him out of active duty for three months.

Meredith married Annie Elizabeth Gray of Bloomfield House, Church Street, Antrim, at the Second Antrim Church (High Street Presbyterian) on 14/12/1917.

On 26/03/1918 Meredith was promoted to lieutenant
and eleven days later embarked for France, where he
joined 21 Squadron at La Lovie on the Ypres front. The squadron was flying R.E.8s in an artillery spotting and reconnaissance role. On 13/04/1918 21 Squadron moved to a new base at St Inglevert. On that day Meredith was killed in a flying accident at or near the Droglandt airfield while transporting an R.E.8 to the new base. His flying companion, 2nd Lieutenant Austin Edward Heyes, died of his injuries the following day. Haringhe (Bandaghem) Military Cemetery, Poperinge, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.


+VANCE, William
Machine Gun Corps (Infantry). Private. 48563. Died 13/04/1919. Aged 39. Son of Joseph H. Vance, of Drumagarner, Kilrea, Co. Londonderry. He was born in Greenisland, Carrickfergus or Ballyclare about 1880. The family moved to Drumagarner, Kilrea around 1915. William enlisted in 1915. He died of pneumonia in hospital in Belfast. Carnmoney Cemetery.


+GRAY, George
RNVR. Acting Sub Lieutenant (E). HMS Rajputana. Died: 13/04/1941. Age: 26. Son of James and Emma Gray, Dungannon. Liverpool Naval Memorial, Panel 4. Dungannon WM


+MAHAFFY, William Matchett
RAFVR. Sergeant. 969454. Died 13/04/1942. Aged 34. 158 Sqdn. Son of William Irwin Mahaffy and Jeannie Mahaffy, Bangor. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Germany.


+SIMPSON, Joseph

Royal Norfolk Regiment. 7th Btn. Private. 5773490. Died 13/04/1943. Age 22. Poznan Old Garrison Cemetery, Poland.


+LYTLE, Samuel Alexander
RAFVR. Flying Officer. 154919. Died 13/04/1945. Aged 21. 298 Sqd. Son of William and Agnes Lytle; Nephew of Miss T. Lytle, Belfast. Amsterdam New Eastern Cemetery, Netherlands

+SHAW, Albert Conn
Royal Ulster Rifles, 2nd Btn. Rifleman. 7014036. Died 13/04/1945. Aged 22. Becklingen War Cemetery, Niedersachsen, Germany

Royal Ulster Rifles, 2nd Btn. Rifleman.7601237. Died 13/04/1945. Aged 21. Becklingen War Cemetery, Niedersachsen, Germany

+TWEEDY, Samuel
Royal Ulster Rifles, 2nd Btn. Rifleman.14428101. Died 13/04/1945. Aged 19. Son of Samuel and Mary Tweedy, of Belfast. Becklingen War Cemetery, Niedersachsen, Germany


BATEMAN, Shawn Cato

RAFVR. Flight Lieutenant. DFM. RAFPE. QUB, Med 1941
During the second world war he trained as a navigator/wireless operator and did an operational tour in photographic reconnaissance Mosquitoes in the 2nd Tactical Air Force. For his bravery he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal. He studied medicine after the war and, following spells as an assistant in general practice, he joined British Airways as a medical officer, looking after staff and passengers at Manchester Airport. He took part in various research projects, including a study of the effect on time zone changes on sleep patterns. He left a wife, Beryl; and a daughter. Former British Airways medical officer Manchester Airport (born Coleraine, Northern Ireland, 1924; Son of Godfrey Bateman and Eveline Maud Bateman. Qualified Queen’s University, Belfast, 1952), died from cardiac failure on 13/04/2004. (BMJ obit Published 08 July 2004)

BURNS, Tommy
Petty Officer. In HMS Repulse when it was sunk together with HMS Prince of Wales 10/12/1941. He was up the mast sending out the message that the ship was sinking.
Tommy from Steelstown, Londonderry, decided to join the Royal Navy rather than place a financial burden on his parents for grammar school education. When he went to Belfast to enlist he had not been out of Londonderry before save for Sunday school excursions to Fahan. From HMS Ganges where he excelled in examinations, he was transferred to the Cornwall which sailed immediately to the Mediterranean on a training exercise. They called at Gibraltar on their way to Barcelona. This was at the time of the Spanish Civil War and Tom remembered being diverted to evacuate some people to Las Palmas. On his return to England Tom was drafted firstly to HMS Revenge and then to HMS Repulse which was to be his home for the next three years.

In 1939 the Repulse was commissioned to take King George and Queen Elizabeth to America with special cabins fitted out for them. However because of the worsening situation in Europe this trip was cancelled.

An alternative trip was arranged and Tom remembers then his ship having to escort the SS Queen Elizabeth to Canada.

HMS Repulse was then sent on what was to be a fateful mission to the Far East. Sailing around the Cape as they couldn’t go through the Suez Canal, Tom remembers calling at St Helena and taking photographs of where Napoleon was held captive. They also called at Durban where General Smuts and his daughters came aboard to wish the ship’s company all the best going off to war with the Japanese.

One morning as the ship was sailing up the Malaysian Coast the alarm bells went off and Action Stations was sounded.

“I saw many boys being brought down with blood everywhere. Many were wounded and some half-dead. The Japs were machine-gunning them. They were taken below to be treated by Doctor Cavanagh from Derry. He also was killed.

“The skipper shouted to abandon ship and most of the boys who got away were in the water. Bob Lee and I were fortunate to get out onto B gun deck as a reinforced steel door had been left open.

