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Thursday, 29 July 2021

Johnston, George N



George Nolan Johnston

was born at 7 Glandore Street, Belfast on 8th February 1913 to William George Johnston, Traveller and Jeannie Johnston nee Nolan.

George attended Belfast Royal Academy and then gained employment with the Ulster Bank. He was posted to Westport branch, Co. Mayo to work and was later transferred to Dungannon branch.

On 14th June 1940, George volunteered and enlisted into the Royal Artillery into a light/heavy anti-aircraft role.

The book, 'The Ulster Bank Story' by Lyn Gallagher mentions a George Johnston on page 50. He was the manager of Clones branch.


The following article is extracted from this excellent website, Remembrance NI Org compiled by Houston McKelvey.

Banker joins the Gunners and goes to war

Nolan Johnston recalls his grandfather George Nolan Johnston

George was born in Belfast, on the 8th February 1913. He attended Belfast Royal Academy and then gained employment with the Ulster Bank. He was sent to Westport, Co. Mayo to work for some time and returned to take up a position in Dungannon. 

The majority of his friends had joined the 8th Belfast Heavy AA Regiment at the start of World War II. George volunteered for a mixed heavy/light AA battery. He underwent training at Gillingham and was posted to a Light AA Defence Unit in Dover, after this he went to Forfar before embarking oversees on the SS Tegleberg departing Scotland in March 1943. This ship took him to Capetown and then up the African coast where he landed on 11 May 1943. He travelled to Alexandria and then with his driver Charlie Smirk, he was sent to Egypt via Beirut. In July 1943 he was aboard a ship and since he was the only officer on board, he was given the sealed orders for Operation Husky 'Detachment 66LAA Regiment. Sergeant Johnston, army number 1573402, read the orders to the troops. On the 10/07/1943 he and his troops landed in Syracuse, after a stint there he headed to northern Italy to Fozzia Main with the 176 Battery. Then on to Carizuola and Taranti where he then sailed for Athens. In June 1945 he returned to Italy and when the end of the war was announced he joined the Tunisian Police and guarded Milan Central Station. From Milan he went to Domodossola until his discharge from the army. 

From the memoirs of George Nolan Johnston - The early days 

Most of my Belfast school friends had joined the Territorial Army. A great many of them had joined the 8th Belfast Heavy AA Regiment based at Dunmore, Antrim Road, Belfast. When war broke out they were immediately called up, albeit to gun sites very close to their homes in Belfast. They were near enough to their homes to come to their mothers about one day per week, to get their washing done and depart with scones, cakes and the like. I was released by the Ulster Bank, Dungannon on June 14 and for four days was a ‘free man’. I had volunteered for a mixed heavy/light AA Battery with regimental headquarters in the Antrim Road and on June 18, 1940, around the time that France fell, I presented myself for duty. On the gate of the large house standing in its own grounds, opposite Chichester Park, was a soldier with a large chin who challenged me as I approached. I told him I had come to join up, asked him what it was like, and he said that it wasn’t so bad, but the grub wasn’t great. I later discovered that he was one of the members of flute band from the Willowfield area, who had joined up on condition that they stayed together as a band. A promise that the Army promptly forgot. 

Clifton Street and a shilling 

From here I was sent to Clifton Street, where I signed on, was given a shilling, and put on a truck for Orangefield House. I was checked through there for Heavy AA and put in a truck for Tyrone House on the Malone Road. Headquarters of, so I was told, to my consternation, 'the Suicide Squad'. The only information I could get as to our role was that we dealt with dive-bombers. Which, as it turned out, was approximately true. But, especially compared with the role of Heavies, firing into the night at an unseen target at high altitude was really great stuff. We had a small taste of it later, in Dover and again in Sicily. However, here I was, although I did not realise it at the time, in a very queer outfit. The age limits were 29-65 years, "for the defence of Belfast", and by God we had oldies and young. We had a squad of hard old ‘chaws’ with ribbons from the last war, complete with a crowd of secondary school youngsters, myself included, plus a squad of young working class. The most interesting, of course, were the 1914-18 boys, who were really very decent and likeable. Perhaps typical was one, ‘Spivvy’ Bruce, who joined up at about 16 years of age and whose father was an RSM. Spivvy was captured and a prisoner of war until he was released in 1918. On arriving back at his own side street home in Belfast, no one knew him; a stranger was in the house. It transpired that his mother had died when he was a POW and his father had been killed the day he was captured. He lost both sets of teeth over the side of the SS Tegleberg somewhere in the Atlantic en route to Cape Town and Egypt in 1943, and could only eat soft food from then on. 

