August 10. The UVF dry land sailors honoured by the Tzar. Roll of Honour

Walter Smyles, grandfather of Bear Grylls, was among the 111 Royal Navy personnel from Northern Ireland who were involved in what is perhaps the most bizarre linking of Irish politics with the international relations of the First World War. These men from the UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force) armed with Canadian rifles which were most likely smuggled in avoiding the Royal Navy, served on the Western Front and then in the Russian empire in what has been dubbed “The Czar’s British Squadron” – an armoured car squadron of the Royal Naval Air Service. Three of the armoured cars in the squadron were christened ‘Ulster’, ‘Londonderry’ and ‘Mountjoy’. Lieut Walter Dorling Smiles, R.N.V.R. was awarded the DSO for his bravery in Russia. Today’s report includes an account of the formation of the Squadron and a Roll of Honour of those who served in it. Two Ballymoney men served – Edward Benson, son of the Rector, and John PInkerton, uncle of John Pinkerton, DLL, President of Ballymoney RBL. In the Roll of Honour for today are 16 men who died in Gallipoli in 1915. In the entry of Owen Conlon there is an extract from the diaries of James Healy Hamill Pollock from Ballymoney, Co Antrim, who served as Machine Gun officer with 6th Royal Irish Rifles, which was part of the 10th (Irish) Division. It makes for the starkest of reading. On the same day in Europe battles around Ypres continued, claiming the lives of Edward Lennox of Kilrea, and Patrick McKee of Holywood. The names of 23 who fell in 1917 include 15 from the Royal Irish Rifles. In 1943 three Royal Ulster Riflemen died in a train crash at the station at Scarborough. One of them, William Hall from Glynn, was the son of an LMS train driver. David McClatchey a former member of First Portadown BB Company died at Cassino with the RUR. He is named on Portadown WM and St. Mark’s Parish Church WM.

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