Tweed, William James (William)
No. D/JX 253909, HMS Audacity, Royal Navy
Killed on active service on Monday 22 December 1941 (aged 22)
No known grave
Plymouth Naval Memorial, Devon, England (Panel 49 Column 3)
Newtownards and District War Memorial
William James Tweed was born on 17 January 1919 in Greenwell Street, Newtownards and he was the eldest son of David John and Agnes Mary Tweed (nee Moore) who were married on 4 March 1918 in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St. Mark’s). David John Tweed (aged 19) was a soldier with the 12th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles stationed at Clandeboye Camp, and he was a son of William Tweed, a labourer. His parents, William and Hessie Tweed, together with his brothers and sisters lived in Rodenfoot Street, Ballymoney, Co. Antrim.
Agnes Mary Moore from 154 Greenwell Street, Newtownards was a daughter of Lance Corporal William Moore (No. 14895) who was killed in action at Gallipoli on 11 August 1915.
David John and Agnes Mary Tweed lived at 23 North Street, Newtownards and they had at least eight children:
William James (born 17 January 1919 in Greenwell Street, Newtownards)
Hessie (born 23 March 1920 in Greenwell Street, Newtownards)
William James Tweed joined the Royal Navy in 1939 and during the Second World War he served aboard HMS Audacity. HMS Audacity was a British escort carrier and the first of her kind. Launched in March 1939 she was originally the German merchant ship MV Hannover. The MV Hannover was captured by the Royal Navy in the West Indies in March 1940 and renamed Sinbad. She was converted and commissioned as HMS Empire Audacity, then renamed HMS Audacity.
Convoy HG-76 (bound for the UK) left Gibraltar on 14 December 1941 and HMS Audacity had only four serviceable Grumman Martlet aircraft aboard. On the night of 21 December 1941 HMS Audacity was hit in the engine room by a torpedo fired from the German submarine U-751. Two more torpedoes caused the aviation fuel to explode, blowing off her bow. HMS Audacity sank some 500 miles west of Cape Finisterre on the west coast of Spain and Ordinary Seaman William James Tweed was one of the men who died that night.
There were Killed in Action notices in the 24 and 31 January 1942 editions of the Newtownards Chronicle from:
His parents, brothers and sisters at 23 North Street, Newtownards
His sister Hessie and brother-in-law Alex Ferguson of 147 Greenwell Street, Newtownards
His sister Isabel and brother-in-law William Briggs of 103 Broom Street, Woodvale, Belfast
His grandmother Ann Jane Moore of 143 Greenwell Street, Newtownards
His aunt Winnie and uncle Jim Robinson and cousins Belle and Ann of 143 Greenwell Street, Newtownards
His aunt Eleanor Maxwell, Maisie and Billy of 168 Greenwell Street, Newtownards
His aunt Maud and uncle Hugh Coffey (on active service in the Middle East, subsequently wounded and held Prisoner-of-War) of 18 Upper Movilla Street, Newtownards
His aunt Emma and uncle James Bell and cousins Jean and Billy of 32 Thomas Street, Newtownards
The directors and workmates of the Strangford Knitting Company, Newtownards
Loughries True Blues Loyal Orange Lodge No. 1948.
These Killed in Action notices, together with Our Heroes – In Memoriam notices published in subsequent years, included the following verses:
We little thought when he left home,
That he would ne’er return;
That he so soon in death would sleep
And leave us here to mourn.
May the heavenly winds blow softly
O’er that sweet and hallowed spot,
Though the sea divides us from your grave,
You will never be forgot.
Too far away thy grave to see,
But not too far to think of thee,
When days are dark, and friends are few,
How we’ll think and long for you.
In the bloom of life death claimed him,
In the pride of his manhood days;
None knew him but to love him,
None mentioned his name but with praise.
He never shunned his country’s call,
But gladly gave his life – his all;
He died; the helpers to defend,
An Ulster’s sailor’s noble end.
He is gone. Oh how hard!
Not a friend to be near
To hear his last word,
Or dry his last tear.
For his country’s sake
Greater love hath no man than this,
That a man lay down his life for his friends.
The news was sad, the blow was hard,
God’s will, it shall be done,
With a manly heart he did his part,
And a crown of victory won.
Sleep on, dear son, in your foreign grave,
A grave we shall never see,
But as long as life and memory last,
We will remember thee.
We do not forget him, nor do we intend,
We think of him always, and will to the end;
We mourn him in sorrow and silence unseen
And dwell on the memory of days that have been.
Just as manhood days were dawning
On the lad we loved so well,
He was taken from amongst us
To his Heavenly Home to dwell.
We cannot forget you, our loved one so dear,
Your memory grows sweeter year after year;
You cannot return, so tears are in vain,
But in Heaven we’re hoping to meet you again.
It is sad but true, and we wonder why,
The best are always the first to die.
Had we but seen him at the last,
Or raised his drooping head,
Our hearts would not have felt so sore,
The bitter tears we shed.
Ordinary Seaman William James Tweed (No. D/JX 253909) was 22 when he died, and he is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial in Devon and on Newtownards and District War Memorial.