Manning gun sites around Belfast 

During this period we manned gun sites around Belfast, mainly down by Dufferin Road, where we manned Bofors guns, Lewis guns and 3" Naval guns. The latter required the shell to be shoved up the breech using the fist. I recall one incident involving this type of weapon, with a South African sergeant, named Heinberg, having his eye blackened by looking down the barrel at the precise moment we shoved a ‘push-through’ down. This was Boy Scout soldiering, we had a ghastly time sleeping in a tent one summer near the power station. Trucks nearly ran over us, the dust was dreadful; we really had neither food (half mile away), water nor sanitation. We had the same in Larne and later in Londonderry. We left Belfast for Larne with expectation from our Sergeant Major. "We send you out with every confidence, you may be in action before dusk, we know that you are trained men, you will not fail". Thereupon we were dispatched for Larne with all necessary equipment in four trucks. The first truck had all the food, the second truck had all the tents, the third truck was full of coal and the fourth truck contained four Lewis guns and ammunition. 

Larne and Londonderry 

Our detachment had the good fortune to be Truck 2, which gave us all the tents, and on a wet slope above the bandstand on the prom, we set up one of these. We also had in our possession our own blankets and groundsheets, and all the Cornflakes and tinned milk for the whole expedition. We settled down for two or three days with wet clothes, but undercover. We ate Cornflakes and milk until they came out through our eyes. It was about three days before anyone found us. We ended up having great fun at this site and had easily the most efficient gun-team in the Regiment. By a clever piece of war study we changed barrels in about 56 seconds against a Regiment record of about 1 minute 40 seconds. The secret was that I had three enormously strong miners on my team, I could carry a gun barrel on my own, usually a four man job, and another chap who could lift the auto loader, another four man job, on his own. I claim credit for a subtle switch in gun drill, which suddenly changed a passive number 4 into an elephant in action. I achieved a massive breakthrough in the spell of gun-drill. Later, in Egypt, I produced a gun-team which was at least 25% faster than anything in the Middle East. It was a trick in gun-drill of course, greatly enjoyed by the gun-team, but nevertheless would have worked even under fire. 

Coping with the Yanks in Derry 

We also had spell in Londonderry, and saw the arrival of the first Americans who shambled over the bridge in rubber boots. The British Army marched with a sharp clip-clop; the Yanks shambled in rubber-soled boots. Derry rapidly developed into a battleground between the Yanks and the Navy, coming ashore from a seven-week patrol in a cramped war ship. The Yanks took over the pubs, the Yanks took over the ‘dolls’, and we did not count. I was mainly stationed in a tent at Coleraine but we had occasional nights in town. 

Nightlife 

We knocked pub doors down pleading for a drink and we toured the shops looking for a cigarette. Occasionally we managed to get drink and visited a dance hall. The number of back-alley fights was very entertaining. Little Irish sailors knocking the daylights out of big Yanks, women screaming, all the fun of the fair. We went over to England. I had been on two or three cruises there by that time. We arrived at Gillingham, Kent, to be trained for a mobile detachment. We were in tents and hence followed a series of mobile exercises to fit us, no doubt, for a mobile desert warfare or mobile invasion warfare. 

Tuesday, 1 December 2020

McAlister, William Gordon

Sergeant William Gordon McAlister

was born on 17th July 1920 to James McAlister and Mary McAlister nee Kennedy.

In January 1937 William volunteered and enlisted into the RAF (VR) with service number 749508 and was appointed a Class F Reservist.

Following his education William joined the Ulster Bank probably around 1938/1939.

