February 25. Five Belfastmen lost in HMS Maharatta on Murmansk convoy. Roll of Honour

On this day in 1944, five men from Belfast were lost when the destroyer HMS Mahratta was torpedoed and sunk on a convoy to Murmansk, Russia. In 1943 William Crocker from Belfast and Anthony Maguire from Fermanagh fell serving with Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in Tunisia. Robert McDowell was awarded the Military Cross for “For conspicuous gallantry ” in Gallipoli in 1917 in an action in which his commanding officer was awarded a posthumous VC. After a short stay in hospital, Robert died with his battalion within a month of his MC award. Today’s veterans are Coleraine-connected Robert Keenan who served at Dunkirk, North Africa, and Italy, and Naval Reserve officer Ervin Wilson who served in home waters as well as South Africa, the Far East, Ceylon, Burma, and Australia. His 21st birthday was spent in the Indian Ocean. Post-war he became chief executive and managing director of Northern Bank in Ireland and a Trustee of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.

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