Graham, John Thompson (John)
No. 968335, 7 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Killed in action on Saturday 28 March 1942 (aged 29)
No known grave
Runnymede Memorial, Surrey, England (Panel 74)
Bangor and District War Memorial
Newtownards and District War Memorial
First Newtownards Presbyterian Church
Bangor Grammar School
John Thompson Graham was born on 21 December 1912 and he was a son of Joseph and Elizabeth (Bessie) Isabel Graham (nee Workman) who lived in the townland of Ballysallagh Major, Bangor. Later the Graham family moved to Ardmore House in Newtownards. Joseph Graham was a farmer and butcher and he and Bessie Isabel Workman were married on 1 January 1908 in Belfast Registrar’s Office. Joseph Graham was a son of James Graham, a butcher. Bessie Workman was a daughter of Matthew Workman, a farmer.
Joseph Graham already had a daughter from his first marriage, a daughter named Lily, who was 12 in 1911.
Joseph and Bessie Isabel Graham (nee Workman) had at least five children:
Josephine Arthur (born 3 March 1909 in Ballysallagh)
John Thompson (born 21 December 1912 in Ballysallagh)
Ross Workman (born 5.30 am 3 November 1914 in Ballysallagh)
Joseph Hull (born 5.40 am 3 November 1914 in Ballysallagh)
John Thompson Graham was educated at Clandeboye Public Elementary School and from 1925 until 1929 at Bangor Grammar School where he played rugby for the school. A foundation member of Newtownards Young Farmers’ Club (YFC), he was keenly interested in cattle judging and won several prizes in Young Farmers’ Club competitions. He was also a member of the Newtownards Chamber of Trade.
John Graham joined the Royal Air Force shortly after the outbreak of war. His brother Edmund also served with the RAF and his brother Ross was a veterinary surgeon attached to the Home Guard in London. It was reported in the 4 April 1942 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle that John Thompson Graham was missing in action and later it was officially confirmed that he must be presumed to have been killed.
Flight Sergeant John Thompson Graham (No. 968335) was one of seven men aboard a Short Stirling Mark I aircraft (W7501) that took off from RAF Oakington in Cambridgeshire at 7.38 pm on 28 March 1942 on a mission to bomb Lubeck. At 10.05 pm their plane was shot down by a German night-fighter and crashed into the North Sea north of Terschelling in the Dutch Frisian Islands. None of their bodies was ever recovered and they are all commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial in Surrey. The other six crew members who died that night were:
- Flight Lieutenant Jeffrey Hugh Edwards
- Sergeant Ronald Philip Cale
- Sergeant Leonard Reil Eagle (aged 20) from Southsea, Hampshire
- Sergeant Louis Robert Martin Norris (aged 24) from Burtle, Somerset
- Sergeant John Charles Lyon Banks (aged 22) from Heathfield, Sussex
- Sergeant Desmond Edwin Sproule Sidney-Smith (aged 20) from Sydenham, Co. Down
Desmond Edwin Sproule Sidney-Smith was a son of Tredgar Sidney-Smith who served in India during the First World War and Irene Helen Margaret Sarah Sidney-Smith (nee Sproule). They were married on 16 November 1916 in Fintona Presbyterian Church, Co. Tyrone.
Flight Sergeant John Thompson Graham (No. 968335) was 29 when he died, and he has no known grave. He is commemorated on Bangor and District War Memorial; on Newtownards and District War Memorial; in First Newtownards Presbyterian Church and in Bangor Grammar School.