The Second World War in Northern Ireland

The Second World War in Northern Ireland

Greater Belfast Part 7

Here is a comprehensive look at those who lost their lives during the Second World War and are buried in Belfast City Cemetery.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission say that there are a total of 565 War Graves in this Cemetery of which 274 are from the Second World War.

Those who are buried here and lost their lives during the Luftwaffe Air Raid on the Military Hospital at Campbell College are included in the Greater Belfast Part 1 Section.

The Belfast Blitz Mass Grave

Blitzed Families

The Douglas Family lived at 8 Ballynure Street off the Oldpark Road in Belfast.

William Douglas was serving with the Royal Artillery on the night of 15th / 16th April 1941 when the Luftwaffe blitzed Belfast.

His family had been staying at 4 Ballynure Street when it was bombed.

Wife Emily was 29 years old

Son Samuel was 9 years old

Son William was 8 years old

Son James was 7 years old

Daughter Margaret was 5 years old

Daughter Sarah was 12 months old

The Clarke Family lived at 4 Ballynure Street and their fatalities were:-

Jeremiah (Husband) aged 49, Lavinia (Wife) aged 49, Robert aged 26, Jeremiah Gerald aged 17, William aged 15, John aged 13, Cecil aged 12, Desmond aged 10.

The Douglas Family headstone lists all five children however according to the book "Written in Stone" by Tom Hartley there are only three of the children buried here with their mother with no record of either Samuel or James which leads me to conclude that the remains of these two young children were never identified or located.

The Douglas Family headstone is immediately beside that of Sarah and Samuel McGladdery who lived at 12 Kendal Street off the Shankill Road.

Sarah died when their home was bombed however her Husband Samuel was Injured and taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital however he died later the same day.

The McGladdery headstone reads "In loving Memory of our Dear Parents Samuel and Sarah McGladdery Killed by Enemy Action 16th April 1941"

Norwegian Sailors

These are the headstones of three Norwegian Sailors of the Merchant Marine.
Halvard Halgjem, 45 years, died 6th December 1942
John Jansen, 29 years, died 13th December 1941
Karl Rygve Karlsen, 52 years, died 20th December 1941

Killed By A "Hedgehog"

On 11th April 1945 H.M.C.S. Strathadam was in the Atlantic Ocean as part of Escort Group E.G.25 and was carrying out an attack on a suspected U-Boat.

The "Hedgehog" was a mortar throwing system as ahown below.

During this action one of the Hedgehogs exploded killing six of the Crew whose headstones are shown here. (Public Domain photographs)

John Charles Griffon Comish, James Thorpe Friend, Harold Beatty Jones, Clifford Irwin Purdy, Alfred George Shimmin and Dennis William Andrew McEwen.

Consolidated Liberator AL 577

Consolidated Liberator AL 577 was with 108 Squadron, Royal Air Force based at Headquarters Middle East.

On 15th March 1942 it took off from R.A.F. Fayid in Egypt with a Crew of 6 and 13 Passengers - All of whom were experienced members of 108 Squadron and whose task was to collect new Liberator Aircraft and prepare them for the long journey back to North Africa.

During the long flight the weather gradually worsened and it became obvious that radio assistance would be required to be able to land safely.

The Wireless Operator was unable to raise any Stations and believing they were over England the Pilot reduced height to 2000 Feet.

Having flown for 15 Hours, and knowing they only had fuel for 15 1/2 Hours, the Captain recognised the City of Dublin in the Neutral Republic of Ireland and as two of the four engines began to fail he flew North towards Northern Ireland with the hope of landing safely.

Fuel was running out and the aircraft was loosing height before finally crashing on Slievenaglogh Mountain in County Louth, Republic of Ireland with the loss of 15 of those on board.

The four survivors were treated initially at Dundalk Hospital before being transferred initially to Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry, County Down and then Stranmillis Military Hospital in Belfast.

Some of those who were killed in this Accident are buried in Belfast City Cemetery.

Shown on the right is the Headstone of the Pilot, Flight Sergeant Lindsay Ross Williams.

Below left is Flight Lieutenant Francis Charles Barrett (Holder of the Distinguished Flying Cross) who was operating as Air Gunner.
The remaining three Victims were all Passengers.
Flight Sergeant Carlton Stokes Goodenough of the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Flight Sergeant Herbert William Thornley Sloman of the Royal Australian Air Force.
Pilot Officer George Frederick King of the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Shownhere is a Consiladed Liberator similar to AL577 which is shown on the ground in Fayed, Egypt. (IWM Photograph)

H.M.S. Whittaker 

Lieutenant John Alan Schwartz was serving aboard H.M.S. Whittaker when at 02.10 on 1st November 1944 the ship was torpedoed by U-483 of the North Coast.

