August 26. Jimmy Hughes, Gunner and RBL stalwart. Roll of Honour

Photo – Red Arrows over New York. In 1914 Charles O’Donnell was the first man from Londonderry to die in WW1. George Campbell Wheeler son of a Belfast surgeon won the VC 1917. In 1940 two Gunners died this day in Egypt. John McMeeking and George Millar from Ballymena were the first fatalities of the 9th (Londonderry) Heavy Anti Aircraft Regiment at the beginning of its five years service overseas. In 1942 Leslie Craig from Strabane died when his Vickers Wellington bomber was attacked over Belgium following a raid on Frankfurt, Germany. The people of Rienne near Namur provided a military-style funeral and tended the graves, treating the men as heroes in the fight against Nazism. Redmond Taggart, one of today’s veterans, worked with the family firm WDR & RT Taggart, Architects and Civil Engineers, from 1946 to the late 1960’s. A RNVR. Commander, he joined HMS Caroline in 1927. He was in HMS Foylebank, a merchant ship converted to an AA cruiser, when in June 1940 the ship was dive-bombed at Portland Harbour and sunk with heavy casualties. He was Gunnery Officer on HMS Queen Elizabeth, subsequently flagship of Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham, C-in-C Mediterranean, and took part in the passage of the last through the Med convoy to Alexandria. In May 1941 he was present at the evacuation of troops from Crete. HMS Queen Elizabeth was still based at Alexandria when she and other ships were attacked by Italian ‘Charioteers’ and badly damaged.

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