The Royal Belfast Academical Institution

RBAI at Unveiling of Roll of Honour

RBAI was honoured to receive an invitation to a service marking the unveiling of the Roll of Honour for the pre-World War II Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve & receiving of the No. 502 (Ulster) Squadron Standard.
RBAI at Unveiling of Roll of Honour

RBAI at Unveiling of Roll of Honour

The Belfast Royal Academical Institution were honoured to receive an invitation to a service marking the unveiling of the Roll of Honour for the pre-World War II Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and the receiving of the No. 502 (Ulster) Squadron Standard from Mr. John Hewitt. The service was conducted at St. Anne’s Cathedral on Sunday 19th May 2019 at 3.30 p.m.

The solemn commemoration event recognised the sacrifice of Northern Ireland’s Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR) prior to and during World War II. It was a privilege for Principal Miss Janet Williamson, Mr. J. Seath, Josh Moohan and David McKee to attend the service in honour of those men named on the Role of Honour who attended R.B.A.I.

One hundred and forty young men from the RAFVR were called to active service, and fought with distinction and bravery, many paying the ultimate sacrifice in defence of our great nation, ever more to lie in rest in foreign lands far from the green landscape of Ulster.

Operating a plethora of different aircraft types, the Northern Ireland RAFVR served throughout the breadth of the war, participating in every theatre and playing critical roles in many major campaigns. From aerial combat in the Battle of Britain, to U-Boat hunting during the Battle of the Atlantic, from the hot deserts of the North Africa campaign, through Italy and the Middle East, to the humid jungles of Burma; throughout the whole of the relentless Bomber Campaign, and eventually, as part of the Normandy invasion leading to the eventual winning of the war. For those that survived, some remained in the RAF and continued with dedicated service. Many however, returned to their

beloved Northern Ireland and went back to civilian life, joining the Civil Service, school teaching, or other “ordinary” jobs. However, these people were far from ordinary, and instead encapsulate all that is special about the Northern Irish bravery, tenacity, camaraderie and selflessness, all wrapped up in an infectious sense of humour that pervades all.

It is amazing to me how so few could have had such great impact across the breadth of the Royal Air Force during such an important period of our history. Imagine what could have been, had Wing Commanding Officer had his wish granted in 1939, and an Ulster RAFVR fighter Squadron had been established. No doubt, if populated with the 140 individuals we remember today, it would have performed with the utmost distinction, and lived up to its proposed motto of: “Ruthless, Relentless, Remorseless.

From the Preface of the Order of Service by Air Vice-Marshal Harvey Smyth OBE DFC MA RAF Air Officer Commanding Number 1 Group.

Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

A unit of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR) was formed in Belfast in January 1939, under the command of Wing Commander H.G. Gauntlet who had been a Colonel in the British Army during World War I. The RAFVR in Belfast was established to support the rapid expansion of the pilot and navigator establishment necessary for the emergency in 1939.

Since the early 1900s, Short & Harland established a worldwide reputation as manufacturers of aircraft. What is not so well known is that in 1938, the company began the training of pilots for the Royal Air Force.

Short & Harland was invited by the Ministry of Defence to operate a training school at Belfast Harbour Airport (now the George Best City Airport). In January 1939, the school was opened and became known as No. 24 Elementary & Reserve Flying Training School (E & RFTS).

The school was exclusively used for the training of RAFVR and was equipped with the De Havilland Tiger Moth and Hawker variants including the Hind trainer, Audax and Hart.

The Reservists were a mixed bunch of individuals; they had been educated at grammar schools or technical colleges and came from all walks of life and social backgrounds. They had one thing in common – a keenness to fly, and there was no shortage of volunteers.

The Northern Ireland RAFVR has a basic programme, which consisted of the students attending lectures, marching drills and other military exercises twice a week at the RAFVR Headquarters at Saxone House in Donegall Place, Belfast and at weekends they attended No. 24 E & RFTS at Sydenham for flying training. Two Chief Flying Instructors at the school were Flight Lieutenant Charles Lindsay and Flight Lieutenant David Sloan.