The ship caught fire and much of it's Bow was totally destroyed.

Having initially been towed to Londonderry it was subsequently brought to Belfast for repair.

A total of 79 men were killed in the attack including Lieutenant Schwartz. (Picture From

Bristol Beaufort Aircraft Crash AW277

On 29th March 1943 Bristol Beaufort AW277 was involved in a Navigation Exercise with Number 5 Operational Training Unit.

Unfortunately the aircraft flew in to electric cables on Colin Mountain and crashed with the loss of all on board.

Sergeant Thomas Charles Stevens, who was the Navigator / Bomb Aimer is the only Crew Member buried in Belfast City Cemetery with the Pilot, Sergeant McKinley, having been laid to rest in Strabane Cemetery.

Bristol Beaufort Aircraft are shown below (Public Domain photograph)

Norman Maclean of S.S. Stanleigh

Sailor Norman Maclean was on board S.S. Stanleigh when it was in Convoy off Liverpool Bay.

During the night the ship was attacked by the Luftwaffe and began to sink. Crew Members got into a lifeboat however tragically the ship then rolled onto the Lifeboat which contained the Crew.

Fairey Battle Aircraft Crash P6601 

Sergeant Peter Frank Morris was flying 226 Squadron Fairey Battle P6601 on 23rd October 1940.

Sergeant James McMaster was the Wireless Operator / Air Gunner with him. During the flight the aircraft crashed into hills near Cushendall in County Antrim.

Sergeant Morris may have died instantly while Sergeant McMaster died the following day of wounds received.

Shown below is a Fairey Battle similar to the one they were flying.

Bristol Beaufort Aircraft Crash DX134

Sergeant William Wilson Kirby was with Number 1 Operational Training Unit and was in Bristol Beaufort DX 134 on a Map Reading and Air Sea Rescue Training Flight when the aircraft crashed at 18.00 at Church Island bear Bellaghy in County Londonderry.

There were no survivors however the Accident Report states that  “ it seems fairly apparent that the pilot was making a forced landing on open ground, but his approach took him over a church. It seems that to avoid hitting the church spire, he stalled the aircraft at approx 100 feet and crashed in a very steep angle just beyond the church building.” It also stated the “port engine was suspect. The pilot had trimmed the aircraft to fly on starboard engine. Traces of white metal were found in the oil. Engine being inspected.”

Wellington Aircraft Crash X3599

Vickers Wellington Mark III X3599 of 57 Squadron had taken off from R.A.F. Feltwell, Norfolk to travel to R.A.F. Aldergrove during a Cross Country Training flight however it crashed into the ground due to poor visibility and burst into flames.

Flying Officer Harold Eric Hunter of the Royal New Zealand Air Force was the Pilot with Flying Officer John William Elliott as Observer.

Fairey Fulmar BP821 Aircraft Crash

Sub-Lieutenant John Richard Mathers and Sub-Lieutenant William Foster were serving with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve based at H.M.S. Daedalus.

On 24th November 1942 they were flying  Fairey Fulmar BP821 similar to the one shown above (Public Demain Photograph).

During the flight the crew were unable to recover from a steep climbing turn which had been carried out at low level.

The aircraft crashed killing both men.

H.M.S. Caroline

A number of Naval Personnel from H.M.S. Caroline are buried here including Frank Mundy Coombs who was killed during the Belfast Blitz.

Victor Frank Dolan and Samuel Hamilton are both recorded as dying from Illness.

Ronald Richard Martin lost his life through an accident with Felix O'Neill, John Maurice Mends Tickell and John Wilkinson simply having been reported as having Died.

Supermarine Seafire Crashes

Sub-Lieutenant John Esmond Marshall was a member of the Royal New Zealand Naval Volunteer Reserve.

He was with 894 Squadron at Ballyhalbert and on 13th February 1944 was flying a Supermarine Seafire similar to the one shown in the photograph above (Public Domain)

During the flight Sub-Lieutenant Marshall lost control and the aircraft crashed south of Mew island near Donaghadee.

Sub-Lieutenant Leonard Perry Wade was flying Supermarine Seafire SR489 from 803 Squadron when he crashed on Slievenanee Mountain.

