Belfast pays tribute to James Magennis, V.C.
The Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Robert Stoker, unveiled a memorial in the grounds of Belfast City Hall to commemorate the award of the Victoria Cross to Leading Seaman James J. Magennis for outstanding bravery in World War II, on October 8th. 1999.
Leading Seaman James J. Magennis was the only person from Northern Ireland to be awarded the Victoria Cross during World War II, when he received the highest British decoration, as a diver on the midget-submarine XE-3 for her attack on the Japanese cruiser ‘Takao’, on July 31st. 1945 in the Strait of Jahore, Malaya. He had great difficulty in fixing the limpet mines on the hull owing to its foul state. Before the mines could be placed L/S. Magennis had to scrape off the barnacles from the keel. After returning to the submarine in an exhausted condition, he volunteered to return and jettison the limpet carriers, which were preventing the escape of the X-craft.
The six-foot high memorial, made from Portland stone and bronze, is located adjacent to the statue of Queen Victoria, at the front of Belfast City Hall.
The guests at the ceremony included members of James Magennis’ family, his brother Bill, and three sons, Paul, James and Michael, who travelled from England. Also L/S. Magennis’ Commanding Officer from XE-3, Commander Ian Fraser, VC, DSC, and William Gould, VC, the only other surviving Royal Navy Victoria Cross holders from World War II. The Maritime institute of Ireland was represented by Deputy President, Denis Ranaghan and Honorary Secretary, Patrick Sweeney.