William was serving with 51 Squadron RAF (VR) when he was killed in action on 9th September 1940.

Members of the ww2talk.com website give the following pieces of information:

--------------------------

Monday - Tuesday 9-10 September 1940

51 Squadron

Whitley V P5021

Took off from Dishforth for Berlin. damaged by flak and came down in the North Sea 120 miles East of the Firth of Forth, the survivors were picked up by a naval launch that had been tasked for the rescue following the sighting of the crew in their dinghy by a 220 Squadron Hudson.

Crew:

P/O. A W. Millson, Safe
Sgt. H C G. Brook . Safe
Sgt. W G. McAlister +
Sgt. E A. Young. Safe
P/O. D. Careless. Safe

Source - RAF Bomber Command Losses Vol.2 2nd Edition - W R. Chorley

--------------------------

1 Whitley was lost as part of a force of 76 Battles, Blenheims, and Wellingtons attacking targets in Germany, Belgium and France.

* other bombers were lost in other attacks, resulting in 15 showing as commemorated at Runnymede.

William [McAllister], however, is the only one from 51 Sqdn so commemorated, therefore it seems as if the aircraft may have come down in the sea and the rest of the crew rescued to fly again.

The pilot was P/O Carter with Sgts Brook and Young.

The Loss Card shows the serial as P5022 whereas elsewhere it seems to be P5021.
Fitting this should come up today RIP

Hmm, strange to have different pilot and an extra crew man!

--------------------------


[Operations Record Card]


The Loss Cards generously set up by Fred Wilson show only 4 crew with only McAlister detailed in full.

Crew details as per Loss Card, but Chorley is usually accurate, however the Loss Card SHOULD show the crew they thought was aboard.

As 3 were rescued, perhaps confusion crept in somewhere (and the * obviously should have read "8" other aircraft lost on other operations)

Perhaps "careless"!!

Millson, Brook, Young and Careless don't show as 51 Sqdn casualties...

--------------------------

The Belfast Telegraph dated 17th September 1940 reported that Sgt-Observer McAllister had been
missing since 10th September.


Belfast Telegraph 17th September 1940


McAlister is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial, Surrey - panel 16.


[Runnymede - 2 up from bottom of panel]



[Air Forces Memorial, Cooper's Hill]


Acknowledgements to CWGC.

Wednesday, 11 November 2020

We Will Remember Them

 






The following section of text is taken from 'The Ulster Bank Story' by Lyn Gallagher.


War and Peace 1927 - 1955


Page 202 - Circular to Managers by William Fullerton dated 5th September 1939:

"It is unnecessary for us to stress the seriousness of the position in which the Nation is now placed.  Great sacrifices will unquestionably be required from every one of us and we are sure the members of our Staff will do their best to help us to carry on the the work of the Bank successfully through the trying times which lie before us".


The following poem is by Laurence Robert Binyon, 1869-1943

For The Fallen

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.


They mingle not with laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.


Acknowledgements to The Western Front Association website.

Monday, 5 October 2020

Love, James Clements

Sergeant James Clements Love

was born on 21st July 1917 at Clougherney, Co. Tyrone to William Love and Charlette Love nee Clements. He lived in Fintona and was educated in Dungannon Royal School and Omagh Academy.

James joined the Ulster Bank on 22nd February 1939. His last post in the Bank was in Castlewellan branch.



Ulster Bank, Castlewellan branch


James volunteered and enlisted into the RAF (VR) with service number 745109. James was serving with 254 Squadron RAF (VR) when he was killed in action on 1st June 1940.

Sgt Love is remembered on the Runnymede Memorial, Surrey - panel 16.

Info from CWGC, to 254 Squadron

Acknowledgements must also go to 12Oclockhigh website who state "... Blenheim IV R3630. Shot down by Fw Otto Sawallisch of 2./JG27 during patrol over the Goodwin Sands and crashed in the Channel 8.08 a.m.  Sergeant Richard Arthur Bate, Sergeant James Clements Love and LAC William Thomas Harrison all missing. Aircraft QY*Q lost. ..."

