The Second World War in Northern Ireland

The Second World War in Northern Ireland

Information People - 4

Northern Ireland Servicemen Buried in Hamburg.

Shown here are the headstones of 14 Servicemen from Northern Ireland who are buried in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Plot within Ohlsdorf Cemetery in Hamburg, Germany. 

Sergeant William Yarr Alderdice was a member of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and was serving in Bomber Command with 408 Royal Canadian Air Force Squadron which is known as "Goose Squadron"

On 28th April 1942 he was a Wireless Operator / Air Gunner in Hadley Page Hampden Bomber AE 426  which had flown from R.A.F. Balderton on a Mission to Keil, Germany.

At some stage during the mission this aircraft was shot down.

Sergeant Alderdice was the Son of George and Mary Alderdice from Belfast.

Private William Joseph Cushnie was serving in the Pioneer Corps . He was the Husband of Isabella Cushnie and the Son of Mr and Mrs William Cushnie from The Maze near Lisburn.

G.S. Davies (Unfortunately I cannot find the name of this Soldier) was a member of 2nd Battalion, The Rifle Brigade. He was the Son of William Charles and Kate Davies and the Husband of Mary A. Davies. He was from Banbridge.

Ronald Edgar Gilfillan was a Leading Aircraftsman with the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and the Son of William and Mary Gilfillan.

He was from Crindle in County Londonderry and is shown in the two pictures above. (My sincere thanks goes to Matt Gilfillan for the photographs)

Lance Corporal Mark Harrigan served with 279 General Transport Company of the Royal Army Service Corps. He was the Son of William and Bridget Harrigan and the Husband of Mary. He was from Londonderry.

Sergeant Samuel Hugh Albert Jess was a Wireless Operator / Air Gunner in an Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Bomber of 102 Squadron, Royal Air Force.

The aircraft he was flying in, T4273, took off from R.A.F. Topcliffe and was shot down by FLAK at Kampstrasse, Hamburg.

Whilst visiting Hamburg I photographed one of the huge FLAK Towers which remain in the City and indeed the one shown here is on Feldstrasse being only 2 streets from where the Aircraft in which Sergeant Jess was flying crashed after being struck by FLAK.

This Bundesarchiv picture shows the same FLAK Tower that I have photographed below, as it looked in 1945.

This picture shows Sergeant Jess buried with other members of his Crew - Pilot A.C. Elliott, Pilot A.L.R. Cook, Observer J.M. Oxley and Wireless operator / Air Gunner N.R. Skinner.

Sergeant Jess was the Son of James and Ellen Jess and was from Killyleagh. (Some of this information from

Flight Sergeant Isaac Kennedy was a Wireless Operator / Air Gunner in Vickers Wellington Bomber BJ711 of Bomber Command 142 Squadron, Royal Air Force.

His aircraft took off from R.A.F. Waltham but failed to return. It is believed that the aircraft was a likely victim of FLAK (  

Isaac, who is shown above, was the Son of Robert and Margaret Kennedy from Ahoghill.

(Many thanks to Mildred Logan for the photograph of Isaac shown below)

Lance Corporal William John Laird was serving with the 2nd Battalion, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders when he died on 24th August 1945.

He was the Son of William and Margaret Laird from Galliagh, Londonderry.

Private Henry James Nixon was serving with 53 Company, Pioneer Corps.

He was the Son of James and Sarah Jane Nixon from Belfast.

Sergeant Daniel Patrick McAleese, who is pictured here, was serving in Bomber Command with 149 Squadron, Royal Air Force.

He was a Flight Engineer on Short Stirling R9253 QJ-C which took off at 16.35 on 8th December 1942 from R.A.F. Lakenheath being flown by Flying Officer Laurence Theodore Izzard of the Royal Canadian Air Force.

The force consisted of 80 aircraft from 1, 3 and 4 Groups Royal Air Force Bomber Command and was taking part in Mine Laying sorties to the German and Danish coast.

Sergeant McAleese's aircraft went to the Jasmine Region off the coast of Travemunde near Lubeck, Germany and crashed onto mudflats in the Westermarsch district of Lower Saxony with the loss of all on board. A total of 5 Bombers were lost on this Mission.

Sergeant McAleese was the Son of Daniel and Mary E. McAleese of Scarva.

(Photograph of Sergeant McAleese is from Poyntzpass History Society)

Sapper Robert Peters of the Royal Engineers was the Son of Robert and Agnes Peters from Broughshane.

