Earley, Joseph Gerald (No. 970686)

Earley, Joseph Gerald


No. 970686, 78 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

Died on active service on Saturday 1 March 1941 (aged 21)

No known grave


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Runnymede Memorial, Surrey, England (Panel 42)

Bangor and District War Memorial

Family grave headstone in Bangor Cemetery, Newtownards Road, Bangor


Joseph Gerald Earley was a son of Michael Early (sometimes Early) and Margaret Mary Earley (nee Donohoe, sometimes O’Donohoe) who were married on 30 July 1913 in Craughwell Roman Catholic Church, Loughrea, Co Galway.  Michael Earley, who was born in County Mayo, was a Constable in the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) and he was a son of Michael Earley, a farmer (deceased).  Margaret Donohoe from Aggard was a daughter of John Donahoe, a farmer (deceased).

Michael and Margaret Mary Earley (nee Donohoe) had at least three children:

Margaret Mary (born 17 June 1914 in Arva, Co Cavan)

Eanas Michael Joseph (born 4 March 1918 in Arva, Co Cavan)

Joseph Gerald (born around 1920)

Later the Earley family lived at 13 Brunswick Road, Bangor.

Joseph Gerald Earley joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and during the Second World War he served with 78 Squadron as a wireless operator and air gunner.  On 1 March 1941 he was one of a crew of five aboard an Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mark V aircraft (N1525) that took off from RAF Dishforth in Yorkshire at 7.01 pm on a mission to bomb Cologne.  After reporting a successful attack, the aircraft and its crew disappeared without trace.  The other crew members who died were:

  • Pilot Officer Mervyn James David (aged 23) from Birmingham
  • Sergeant James William Quincey (aged 26) from Hatfield, Hertfordshire
  • Sergeant Raymond Clark (aged 21) from Monmouth
  • Sergeant Roy Bradbury (aged 25) from Great Barr, Staffordshire

Sergeant Joseph Gerald Earley (No. 970686) was 21 when he died, and he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial in Surrey; on Bangor and District War Memorial and on the family grave headstone in Bangor Cemetery.  His father Michael was a retired RIC Sergeant when he died at 13 Brunswick Road, Bangor on 18 December 1936 (aged 62).  Joseph Gerald Earley’s mother Margaret was 59 when she died at the same address on 27 January 1948.  Her daughter Jean was present when she died.