J21466 Flying Officer (Air Bomber) James Craig, DFC
Mitchell, 525420 Sergeant Hugh, 214 Sqdn., Royal Air Force, died on the 1 April 1942 and aged 25 years. He had been born on the 1st December 1916, the son of James and Mary A. Mitchell, of Lemnalary Carnlough, Co. Antrim. James Mitchell, the stonemason son of Robert, a Carnlough farmer, had married Mary Ann McKenty, daughter of farmer Hugh, in Carnlough’s RC Chapel on the 15th July 1906.
Wellington Mark IC Z1052, BU-Z, flown by Mitchell, took off at 20:19hrs on the 1 April 1942 on Operation 'Lineshoot' to bomb railway yards in Hanau, Lohr. Altogether 35 Wellingtons and 14 Hampdens were involved. Twenty-two aircraft returned but twelve Wellingtons, Mitchell’s included, and one Hampden were lost. Indeed, seven of the lost Wellingtons were from 214 Squadron (R1789, X9979, Z1052, Z1156, Z8805, Z8842, and Z8979), with a loss of 41 lives, and only 1 survivor. He was Sgt Davidson, one of Mitchell’s crew. It was a black day.
Mitchell’s plane had been shot down and crashed between Wilskerke and Leffinge, approximately 2 miles ESE of Middelkirke, Belgium. On board were Sgt Hugh Mitchell, 525420, Pilot, Royal Air Force; Sgt James Murphy, 1165663, Observer; WO/I Walter David Page, R/69723, Royal Canadian Air Force; Sgt Stanley 'Stan' Perry, 1174623, Wireless Operator / Air Gunner, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; Sgt Richard Arthur Platt, 939816, Wireless Operator / Air Gunner, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, and Sgt Clifford Hollins Davidson.
He is buried in Middelkerke Communal Cemetery, Belgium.
Reid, Constable Robert, Royal Ulster Constabulary died age 22 on the 5th May 1941 during the bombing of Belfast on that date.
During ‘The Fire Raid’ of the Belfast Blitz, Glenravel Street RUC Station in Belfast, Co. Antrim took a direct hit. Constable Robert Reid was one of 5 young constables killed in the attack. The other four were Constable Martin Robert Armstrong, Constable Hugh Campbell, Constable William John Lemon and Constable James McKenna.
Robert had joined the Royal Ulster Constabulary in August 1939, immediately prior to war’s outbreak. He had previously worked at Wilson’s Nurseries and in the Braidwater Mill. He was well known in Ballymena, the leader of Ballymena Accordion Band and a member of the local Apprentice Boys of Derry. Robert had three sisters and five brothers. One was Gunner William John Reid and the other Lance Corporal James Reid.
He was the son of William John and the late Maggie Reid, 32 Springwell Street, Ballymena. He is buried in Ballymena New Cemetery, Cushendall Road.
Stevenson, 6355702 Officer Cadet Wilson, Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment, died as the result of an accident when aged 19 on the 2 November 1946. He had been born on 10th December 1927, and he was the son of William Stevenson and his wife Margaret Kernohan of Crankill, Ballymena. The couple had married on 23rd July 1925 in Ballymena, but Wilson was born in Birkenhead, Merseyside, the residence of the couple after their marriage. He served an apprenticeship with hardware merchant Robert Cameron at Wellington Street, Ballymena, before joining the firm of Nixon & Shaw at Liverpool. A headstone in Ballymena New Cemetery, Cushendall Road reads, ‘1935 – STEVENSON - In memory of William Stevenson, Wallasey. Died 12th November 1944, aged 60 years. Also …’
William Stevenson had received the Military Medal for gallantry in the field while serving as a Corporal with North Irish Horse in World War One. He had enlisted in November 1915 and had served in France after 1916. The Ballymena Observer of 11 October 1918 reported that, ‘Corporal William Stevenson, North Irish Horse, son of the late Mr. Wilson Stevenson, Crankill, …, has been awarded the Military Medal for gallantry in the field during the recent advance’- (Fighting around the Canal du Nord).
Wilson Stevenson is buried in Ballymena New Cemetery, Cushendall Road and is not named on the local war memorial.
Taylor, 2333136 Signalman Denis, Royal Corps of Signals, died on the 18th April 1947, then 27 years old, and is buried in Uttoxeter Cemetery, England. He was the son William and Alice Taylor, and the husband of Eileen Margaret Taylor of Ballymena, Co Antrim.
Thompson, 1066764 Sergeant (Pilot) Walter, 156 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, died age 20 on the 5/6th June 1942. He was the son of Mr J G Thompson and the late Mrs Thompson of Randalstown, Co. Antrim, and formerly of Mount Street, Ballymena.
Walter Thompson’s aircraft, a Wellington 1c Bomber, serial DV812, code GT-D, left RAF Alconbury on the 5th June 1942 and it was shot down by a night fighter flown by Hptm H Lent of 11/NJG2, either a Bf 110 or a Dornier 215 B-5 out of Leeuwarden airfield. All five of the crew perished when the plane went into the Ijsseleeer south of Hoorn.
1066764 Sergeant Walter Thompson, the pilot of the aircraft, was buried Bergen General Cemetery after his body washed up at Schellinkhout on the 14 June 1942. 1253490 Sergeant Thomas Whelan, Observer, is remembered on the Runnymede Memorial, as is Wireless Operator/Air Gunner 1261842 Sergeant John Charles Mason. Wireless Operator/Air Gunner R/75636 Sergeant William Pereira, Royal Canadian Air Force, is buried in Amsterdam New Eastern Cemetery. Air Gunner 974024 Sergeant Stanley Alexander Marr was buried in Bergen General Cemetery after his body washed up on Hoorn 10 June 1942.
Whittaker, LT/MX 94696 Leading Cook Robert, Royal Naval Patrol Service, H.M.S. Tango, died age 24 on the 7th October 1947. His cause of death is not known.
The Royal Naval Patrol Service (RNPS), not much talked of now, was a vital branch of the Royal Navy during the war. They operated auxiliary vessels such as naval trawlers for anti-submarine and minesweeping operations. In Summer 1939 the Admiralty had purchased 67 trawlers and had added 20 more by the outbreak of the war in September. HMS Europa, located at Lowestoft and usually known as Sparrow's Nest, became the Central Depot of the Royal Naval Patrol Service.
Between 1942 and its decommissioning in 1946 craft manned by the Service totalled 1,637 and included converted trawlers, corvettes, fuel carriers, motor launches and naval seaplane tenders. Of this total approximately 260 vessels were lost in action; circa 15,000 RNPS personnel lost their lives. Churchill thanked them at the war’s end saying, ‘The work you do is hard and dangerous. You rarely get and never seek publicity; your only concern is to do your job, and you have done it nobly.… No work has been more vital than yours; no work has been better done.’
He was the son of Joseph and Elizabeth Whittaker, of Ballymena. He is buried in Ballymena New Cemetery, Cushendall Road.