McAtamney clan may hold record for most Northern Ireland family members to serve during World War Two

The story of a Carrickfergus family’s amazing war service record has been told in a new publication.

A presentation during the Second World War to Bobby McAtamney, who was on HMS Hardy and was one of the 'heroes of Narvik'
A presentation during the Second World War to Bobby McAtamney, who was on HMS Hardy and was one of the 'heroes of Narvik'

‘The Fighting McAtamneys’ tells the story of the titular family who had seven members, six men and one woman, in uniform during World War Two.

The family, who came from in Davy’s Street in Carrickfergus, were proud to serve in the Army, Navy and RAF.

Historian and broadcaster Dr David Hume believed that having seven family members in active service during the Second World War could possibly be a record for Northern Ireland.

Roy Jake McAtamey, son of Bobby, chats to Mid and East Antrim Borough Mayor, William McCaughey at the booklet launch

The booklet which Dr Hume researched and produced for Carrickfergus Community Forum highlights the story of the family – three of whom were in the Royal Navy, two in the RAF, one in the Inniskilling Fusiliers and one in the Auxiliary Territorial Service.

The booklet was published by Carrickfergus Community Forum, and chairman Drew McCoubrey, welcomed a large gathering to Carrick Town Hall for the launch.

At the launch was Roy Jake McAtamney, son of Bobby, one of the ‘heroes of Narvik’ who was on board the HMS Hardy.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Mayor William McCaughey said the story of the McAtamney family was not only a proud record for them as a family but also for the town of Carrickfergus.

Dr David Hume MBE, Janice Cherry (Carrickfergus Community Forum), Roy Jake McAtamney, