Daily posts for this month
January 01 – Amongst our Veterans today is one who was serving with 1st NIH Regiment when it was dismounted and converted to a cyclist unit, serving as corps cyclists to V Corps for the remainder of the war. He was one of four NIH who were affected by mustard gas bombardment at Beaumont Hamel. Photo – Pony Major Pte Mike Cochrane of the Parachute Regiment with Pegasus V in front of a Second World War Dakota aircraft at Colchester Barracks
January 01 – The first day of 1915 did not go well for the Royal Navy. Whilst on Channel patrol, in bad weather, the battleship HMS Formidable was torpedoed off Portland Bill at 0220 by U-24. 45 minutes later she was hit by a second torpedo. She remained afloat until 0345 and then sank, her Captain, Noel Loxley, remaining on the bridge accompanied by his Fox terrier ‘Bruce’. She sank quickly with 547 of the 780 crew perishing. Five from NI were lost.
January 02 – On This Day in 1945 Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay and four Royal Navy staff, (Cdr Rowell, LtCdr Lewis, Lt Henderson, PO Morgan), died when their plane crashed on take off from Toussus-le-Noble near Paris. Ramsay was responsible for Dunkirk evacuation and the Naval Forces on D-Day. William McCready from Portstewart served with Canadian forces in WW1. Details at –
January 03 – RSM Paul Dockrell of 3 Regiment Army Air Corps, with Zephyr, a female bald eagle adopted by the Army Air Corps at their HQ in Middle Wallop, Hampshire, as its first mascot in 2011. In today’s Roll a Belfast submariner lost in 1918, a Derry seaman who was at Jutland and survived the war, and the RN Officer who recovered the Enigma machine.
January 04 – Moving accounts of the wartime funeral of a young RAF man from Lurgan and the death of 6 Skins Adjutant caused by an air attack on a car he was in, form part of today’s Roll of Remembrance. Photo – Goat Major Fusilier Matthew Owen of 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh with Llywelyn, the regimental goat. Queen Victoria presented the first official goat in 1844.
January 05 – Today’s Roll records one of the greatest war crimes. Signalman David Millar from Stewartstown was executed in 1945 as a Japanese prisoner of war. He had been taken captive in Singapore in 1942. Photo – Wolfhound Major Robert Moore, with wolfhound Brian Boru X, the mascot of the Royal Irish Regiment, pictured on the Giant’s Causeway
January 06 – Alex Miller from Portstewart survived the sinking of HMS Majestic in the Dardanelles. Before the War he was a pilot of Coleraine Harbour Company. He was drowned off Portstewart on 6 January 1923 while working as a pilot. Named on Parish War Memorial.
January 07 – Within four months, on this day, the McAuley family of Ballygally lost a second son serving with RAF in WW2. A Cookstown man who returned with S African forces and survived Delville Wood died in action in WW1. Photo – Menin Gate at night
January 08 – Four WW2 from the three services comprise the Roll today. Wm Wright, 1RUR, from Londonderry was killed at Wavreville by enemy mortar fire
January 09 – Trincomalee War Cemetery is to the north of the city in Sri Lanka which was one of the largest RN bases for the war in the Indian Ocean and Pacific. One of the headstones shown is that of a Jewish member of the RAF. Today’s Roll includes NI men lost in HMS Racoon off Ireland in 1918
January 10 – This week in 1941 the mighty Avro Lancaster Bomber first flew. Cost approx £50,000, 7377 built, 3249 lost in action,156,000 sorties, 618,378 tonnes of bombs dropped, operated by approx 50 squadrons and just two left flying today. Navy doctor who helped the development of NI hospitals.
January 11 – On 11/01/1917 Royal Navy seaplane carrier HMS Ben-My-Chree (Woman of my heart, in Manx) is sunk by Turkish forces whilst supporting French troops on Kastellorizo off Turkey. All of the crew including Sam Ryan from Castlewellan were safely evacuated. Read Sam’s remarkable story in Survivors below. The Roll today includes a Cookstown man who came from the souternmost point of the South Island of New Zealand to serve, and a Petty Officer from LIsburn who survived a sinking in the Mediterranean on this day in 1941.
