John McGuckin, Derrychrin, Ballinderry Bridge, Co Tyrone (1914-42)
Lost at sea 27 February 1942
Aged 28 years
Plymouth Naval Memorial – Panel 65 – Column 3
John McGuckin was born in Derrychrin, Ballinderry Bridge, on 22 February 1914. He was the third of seven children of Michael McGuckin and Brigid Rocks. Prior to joining the Navy he was serving his apprentice as a tailor.
Able Seaman John McGuckin’s last posting was aboard the J class destroyer HMS Jupiter, which had a crew of 183 men. This destroyer took part in the hunt for the German battle cruiser Bismarck before being ordered to theDutch East Indies. On 17 January 1942 Jupiter sank a Japanese submarine.
HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. Norman Vivian Joseph Thompson Thew, RN) was sailing near the northern coast of Java in the beginning of the evening of the 27 February 1942, just before the final stage of the Battle of the Java Sea, when she was struck by a violent explosion in position 06º45’S, 112º06’E. Jupiter sank shortly afterwards. At the time it was thought that she had been torpedoed by Japanese forces. Later it was found that she had struck a mine in a Dutch minefield. There were no Japanese forces in striking distance at the time of the explosion.
John McGuckin was one of more than 2,300 Allied sailors lost in the Battle of the Java Sea, which was a disastrous engagement in that it slowed the Japanese offensive down by only one day.
The following are extracts from two letters written by John McGuckin to his mother –
Just another chance of wishing you all the best for Christmas. This is supposed to arrive before then if nothing untoward happens it on the way. I have the privilege to get to let you know some of the places we have visited since leaving, they are Azores, St Helena, Freetown, Capetown, Durban, from thee to the Mediterranean and as far as Colombo. No further information can be given.
Could you in some way let Mrs Curry know that her letter has been delivered though I have not met him yet, but I will in a few days from now. The weather is very warm her though it is the cool season, in fact the sweat is dropping from my nose at present. Never the less, I feel good and am as brown as a berry all over, the fair skin has to go first. I would like to send Maureen a cable for Christmas but I couldn’t be sure whether she is at the same address or not. I hope to be free to get to Mass, and receive Holy Communion. If I am so unlucky as to not, I hope you will all remember me that morning.
All the best for now and don’t worry, I couldn’t be better.
Your loving son, Johnny
This is supposed to be the best chance for sea mail we have had in the last 5 or 6 weeks so I am hoping it gets to you in a shorter time than the others.
I have just been wondering how you all spent Christmas.
Personally I have had a very good one, perhaps I had something you hadn’t, that was sunshine. Sorry to say I didn’t hear mass that day through no fault of my own.
Able Seaman John McGuckin is commemorated on Plymouth Naval Memorial, Panel 65, Column 3.
He is commemorated on Cookstown Cenotaph.
He is also commemorated on the family headstone in Ballinderry graveyard