Hall, John Corbett

Hall, John Corbett

Junior Engineer Officer

SS Khedive Ismail (London), Merchant Navy

Died as a result of enemy action on Saturday 12 February 1944 (aged 30)

No known grave


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Tower Hill Memorial, London, England (Panel 60)


John Corbett Hall was born on 10 May 1913 at 10 Irwell Street, Belfast and he was the second son of John and Sarah Hall (nee Harrison) who were married on 7 August 1909 in St. Anne’s Church of Ireland Cathedral, Belfast.  John Hall (aged 25), a winding master from 24 Nansen Street, Belfast was a son of Joseph Hall, a preparing master.  Sarah Harrison (aged 21) from 104 Tate’s Avenue, Belfast was a daughter of James Harrison, a storekeeper.

John and Sarah Hall (nee Harrison) had at least eight children:

Elizabeth (born 4 February 1910 at 2 Locan Street, Belfast)

James Ernest (born 11 December 1911 at 53 Braemar Street, Belfast)

John Corbett (born 10 May 1913 at 10 Irwell Street, Belfast)

Marion Bell (born 29 November 1914 at 10 Irwell Street, Belfast)

Wilhelmina (born 26 May 1917 at 10 Irwell Street, Belfast)

Robert (born 28 February 1920 in Belfast)

Sadie (born 1922; died 29 February 1924)

Sadie (born 30 April 1927; died 14 May 1927)

John Hall Senior served with the Royal Irish Rifles during the Great War and he died in the UVF Hospital, Belfast on 17 August 1936 (aged 55).  He was buried in Grave L. 435. in Belfast City Cemetery (Glenalina Extension) alongside his two daughters (both named Sadie) who had died in infancy.  John Corbett Hall’s mother Sarah was 73 when she died on 22 September 1959 and she was then living at 5 Summerhill Gardens, Bangor.  Before that she lived in Bellevue Road, Carnalea.  Sarah Hall was buried in the same grave as her husband and two daughters.  At the time of writing her name is not inscribed on the headstone.

John Corbett Hall was educated at Grosvenor Public Elementary School, Belfast, and the Belfast College of Technology.  He served his apprenticeship with Messrs James Adams and Company, Donegall Road, Belfast and later he held an appointment with Messrs Short and Harland before becoming an engineer with the Royal Mail Line.  He was the husband of Annie Hall, 38 Roslyn Street, Woodstock Road, Belfast, and they had a two-year old son.

During the Second World War Junior Engineer Officer John Corbett Hall served aboard the steamship SS Khedive Ismail.  This ship was launched as the Aconcagua by Scott’s of Greenock in 1922 and then, in 1935, the ship was renamed Khedive Ismail when it passed into Egyptian ownership.  In 1940 the Khedive Ismail was requisitioned as a British troopship.  On 6 February 1944 Convoy KR-8 sailed from Kilindini Harbour, Mombasa, Kenya to Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).  The convoy comprised five troop transport ships escorted by one heavy cruiser, HMS Hawkins, and two destroyers, HMS Paladin and HMS Petard.

In the early afternoon of 12 February 1944, the convoy was attacked in the One and a Half Degree Channel in the Maldive Islands (also known as the Suvadiva Channel) by the Japanese submarine I-27.  After being hit by two torpedoes, the Khedive Ismail sank in less than two minutes with the loss of almost 1,300 lives, including about 80 women, most of whom were nursing sisters.  Among them was Sister Muriel Emily Leckey from Holywood.  Efforts were made to rescue survivors who were floundering in the sea, while at the same time depth charges were released to force the Japanese submarine back to the surface.  When it surfaced, I-27 was rammed by HMS Paladin and then sunk by a torpedo fired from HMS Petard.  Junior Engineer Officer John Corbett Hall was one of those who died, and, under the headline Carnalea Officer’s Death, his death was reported in the 18 March 1944 edition of the County Down Spectator.  He was 30 when he died, and he is commemorated on the Tower Hill Memorial in London.