January 12 – Harry Hamilton from Portstewart served with the Inniskillings in WW1. A POW he later fought pneumonia and was in charge of Magilligan railway station.The sons of two clergymen feature in today’s Roll. An Instonian was a medical student from Belfast serving as a surgeon probationer whose ship was lost in a storm in WW1. An Old Campbellian, the son of an Irish missionary to China, was a naval chaplain in WW2.
January 13 – The Roll includes three Inniskillings who die in the first attack on Two Tree Hill in Tunisia and a RM Commando who died from wounds. This day 107 years ago – 13 January 1913 – the Ulster Volunteer Force was established, with the purpose of resisting the implementation of Home Rule. Dublin-born barrister and MP Edward Carson donated £10,000 to its formation, and the poet Rudyard Kipling donated £50,000.
January 13 – On 13 Jan 1915, the armed merchant cruiser HMS Viknor sank off the coast of County Donegal with all hands (295 dead). The cause of her loss is unconfirmed but it is likely she struck a German mine. Graves of crew members on Rathlin Island and Ballintoy are the focus of a yearly Act of Remembrance. Senior Naval Officer NI with mayor off Rathlin
January 14 – The WW2 entries today reflect the retreat to Dunkirk by an Ulster searchlight regiment and the war waged from the air over occupied Europe in 1944. Today’s WW1 veteran is Sam Anderson of Coleraine who lived to 80 years of age. Today’s photo whilst not from NI, tells more than enough about family service – the epitaph – “Eight of my sons answered duty’s call. Goodbye, Tom. The first to fall. Mother”
January 15 – The Royal Tank Regiment memorial at Beaurains. On This Day in 1953 HRH The Duke of Edinburgh was appointed as Admiral of the Fleet. He joined the Royal Navy in 1939 and served in WW2. He made Commander before retiring in 1952 in HM Accession. He has held a Naval Rank for 81 Years. The Roll today recalls four from WW2
January 16 – The Roll for WW2 today reflects warfare on land, at sea, and in the air. Photo – Sunrise over Seraucourt-le-Grand British Cemetery, near St Quentin and close to the area depicted in the “1917” film.
January 16 – Robert MacDonald serving in the RAF. Died 16/01/1942. Aged 38. His remains were interred in Coleraine Cemetery. We would welcome further info on his home address and next of kin. The Roll for WW2 today reflects warfare on land, at sea, and in the air. Photo – Sunrise over Seraucourt-le-Grand British Cemetery, near St Quentin and close to the area depicted in the “1917” film.
17 January 1942 – Five men from NI were lost when HMS Matabele on a convoy from Iceland to Murmansk was hit by a torpedo from the German submarine U-454. On the same day in a different arena an MTB under command of Sir Ivan Ewart came under German fire and, in the ensuing explosions he lost an eye and severely injured his right arm before becoming a prisoner in Colditz Castle. Photo – An icon of WW2: the Avro Lancaster in all its glory.
January 18 – Four Inniskilling Fusiliers are among those who fell on this day in WW2 in Rangoon, Tunisia, Minturno and Cassino in Italy. Photos of Bedford House War Cemetery.
January 19 – This Roll inludes an account of a young RN officer lost in heavy seas. Five RAF men are among those remembered. Photo – Ovillers Military Cemetery: On 1 July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, the 8th Division attacked Ovillers and the 34th Division La Boisselle. There are 3439 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in the cemetery.
January 20 – On This Day in 1944 ACM Sir Arthur Tedder assumes duties as Deputy Supreme Commander Allied Expeditionary Force and was responsible for the Allied air attacks preparing the Normandy invasion. After the War, he became Chief of the Air Staff, effectively the head of the RAF. The Roll today commemorates the service of 12 men from N Ireland.