Sub-Lieutenant William Lloyd Nash was from Canada and serving with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve.

On 5th November 1945 he had been flying Supermarine Seafire  SW849 when he lost control and crashed near Nutts Corner Airfield.

Royal Artillery Personel

There are a number of members of the Royal Artillery buried in the City Cemetery.

Gunner Robert Crawford served with 21 Battery, 8th Anti-Aircraft Regiment. Gunner Harold Douglas was with 2 Battery, 1 Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment.

Gunner Ralph Ferguson was 314 Battery of 102 Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment. Lance Serjeant David Sime Gordon was with 389 Battery, 111 Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment.

Gunner Stanley Hodgkinson served with 355 Battery, 111 Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment and Lance Gunner John Humphries was with 316 Battery 102 Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment.

Gunner John Madden was serving with 1 Battery, 1 Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment.

I have included Signalman John Quirey in this section because he had been serving with 3 Heavy Anti-Aircraft as Divisional Signaller and was attached to 12 Heavy Anti-Aircraft as their Divisional Signaller when he died.

Bristol Beaufort Aircraft Crash EL131

Bristol Beaufort EL131 was being operated by Number 5 Operational Training Unit and took off from R.A.F. Long Kesh to carry out a Non-Operational Training Exercise.

At 09.20 it turned to the left before crashing and burning approximately one mile north of Shields Corner, Castledawson killing all on board.

Three of those who were killed are buried in Belfast City Cemetery as shown here:-

Flight Sergeant Donald Murray Gibson, Royal Australian Air Force (Pilot)

Flight Sergeant Charles Loxley Harris, Royal Australian Air Force (Navigator / Bomb Aimer)

Sergeant Arthur Reginald Davis, Royal New Zealand Air Force (Wireless Operator / Air Gunner)

Another Crew Member, Sergeant Keith Thomas Devery is buried in the nearby Milltown Cemetery.

Female Service Personnel

There are three Headstones relating to Female Service Personnel.

Serjeant Nora Hughes was 50 years old and serving with the Auxiliary Territorial Service when she died.

Leading Aircraftswoman Mary Rose Cuthbertson was with the Womens Auxiliary Air Force and Private Doreen Meta Brown was 18 years old when she died on 6th June 1941. She was serving with the Auxiliary Territorial Service.

H.M.S. Sarawak Drownings

The Personnel below were with H.M.S. Sarawak when they drown.

Lieutenant Samuel Geoffrey Grimes, Lieutenant Tom Harrison Raven of the Royal Australian Naval Volunteer Reserve, Signalman Lyn Edgar Landon Relf, Telegraphist John Albert White

Killed at Sea

Leading Seaman William F. Dawe was serving on board H.M.S. Zulu (Shown above) when he was Killed in Surface Action.

Ordnance Artificier Colin Kidger was on board H.M.S, Newark (Shown at top of this item) when it was involved in a collision with H.M.S. Volunteer at Devonport. The ship carried on to Belfast where it was repaired and Colin Kidger laid to rest.

Able Seaman Albert Gillian Lightfoot was killed in an explosion on board H.M.S. Broke (Shown above) while George Henry Smith, Skipper of H.M.S. Commander Holbrook was killed in a Boat Accident.

Royal Army Ordnance Corps and Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal

Private Arthur Henry Holton was serving with the Royal Army Ordnance Corps and is recorded as having died on 5th May 1941. The "Fire Raid" of the Belfast Blitz was on the night of 4th / 5th May 1941.

Sapper James Orr was serving with Number 6 Bomb Disposal Company of the Royal Engineers.

United States Military Burials 

United States Armed Forces Personnel were initially buried at Belfast City Cemetery however the large Cemetery was then created at Lisnabreeny and so those who had been laid to rest in the City Cemetery were subsequently exhumed and moved to Lisnabreeny. (See Greater Belfast Part 1)

This, however, was not the last transfer and all were once again exhumed and either moved to the large American Military Cemetery in Cambridgeshire, England or returned to the United States.

The photographs above and below show U.S. Soldiers in Belfast City Cemetery on Monday 25th May 1942 which was Memorial Day. Memorial Day is when U.S. Citizens remember the Men and Women who have lost their lives whilst serving in the Armed Forces. (Thanks very much to Selwyn Johnston and After The battle for pictures)

This is simply an illustration of what you can find when spending the time to walk around Belfast City Cemetery - There is much to see.