December 19. NI links with costliest New Zealand navy loss. Roll of Honour

On the night of 19 December 1941, there occurred one of the most extensive but least known naval disasters of the Second World War when HMS Neptune ran into an uncharted enemy minefield in the Mediterranean off Tripoli, and sank with the loss of 764 officers and men. Of the 764 men who lost their lives, 150 were New Zealanders. Nine men from Northern Ireland also lost their lives. They were from Belfast, Bangor, Larne, Limavady, Portadown and Cullion in County Tyrone. Robert Claney attended Bangor Grammar School and after leaving school he moved to Canada where he worked as a farmer.  He enlisted in Calgary on 27/04/1916. He died in 1916 with the Eastern Ontario Regiment. There are seven memorials associated with him in Bangor. In 1917 his brother Sam also died having been gassed.  Four Royal Navy men died in separate ships in 1941. Thomas Craig from Culmore was in HM Submarine Perseus. Albert Cole from Bangor and Jack Hartley from Moneymore were in HMS Stanley. The convoy escort was hit by two or three torpedoes, exploded, and immediately sank about 330 miles west of Portugal.

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