“The ship was well down in the water as we jumped over the side and Bob hit his back as he went down. I never saw him after that but I know he was saved.

“I swam around and eventually got on board a destroyer called the Electra. They had wire netting all around the side for us to climb up. All I had on was a pair of shorts, nothing else. Everybody else was the same.”

After being rescued there was no respite for Tommy who was sent to a transmission site in Singapore. They got out just before the Japanese arrived.
Later he served at Sea Eagle in Derry. During his time in Sea Eagle Tom was drafted twice to the Far East during the Korean War for a period of ten months and was now ready to settle down at home with his wife Elaine. Margery Elaine nee Struthers pre-deceased him. He was a brother of Margaret, Billy, Herbert, George, Jim, and Iris. A supporter of Waterside RBL Branch. Died aged 93, 13/04/2013. Buried Altnagalven Cemetery. (BBC and Londonderry Sentinel 18/05/2013).

RN. CERA. In HMS Bellona on Russian convoy escort when U boat was sunk and many German aircraft were downed. Lisburn. (Lisburn Standard 13/04/1945)

RM. Corporal. Captain of the gun on cruiser HMS Adventure, Captain RG Bowes Lyon, MVO, RN. On 13/04/1943 off Cape Finisterre, the guns of Adventure brought about the end of Silvapana, a German blockade runner with vital raw material “sufficient to equip three German armoured divisions for a year”. It was inward bound from the Far East with a cargo of rubber and tin. Although well armed the Germans scuttled their ship. A photograph of the gun crew is held as part of the Admiralty Official Collection by the Imperial War Museum. From Waringstown.

FRENCH, Herbert
RN. Survived HMS Rajputana being torpedoed by U – boat in N Atlantic 13/04/1941. One of 277 rescued four hours after the ship went down with a loss of 40 men. Herbert was in his third year of service. Two weeks later his twin brother Albert, age 26, who had been in the navy a year was killed in HMS Diamond when the destroyer was sunk by German air attack south of Greece in the eastern Mediterranean. There were no survivors. Died 01/10/1996. Son of John and Agnes French, Randalstown



The Royal Flying Corps (RFC) was formed by Royal Warrant and came into being a month later in May when the Air Battalion was absorbed into the Military Wing of the new Corps. The Royal Flying Corps was the air arm of the British Army before and during the WW1, until it merged with the Royal Naval Air Service on 01/04/1918 to form the Royal Air Force. During the early part of the war, the RFC supported the British Army by artillery co-operation and photographic reconnaissance.


Battle of Bailleul – 9th Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers forced to retire. Excellent work by Major Holt Waring (of Waringstown) collecting the stragglers and those returning took them forward again at once and successfully counterattacked and regaining the lost ground

A fierce engagement between German and British naval forces in the second battle of Narvik at Jassing Fjord, which results in the sinking of 8 German destroyers and a U-Boat whose surviving crews join Gebirgsjager units defending isolated Narvik.

HMS Punjabi was commissioned in March 1939. She fulfilled several roles and operations including being deployed off Narvik as a screen for operations during the Second Battle of Narvik. On 13/04/1940, she engaged a number of German destroyers, receiving six hits and being disabled for an hour before she could resume service. Punjabi was deployed on 26/04/1942 as part of the screen providing distant cover for the passage of Convoy PQ-15. They sailed from Hyalfjordur on 29/04/1942. On 01/05/1942, she was rammed and sunk in a collision with the battleship HMS King George V in foggy conditions

At Tobruk, Libya, Corporal John Edmondson counter-attacked a German breakthrough at bayonet-point. He was severely wounded but carried on saving the life of his officer and personally accounting for several of the enemy soldiers. He died from his wounds shortly after and was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, the first awarded to an Australian in the Second World War.

German advance spearheads capture Sollum. Rommel receives orders from Berlin that he is to consolidate on the Egyptian frontier and concentrate of capturing Tobruk. Only then will he be allowed to push into Egypt. The result of this order is that Rommel decides to rest his exhausted troops and wait until the 15th Panzer Division arrives at the end of May before making a major assault against Tobruk.

British Naval forces, this time supported by the Battleship HMS Warspite, again engage the German naval forces located at Narvik in the Jassing Fjord. This, the 2nd Battle of Narvik, results in the sinking of 7 German destroyers and a U-boat whose surviving crews join Gebirgsjager  units that are defending isolated Narvik.

German forces launch an attack against the Greek and British positions near Mt. Olympus. The Italian 11th Army in Albania begins to push the Greek Army back.
German troops capture Belgrade, Yugoslavia.

Japan and Russia sign a 5-year non-aggression pact, which all but removes any military threat to its northern borders.


he US destroyer USN Roper, sinks U-85 south of Norfolk, Virginia. This is the first success of the war by a US warship against a U-boat.
Fighting continues on Cebu Island, as the US-Filipino garrison withdraws in to the hills.

The German radio broadcasted the news about the discovery in Katyn Forest of mass graves of Polish prisoners of war murdered by Soviet NKVD in 1940.


Simferopol, Feodosiya and Eupatoria in the Crimea fall to Red Army.
British troops retake Nanshigum Hill.


A local truce is declared near Celle so that the British Second Army can take over the notorious Belsen concentration camp. The U.S. Ninth Army clears the Duisberg Pocket. The US Third Army captures Erfurt and Weimar.
Troops of the Russian 2nd and 3rd Ukrainian front capture Vienna.
The Chinese launch a new offensive in Honan and Hupeh provinces of Central China.
The U.S. Fleet begins the pre-invasion bombardment of Ie Island in the Pacific.

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