Sergeant Frederick Livingston Roleston was a Wireless Operator / Air Gunner on a Short Stirling Aircraft of 218 Squadron, Royal Air Force.

His Stirling Bomber HA-Q, number N3762 flew from R.A.F. Downham Market with eight other aircraft on a Raid to Bomb a Submarine Yard at Herrenwyk, Lubeck.

During the flight this aircraft was hit by FLAK and crashed in a field at Hubertus, Hamburg.

Sergeant Roleston was the Son of Frederick Thomas and sarah Louisa Roleston from Benburb. (Some information from 

Pilot Officer Wallace Robert Smyth was a Navigator on Bomber Command Lancaster ED616 of 57 Squadron, Royal Air Force. He took off from R.A.F. Scampton at 23.25 on 29th July 1943 on a Mission to Hamburg. and was shot down by FLAK crashing North of Hamburg at Fuhlsbuttel. All of the crew, including the Pilot G.A.N. Parker were killed.

Pilot Officer Smyth was from Holywood.

Commissioner Samuel Black Underwood of the Control Commission (B.E.) died on 1st June 1946.

He was the Son of Sam and Mary from Belfast.

Northern Ireland Airman Buried in Krakow

On 16th October 1944 at 4:30 AM B-24 Liberator bomber KH-152 F of 34 Squadron South Africa Air Force took off from the Celone airfield near Brindisi in the southern Italy on a Mission to drop supplies the Polish Home Army.

The crew consisted of Lieutenant J. A. Lithgow, Pilot (SAAF), Lieutenant K. B. Mac William, co-pilot, (SAAF) Lieutenant E. Colbert, Observer, (SAAF) Lieutenant G. C. Dicks, Air Gunner (SAAF), Lieutenant S. I. Fourie, Air Gunner, (SAAF) Sergeant T. Myers, Bomb Aimer, (RAF), Sergeant G. F. Ellis, Air Gunner, (RAF) and Sergeant W. F. Cowan, Air Gunner, (RAF)
At 8:30 AM the aircraft was approaching the Wisła River between Kraków and Tarnów, when it was shot down by a German night fighter piloted by Oberfeldwebel Karl Maisch from the 2. NJG 100 who had taken off from Udefeld airfield. (Which I believe is now Katowice Airport).

The Liberator crashed to the east of Krakow near Szczucin.

Five members of the Crew were killed.

Sergeant William Francis COWAN was 31 years old and from Belfast. His body was found by the Polish Resistance in the land of Kazimierz Lachut in Brzezowka where he was buried afterwards before subsequently being moved to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery in Krakow.
(The information above comes from the excellent Forum.)

Northern Ireland Servicemen Buried in Berlin.

I have identified 19 Servicemen from Northern Ireland who are buried in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission 1939 - 1945 War Cemetery in Berlin and during a visit I have photographed all their Headstones which are shown here.

Serjeant John James Caves was serving with the Glider Pilot Regiment, Army Air Corps. He was the Son of Jack and Ann Caves from Lisburn.

Private Percy James Edwards was serving with 1st battalion The Welch Regiment and was Husband of Winnifred Edwards from Belfast.

Serving with the New Zealand Infantry was John Gilmore whose parents John and Margaret were from Belfast.

Corporal Desmond Mary Grant was from Toomebridge and the Son of James and Ellen Grant. He was serving with the Royal Air Force. Desmond had been taken Prisoner of War  on 24th May 1941 in Crete and following his death he was initially buried in the Military Cemetery (Garnisonfriedhof) at Doberitz, Berlin in the section of the cemetery reserved for prisoners of war.

In 1948 his remains were removed from this cemetery and reinterred at the British Military Cemetery, Berlin. (Thanks very much to Eileen McKay for this information about her Uncle)

Private Thomas Hancock was the Husband of Kathleen Hancock from Belfast. He was serving with The Welch Regiment.

Pilot Officer John Graham McComb was in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and a Pilot with 9 Squadron. He was the son of Samuel and Elizabeth McComb from Belfast.

Pilot Officer David Whiteside McConnell D.F.C. was serving with 101 Squadron R.A.F. and was the Son of David and Ruby McConnell from Newry.

Sergeant Andrew Leslie McConnell was a Wireless operator / Air Gunner serving with 463 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force. 

Sergeant John Ritchie McDowell was a Flight Engineer serving with 101 Squadron, Royal Air Force.

He was the Son of John and Mary Ann McDowell from Hillsborough.

