December 17. Battle of the River Plate. Roll of Honour

On this day in 1939, the German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee – heavily damaged after the Battle of the River Plate – was scuttled off Montevideo, Uruguay. The captain, Hans Langsdorff, destroyed his vessel rather than surrender it to the Allies. He later shot himself. Two NI men were serving on Achilles – a New Zealand ship. Samuel Trimble, a Sergeant in the Royal Marines won the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal. William Freeman from Cookstown received a hero’s welcome when he returned to the town. Robert Caldwell from Newry was in a group from Exeter who were received by the Prime Minister for NI at Stormont. A presentation was made to William Moffatt at a midnight matinee in a Lisburn cinema. The local community made a presentation to David Withers at Killyleagh Castle. Also remembered today is Major William Hall of Narrow Water, Warrenpoint, who died in a bomb-throwing training accident at Newtownards Camp in 1917. William McKernan from Ballymena, an old stalwart in HMS Caroline died in 1940. Leonard Brown from Derry died in 1942 in HMS Firedrake, a destroyer torpedoed on Atlantic convoy patrol.

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