Over 300 young men joined the RAFVR between the 1st January 1939 and 1st May 1940. On 3rd September 1939, 140 of them were called into full time service and posted to various RAF stations in England for further training. Many of these young men could not drive a car or ride a motorcycle but within six months of advanced training were flying Lancaster bombers or Spitfire fighters over enemy held territory. Sadly 92 of them were Killed in Action, some fighting gallantly during the Battle of Britain. Forty-eight of them survived.

From the Order of Service by John Hewitt



Sergeant Singleton Wilson Adair (749543)

Flying Officer James Thompson Agnew DFC AE (155576)

Sergeant Thomas Lindsay Armstrong (745102)

Flight Sergeant Joseph Bartley DFM (548743)

Flight Sergeant Thomas Colquhoun Edmunds Berkeley (745377)

Sergeant Eric Ritchie Bowman (150948)

Flying Officer Geoffrey Alexander Bowman (149526)

Flight Lieutenant John Alexander Bright MID (76597)

Sergeant George Brown

Sergeant Jack Brown (759281)

Flying Officer Colin Hugh Buchanan (133488)

Sergeant John Stanley Burnside (538670)

Sergeant Douglas George Campbell (748172)

Flight Sergeant Samuel Shannon Carlisle (816208)

Sergeant Hunter Chambers (632993)

Sergeant William Chambers (745628)

Sergeant Charles Johnston Cheatley (748222)

Flight Lieutenant Ernest Sumner Clarke (107142)

Pilot Officer William L Bloomer Cochrane (745960)

Sergeant Thomas William Archibald Crone (969953)

Sergeant Alex Campbell Davidson (966403)

Flight Lieutenant Robert Aubrey Alexander Doherty DFC AE MID (102954)

Sergeant Stanley Allen Fenemore (745110)

Sergeant Walter Oswald Fenton (745092)

Warrant Officer David Boyd Finlay (640578)

Sergeant William Francis E. Gault (950326)

Pilot Officer Alexander William Valentine Green (78082)

Pilot Officer Maurice David Green MID (78363)

Sergeant John Keatinge Haire (748611)

Sergeant Maxwell Templeton Haire (758138)

Sergeant James Hanna (1796357)

Flight Sergeant Herbert Hannay MID (754380)

Sergeant Noel Raymond Allanby Hawthorn (745692)

Sergeant David Hewitt (751261)

Flying Officer Frederick Charles Hill (62649)

Sergeant Charles Julius Holland (745631)

Flying Officer Kenneth Frederick George Inskip (126516)

Sergeant Sydney Ireland (745103)

Sergeant William Price Jinks (745105)

Flight Sergeant Terry Harvey Johnston (745251)

Sergeant Norman Clements Keenan (936645)

Sergeant James F Francis Kerr (748075)

Flying Officer Robert Michael Kildea (118092)

Sergeant John Porter Langlands (947052)

Squadron Leader Edward Workman Lindsay (74707)

Flight Lieutenant James Lockhart (74708)

Flying Officer John Dundee Lorimer (176873)

Sergeant James Clement Love (745109)

Sergeant James Magee (616984)

Sergeant Louis Edward Magee (581233)

Sergeant James Melven Mcllwrath (903519)

Flight Sergeant John McAdam (748076)

Pilot Officer Thomas McCann (742780)

Pilot Officer James Maxwell McCausland (748027)

Pilot Officer George Marshall McCombe (104492)

Sergeant Donald Keith McFarland (748349)

Sergeant Cecil Brian McMullan (748818)

Sergeant Thomas McNeill (759289)

Sergeant Robert Alexander McVeigh (745740)

Sergeant Herbert Reginald Magarry (74511T)

Flight Sergeant Henry Menary DFM (748613)

Sergeant James Samuel Millar (754254)

Sergeant William Alexander Millar (748196)

Sergeant David Mills (748251)

Pilot Officer Cecil Robert Montgomery (24421)

Flying Officer Victor Stephen Neill (127166)

Sergeant Thomas Patterson (1073685)

