In 1918 the RAF was formed as a separate service, independent of the Army and the Royal Navy – the first time that any country had formed an entirely separate and independent air force. This day is also the anniversary of the founding of the Irish Guards in 1900 by Queen Victoria.
In 1917 William Fulton from Portstewart was lost in the minesweeper Duchess of Montrose. On the same day two brothers originally from Cookstown, Joseph and Thomas Wilson, died in a shell attack serving with the Black Watch.
Royal Artillery Captain John Gordon from Florida Manor suffered extensive wounds in the early days of WW2. Medics in Khartoum, Sudan, had to amputate his leg and hospital staff could not stop the bleeding. Samuel Boal DFC from Ballymena died in 1942 during an attack on shipping in the Skaggerak. In 1945 Bushmills-born Robert McAfee died from tuberculosis contracted serving with the Canadian navy in the Atlantic and Mediterranean. His father’s, brother’s, and uncle’s service is included in his entry in today’s Roll of Honour.
James Wilson from Broughshane is among today’s veterans. He rose to become a Major General in the army medical service and served in combat in India and South Africa before serving in France and Flanders throughout WW1. Retiring in 1921 he returned to Knowehead, Broughshane, and settled into the life of a country gentleman. An excellent shot, he was a keen member of the North of Ireland Gun-Dog Society and he was President of the Mid-Antrim Anglers’ Association.