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Last Updated: Friday, 18 August 2006, 05:50 GMT 06:50 UK
City honours VC winner's heroism
James Magennis was recognised for his bravery in WWII
James Magennis was recognised for his bravery in WWII
Belfast is to honour the achievements of the only person from the city to win a Victoria Cross during WWII.

Seaman James Magennis took part in the midget submarine attack on the Japanese warship, Takao, in 1945.

In 1999, Belfast City Council erected a stone and bronze memorial to Magennis in the grounds of the City Hall.

On Friday, the council and the Northern Ireland branch of the Submariners Association co-hosted a dinner to honour Magennis's heroic actions.

The dinner was attended by former and serving submariners from all over the British Isles, and is to be followed the next morning by a wreath laying ceremony at the Magennis Memorial in the grounds of City Hall.

The Takao, badly crippled in an earlier torpedo attack, was guarding the entrance to Singapore harbour, and stood in the way of the Allied bid to reclaim the city.

During the daring mission to sink it, Magennis had to leave the submarine to clean the hull of the ship so the limpet mines would attach and then manually release one of the mines which would not detach from their craft, the X23.

Magennis memorial, Belfast
A stone and bronze memorial was erected in 1999

The mines and high explosives detonated as planned and Takao settled upright on the bottom of the harbour.

This was the first time a naval diver had successfully exited and re-entered an X craft not just once but three times.

Magennis was awarded the Victoria Cross for his role in the attack.

Lieutenant Ian Frazer, who commanded the vessel, also won the VC for his part and the other two members of the crew received lesser awards.

This was not the first dangerous attack in which Magennis had taken part, as he already had a Mention in Dispatches for his part in the attack on the German battleship Tirpitz earlier in the war.

When asked why he did the things that he had done, his modest reply was that he was only doing the job he had trained for.

At Saturday's ceremony Magennis's son, Paul, will lead the proceedings by laying the first wreath.

Lord Mayor Pat McCarthy also will lay a wreath on behalf of the people of Belfast.

A display of memorial artefacts relating to J.J. Magennis also will be on show inside the City Hall during the day, and members of the Submarine Association, and Magennis` biographer, George Fleming, will be on hand to answer any questions.


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