January 23. Lisburn officer led Irish Brigade in north Africa. Roll of Honour

On this day in 1943 the British Army entered the Lybian city of Tripoli exactly three months since they had launched the offensive against the Afrika Korps at El Alamein. To the forefront were men from Northern Ireland. On The Queen’s Colours of the Royal Irish Regiment, there are six battle honours from the North African campaign. These were not won or awarded lightly. One of the key figures was Brigadier Nelson Russell MC (Photo) from Lisburn and a former student at Campbell College. After he retired from the army he was appointed Sergeant-at-Arms for the Northern Ireland Parliament. In today’s Roll of Honour are – Arthur Holmes, 502 Sqdn RAF, who died in 1941 and whose remains rest in Drumbeg Parish churchyard. Flying Officer (Pilot) William Maxwell, a QUB graduate from Woodvale Rd., Belfast, died in 1943. His remains were interred in Dundonald Cemetery. In 1944 Sergeant (Air Gunner) James Johnston from Clough was lost in air operations. He is remembered at Belgrade War Cemetery. Thomas Herriott, one of today’s veterans, served in both wars. Serving with the Royal Navy in WW1 he was awarded a DSC.(Heligoland and Zeebrugge), the Mercantile Marine Medal, and the Croix de Guerre (Belge). He played on the Ulster XV versus the All Blacks in 1919. Serving with the RAF in WW2 he became a Squadron Leader with the Pathfinder Force. A former student at Campbell College, he graduated in Engineering at Queen’s University.

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