January 21 – On this day in 1981, 86 year old veteran, Captain The Right Honourable Sir Norman Stronge Bt PC MC HML, Military Cross and the Belgian Croix de Guerre, was killed in his home at Tynan by PIRA. The Roll today commemorates four servicemen from NI.
January 22 – Company Serjeant-Major Scott of the Royal Irish Rifles, 14th (Young Citizens) Btn. kept a diary during the Great War. One entry consisted of the names of the ten men who were killed in the fighting at Authuile, near Martinsart. When he went home to Finaghy on leave later in the year he visited as many of the families of these men as he could find at the time. Sadly he did not survive to return to find those remaining on his list. Photo – Gaza War Cemetery.
January 23 – The Lochnagar crater – created by an underground explosive charge in a mine south of the village of La Boisselle in the Somme département. The explosives were secretly planted by the British during the First World War, to be ready for 1 July 1916, the first day on the Somme. In today’s Roll is Thomas Heriott, a veteran who served with the RNAS during the war and played for Ulster v The All Blacks in 1919. He served with the RAF Pathfinder Force in WW2.
January 24 – HMS Queen Elizabeth in Portsmouth – In today’s Roll is an officer who served with the Royal Naval Division. These were sailors in infantry role and the RND fought in all the major theatres in Europe. To the chagrin of some of the army brass, they maintained naval traditions in the trenches…including beards. An 18 year old WW2 RUR commando fell in the Netherlands.
January 25 – Today’s Roll contains the names of seven NI crew members of HMS Laurentic mined off Lough Swilly in WW1, and the name of John Beattie Dumigan of Carrickfergus who was lost on a convoy to Murmansk in a U-boat attack in WW2. Samuel Plant, a submariner, was married in Belfast on this day in 1942, he was lost in HM Submarine Olympus 16 months later.
January 26 – With the daily Roll today, there is a short account of the events which led to the Royal Irish Regiment being awarded a Battle Honour for their action in Gaza. Photo included of The Ploegsteert Memorial which commemorates many men who died in the Battle of Lys.
January 27 – The record of the Inniskilling Fusiliers is once again reflected in this Roll of commemoration. The names of three WW1 Fusiliers are recorded on the Thiepval Memorial. William Wylie from Aughnacloy fell near Naples in the WW2 Italian campaign.
January 28 – Today’s veteran remembered is Alex Ballentine, RAF aircrew, from Ballymena who was a prisoner of war at Stalag Luft III, the scene depicted in the film “The Great Escape”. Photo – At the time of the WW1 Armistice, Artillery Wood Cemetery in Belgium contained 141 graves (of which 42 were of Royal Artillery personnel), but it was then greatly enlarged when graves were brought in from the battlefields and small burial grounds around Boezinge. Total burials 1,307 of which 504 are unidentified.
January 29 – On this day in 1943 two men from NI were lost in HMS Avondale, and exactly a year later, three were lost in HMS Spartan. Today’s veteran is a Queen’s University medical officer who served during the Boer War and WW1 and whose grave is on St Helena. Photo – St Paul’s Cathedral, St Helena
January 30 – Todays Roll includes two from Ballymoney who died in WW2. William Johnson fell at Anzio, and Andrew McConnell at Berlin.The Newfoundland Escort Force Bell honours the sacrifices made protecting merchant convoys during World War II. Three bells were commissioned by Royal Navy and Royal Canadian Navy veteran associations. The bells are housed in Derry, Halifax, Nova Scotia and St John’s, Newfoundland.
January 31 – Emma Duff who served as a VAD Nurse in both world wars is remembered in the veterans Roll today. This is also the anniversary of the Battle of May in 1918 when RN submarines collided during an exercise in which three from NI died. In today’s Roll, men from Belfast, Bessbrook, Derry, Dungannon, Newry, and Portstewart.