August 19 . NI’s Japanese POWs. Belfast’s Aguila Wren. Roll of Honour

Chief Petty Officer George Thompson of Castlerock survived the Battle of the River Plate, the sinking of HMS Exeter, and three years as a Japanese PoW. He is one of 25 Japanese PoWs recorded today. Third Officer Alix Bruce from Belfast was amongst the first draft of 22 WRNS who were permitted to serve overseas. They boarded the SS Aquila in Liverpool. On this day in 1941 the ship was attacked by a wolfpack. 19 lives were lost including the WRNS. Today in 1942 the Allies tried to open up a new front on the French coast near Dieppe. It was one of the most expensive Allied operations of the war in terms of casualties. Thousands of men died including four recorded in today’s Roll of Honour from NI. They were RAF aircrew Austin Boyd from Belfast, Harry Connolly from Lisburn with HMS Caroline reservists, former Rockport student Colin Haslett from Greenisland, and Edward Rodgers from the Shankill, Belfast. The role of airborne forces is reflected in two entries for 1944. Francis Duggan from Aghadowey and Henry Pitt from Londonderry died in France. Photo – The Aguila Wren Memorial at the National Arboretum.

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