Linfield FC recalls with pride the sacrifice of Thomas Savage

Posted : 6th June 2020 at 10:06:34

Earlier this week reported how former player Corporal Billy Mackay was involved in the Allied forces Normandy campaign in 1944 which got underway on this June 6 date and which has become known as D-Day. It was the day on which the liberation of Europe from Nazi occupation got underway.

A month ago, as part of VE Day commemorations highlighted several club personnel who were involved in the Second World War and we were able to feature a representative from the land, sea and air campaigns.

We featured former physio Len Hiller who served on the Royal Navy ship HMS Voltaire, Sergeant Freddie Fisher whose RAF aircraft was shot down over occupied Burgundy in France and we can now add the name of Corporal Billy Mackay to the list of former players including Lieutenant John Malcolmson Gibson and Bomber Archibald Grant, who served on land in the army.

On today's 76th anniversary of D-Day, we can now add another category of participant and club representative who sadly lost their life during the horrors of the Second World War.

A few weeks ago, while researching the story of Bill Savage who fought in France in World War One and whose goals helped Linfield win the Seven Trophies in 1921/22, the name of another Savage caught my eye.

In the treasure trove of the personal archives of the late chairman David Crawford, there were 2 Savages on the same page - Bill Savage who I've just referred to and Thomas Savage, with one line in particular catching my eye - Killed in a German air raid over Belfast in 1941.

Immediately, my curiosity was aroused and I contacted Linfield's very own military expert, Johnny Jamison to ask him to find out what he could about the circumstances of this particular casualty of war. It was immediately apparent that Thomas Savage was a civilian, rather than a member of the armed forces and before I refer to what Johnny Jamison was able to uncover, I will list all the information provided on Thomas Savage in David Crawford's handwritten records.

Thomas Savage, who was born in 1880, lived at 98 Haypark Avenue in the Ballynafeigh district of South Belfast.

He was employed by the News Letter and he wrote junior notes in the Northern Whig, under the pen name Lynx.

He was a founder member of the Irish Junior league and vice chairman of the minor league.

He was an IFA council member.

Turning towards his involvement with this club, there were 3 references to him as a supporter.

Foundation member of Ballynafeigh LSC - 1932

Presided at 1st meeting of Ballynafeigh LSC - 1932

1st chairman of Ballynafeigh LSC - 1932

And then along with the line 'Killed in an air raid" were the other lines that caught my eye - "produced the Linfield programme from 1926" and "1st editor of the Linfield FC programme 1926-41."

As the current programme editor, it is of course understandable that this reference would stand out in my eyes.

So I waited with huge interest and anticipation on Johnny Jamison getting back to me to tell me more about what happened to a predecessor as programme editor who was killed in an air raid over this city in 1941.

What follows is a huge volume of fascinating material uncovered by Johnny which is reproduced here by way of tribute to and in memory of Thomas Savage and many many other Belfast people who were killed during the 1941 period known as the Blitz. The City Hall was also partly damaged.

Thomas Savage wasn't just a civilian journalist or programme editor - as can be seen below, he was a fire watcher and it was the injuries sustained putting out the fires caused by the Air raid bombings that were to cost him his life in April 1941.

The numerous images provided below by Johnny Jamison will tell some of the tale of that horrific period in the history of this proud city and on this anniversary of the momentous D Day landings, Linfield FC salutes our various personnel who suffered in various ways in the fight for freedom against the oppressor and aggressor.

Johnny Jamison writes “I managed to find some details about Thomas Savage. He lived in Haypark Avenue off Sunnyside street in South Belfast. He was a fire watcher at Harland & Wolff. His job was to put out small fires, maybe started by incendiary bombs that were dropped without having to bring in the fire brigade, as there would have been very limited resources over Belfast during the Blitz. It looks like he was badly injured and died a few weeks later.

In the May raids in 1941 approx 200 German bombers, mainly heinkels 111s unleashed a devastating raid on Belfast, killing many civilians. Falls rd. baths and St .Georges market were used as temporary morgues. Again Belfast was to take another heavy pounding.

A few weeks previously, there were raids on Easter Tuesday in 1941 when parts of Belfast were badly hit. The place was so unprepared, as many people thought it was too far away to be bombed. But they were proved wrong. From then on, a valuable lesson had been learned. And nothing was ever taken for granted again. Northern Ireland was now well and truly at war.“

We salute those who fought on land, sea and air in the Second World War and as can be seen from what follows, we salute those who fought to put the fires out at home.

The loss of Fire watcher and Linfield FC programme editor Thomas Savage as a civilian casualty of war is respectfully acknowledged with honour on the Commonwealth war Graves commission certificate below.

Audaces Fortuna Juvat


In the match referred to below Linfield lost 3-1 to Distillery.

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