Further information courtesy of James Brady who also asks "I understood that he and a friend from the Bank enlisted together (? Also in the RAF ). Do you have any means of finding out the name of that person?" Please add a comment if you can assist with this query.

Monday, 11 November 2019

We Will Remember Them




The following section of text is taken from 'The Ulster Bank Story' by Lyn Gallagher.


War and Peace 1927 - 1955


Page 202 - Circular to Managers by William Fullerton dated 5th September 1939:

"It is unnecessary for us to stress the seriousness of the position in which the Nation is now placed.  Great sacrifices will unquestionably be required from every one of us and we are sure the members of our Staff will do their best to help us to carry on the the work of the Bank successfully through the trying times which lie before us".


The following poem is by Laurence Robert Binyon, 1869-1943

For The Fallen

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.


They mingle not with laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.


Acknowledgements to The Western Front Association website.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Affiliation with History Hub Ulster

Affiliation with History Hub Ulster

Ulster Bank War Memorials is pleased to continue its affiliation with History Hub Ulster.




Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Introduction

Following on from the success of my Northern Bank War Memorials website, I have decided to undertake similar research on the Ulster Bank officials who served in World War II.

After the sale of the Ulster Bank Head Office in Waring Street, Belfast, the following important pieces of Ulster Bank Heritage were re-installed in a new location on walls in the staff entrance to the new Ulster Bank building in Donegall Square East, Belfast:

The World War II – Roll of Honour / War Memorial – Ulster Bank

These memorials, consisting of Bronze plaques feature those officials from the bank who served, went missing in action, died or were killed in either of the two conflicts.

The opportunity is being taken now to catalogue the information thereon and make that information public.

Of the 120 men who volunteered and enlisted, 12 were reported as killed in action.

I had considered undertaking research and presenting on the Great War men who served. It is with much pleasure that I commend the new RBS website - RBS Remembers 1914 - 1918 .

I trust that you will find my site both interesting and informative.

Thank you.

Gavin Bamford

+44 (0) 28 9267 2119

gavinbamford@btinternet.com

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

World War 2 Veterans Wanted for VE Day 70th Anniversary

World War 2 Veterans Wanted for Victory in Europe Day (VE Day) 70th Anniversary

The Royal British Legion have announced a scheme by which WW2 veterans can apply for funding to attend a commemoration event in London over the weekend of 8th to 10th May 2015.

http://www.britishlegion.org.uk/about-us/news/remembrance/ww2-veterans-invited-to-join-ve-day-70-commemorations

".... The Royal British Legion will join the nation in marking the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE) Day over the weekend of 8-10 May.  A series of national commemorative events will take place in London, and community events and celebrations are being organised across the country.

The Second World War generation will be at the heart of all activity and, as part of this, the Legion is now making a call out to veterans of VE Day, who would like to take part in the national commemorations in London.

To ensure representation across all those who played an active role during the Second World War, the invitation is for those who served in the military, the Home Guard or in any one of the reserved occupations, including medics, police and the 'Bevan Boys'.

To be eligible, veterans must be 85 years and over (by 8 May 2015). All veterans can bring one nominated carer with them. ...."

Monday, 26 May 2014

Update Number 5

Update Number 5

There were 21 bank officials with surnames beginning with the letters R to Z who served in WWII and returned home.

Their mini-biographies have been started using information from the following sources:
  • Forces War Records website
  • London Gazette - officers only
  • Belfast City Council - burial records where available
  • 1911 Irish Census - parents details where available
  • 'The Ulster Bank Story' by Lyn Gallagher
and other internet web sources detailed in the individual articles.

This was a difficult exercise with many men having only generic information about them i.e. possible year of birth and the fact that they joined the Ulster Bank following their education.

Each man has had an individual 'post' created about them. This means that they will appear in future internet searches and give relatives, descendants and interested parties a basic start to their research. It is hoped that contact will then be made with myself to enable updates to be made.

Thank you.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Young, John

John Young

Information Required

Please assist me by emailing gavinbamford@btinternet.com with any information that you would have on this Ulster Bank official.

He would probably have been born between 1915 and 1922 giving an age range of 17 to 24 at the start of the war in 1939.