Sergeant Robert McKeag was an Air Gunner serving with 50 Squadron. R.A.F. and was the Son of Robert and Agnes McKeag from Belfast.

On the left is another photograph of Sergeant Robert McKeag's Headstone as it looked after a visit from his relatives.

Below is the letter sent to his family following his death along with his Air Gunner insignia, Sergeant chevrons and three medals.

The three medals are, from left to right the 1939 - 1945 Star, The Air Crew Europe Star and the 1939 - 1945 War Medal.

(I wish to thank Sharon Kerridge for her considerable assistance with this photograph)

Sergeant Robert Charles McLaren was from Sixmilecross, County Tyrone. He was serving in the Royal Air Force with 626 Squadron as a Navigator and was the Son of Thomas and Emma McLaren. 

Pilot Officer James Stirling Moore was serving as a Navigator with 78 Squadron R.A.F.

He was the Son of Thomas and Miriam Moore from Belfast.

For more information about the shooting down of the aircraft in which Pilot Officer Moore was flying please visit

(Thank-you very much to Fiona Moore for providing this photograph and link)

Sergeant Walter Leonard Sargent was serving as an Air Bomber with 103 Squadron, Royal Air Force. He was the Son of Mr and Mrs Leonard Sargent from Rostrevor, County Down and it is worthy of note that his home town is referred to on his Headstone.

Flight Sergeant Gerald Eagleson Scott was a Wireless Operator / Air Gunner with 514 Squadron, Royal Air Force. He was the Son of David and Elizabeth Scott from Belfast.

Gerald Eagleson Scott joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in 1939 and on completion of training he served as a Flight Sergeant / Rear Gunner on an Avro Lancaster which was a particularly hazardous position.

The mission was to be the last major raid on Berlin. It was scheduled for the night of 21st/22nd March 1944 however was postponed until 24th March 1944.

Gerry Scott is shown on the right of the photograph immediately below with a fellow Airman.

Gerry and his Best Friend, Flight Sergeant R.B. McAllister (From Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada) were enjoying a well earned Leave following the completion of their requisite number of missions and Gerry was in Belfast when he was recalled to Duty.

The two friends were assigned to Lancaster L.L. 625-C with 514 Squadron based at Waterbeach in Cambridgeshire.

The mission consisted of a total force of 811 aircraft with 577 being Lancasters, 216 Halifaxes and 18 Mosquitos.

There were 72 aircraft lost of which 44 were Lancasters and 28 Halifaxes.

The Lancaster in which Gerry was flying crashed on the return journey from the Raid. The cause of the crash is unknown.

It crashed near Worlitz which is a small town South of the River Elbe and East Northeast of Dressau.

All of the crew were killed except for one survivor – Gerry’s best friend, Ron McAllister who is shown here.

Gerry was posthumously awarded Defence Medal, 1939-1945 War Medal, Air Crew Europe Star and 1939 – 1945 Star.

The Aircrew are Flying Officer J.R. Laing, Sergeant P.C.K. Bennett, Sergeant A. Vickers, Flight Sergeant J. Knights, Flight Sergeant G.E.Scott, Flight Sergeant R.B. McAllister (R.C.A.F. Prisoner of War) and Sergeant C.A. Salt.

Gerry’s name is inscribed on the War Memorial in Ballynahinch Town Square.

This is Ronald Bayne McAllister, R.C.A.F.  J92512 (R174878) (Thanks very much to  Roger Guernon for providing this photograph)

(Thanks very much to Nuala Scott for the information and photographs of her Great Uncle Gerald Eagleson Scott.)

Sergeant Peter Tristan Smith was a Navigator with 61 Squadron, Royal Air Force. He was the Son of Leonard and Lilian Smith from Bangor, County Down.

Lance Corporal George Sterritt was serving with the Pioneer Corps. He was the son of James and Catherine Sterritt from Cookstown, County Tyrone and the Husband of Annie Sterritt.

It is worthy of note that he was 50 Years Old!

Sergeant Edward John Wright was a Wireless Operator / Air Gunner serving with 15 Squadron R.A.F. and the Son of James and Mabel Wright from Belfast. 

Private John Johnston was serving with the Royal Army Service Corps. He was the Husband of Mary and had a Daughter Sadie. From Belfast.

Bombardier Thomas McCutcheon was serving with 5 Battery, 2 Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery.

He was the Son of William and Margaret McCutcheon from Bangor, County Down.

                                                    *****PLEASE REMEMBER EVERY ONE OF THESE MEN WAS A VOLUNTEER! *****