January 1. Belfast Mayor’s grandson lost in HMS Formidable. Roll of Honour

HMS Formidable was the second ship sunk by enemy action in WW1. In the ship were six from NI who perished. One was the teenage son of a well-known family. John Smiley Coey was a 16 year old Midshipman, a grandson of Belfast’s Mayor. John’s parents Edward and Mary lived in Merville House at Whitehouse. The Coey family were well-known benefactors of local causes. The family endowed Larne Grammar School and Sinclair Seaman’s Mission Church in Belfast. The family was associated with Whiteabbey and Gardenmore, Larne, Presbyterian churches. William John Newell from Ballymacarret was also lost. He was one of three brothers to serve in the Royal Navy during the war. His brother Thomas was lost in HMS Natal. In 1917 Skeffington Graham from Dunmurry died as a POW in Turkey where he served with the Naval Air Service’s Armoured Car Division. Stanley Nixon from Cliftonville, Belfast, emigrated to Canada and returned with their infantry to France. He later was commissioned into the Royal Flying Corps. He died this day in 1919 of pneumonia in hospital in France. Records amongst today’s Veterans – James Davis from Cookstown served on the North West Frontier in India, and the Boer War prior to WW1 service in Gallipoli and France. He reenlisted in the Chinese Labour Corps in July 1919 and was engaged on battlefield clearance. James Majury from Doagh was one of the North Irish Horse. In February and March 1918 the 1st NIH Regiment was dismounted and converted to a cyclist unit, serving as corps cyclists to V Corps for the remainder of the war. V Corps was on the Somme front on 21 August 1918 – the day the Advance to Victory offensive began in that sector. Majury was gassed was evacuated to the UK for treatment.

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