Sergeant Kenneth Clifton Pattison (742457)

Flying Officer William Pedlow (156773)

Sergeant G Reid (754373)

Flight Sergeant Isaac Rutherford (966363)

Sergeant Samuel Sanderson (746826)

Pilot Officer Leslie Mark Sharpe (758214)

Flight Sergeant Edmund Verner Shaw (748518)

Sergeant Victor Hall Skillen (745460)

Sergeant Gordon Henry Slack (745693)

Flight Sergeant William Herbert Robertson Smith (758003)

Sergeant Samuel Wesley Snoddon (745108)

Sergeant William John Spence (1123753)

Pilot Officer Robert Camac Sterling (77981)

Pilot Officer Eustace F Stronge (79997)

Sergeant Edward Carson Thompson DFC (748054)

Sergeant Joseph Beckett Thompson (566058)

Pilot Officer Stanley J Thompson (86402)

Pilot Officer James Johnstone Tozer (77983)

Pilot Officer Basil Victor Hennessy Tweedie (121553)

Sergeant John O'Neill Walsh (749452)

Sergeant Frederick George Williamson (751575)

Pilot Officer Alan George Wood (136058)

Flight Lieutenant John Wright (88664)

Flying Officer John Michael Wyley (88673)

Sergeant Leslie Young (751115)


Flight Lieutenant James Boucher Agnew AE

Sergeant Louis E. Arneill AE

Squadron Leader Balmforth AE

Sergeants Blair AE

Flight Lieutenant John Thomas Boal AE

Flight Lieutenant David Bradley DFC AE

Lieutenant J Brown AERN

Flight Lieutenant George Calwell AE

Sergeant Thomas Calderwood AE

Sergeant J H Campbell AE

Flight Lieutenant Henry Reginald Clarke AE

Flight Lieutenant John Frederick Conway AE

Sergeant T Condy AE

Sergeant H Dunlop AE

Sergeant Robert Elliot AE

Flight Lieutenant Harold Geary AE

Flight Sergeant G Dennis N Hawthorne AE

Sergeant William Henry Montgomery Hannay AE

Squadron Leader Joseph Irwin MID AE

Flight Lieutenant Charles Crotchley Johnston AE

Sergeant Samuel Martin Keenan AE

Squadron Leader Joseph Shaw Kennedy DFC & BAR AE

Sergeant G A I Kerr AE

Sergeant Lee AE

Flight Lieutenant J Lockington Lilburn AE

Squadron Leader Thomas James Long DFC & BAR AE

Sergeant James Essie Lundy AE

Wing Commander Charles Macdonald DSO DFC AE

Wing Commander Kenneth William MacKenzie DFC AFC AE

Sergeant Mathews AE

Sergeant McAllister AE

Pilot Officer Thomas Dowling Conway AE

Flight Lieutenant Thomas Ernest Corkin AE

Squadron Leader Noel Henry Corry DFC AE

Flight Lieutenant John Terence Cuthbertson AE

Sergeant Thomas Davidson AE

Flight Lieutenant John McConnell AE

Wing Commander William Winder McConnell DFC & BAR AE

Sergeant J McKeown AE

Flying Officer Hugo M McMillan AE

Flight Lieutenant John Charles McWaters DFC AE

Flight Lieutenant Arthur Rusk MID AE

Sergeant Chris Saunderson AE

Squadron Lea-Der Hugo Shannon DFC AE

Warrant Officer John Shenton AE

Flight Lieutenant William Shimmons AE

Wing Commander John Howard Simpson DFC MID AE

Sergeant John Skelton AE

Sergeant James Skillen AE

Flight Lieutenant Albert Edward Smith DFC AE

Wing Commander Cecil Smylie DFC DFC (USA) DFM AE

Squadron Leader George Anthony Taylor AE

Flying Officer David Topping DFC AE

Squadron Leader Robert Ronald Wright DFC AE

RBAI at Unveiling of Roll of HonourRBAI at Unveiling of Roll of HonourRBAI at Unveiling of Roll of Honour
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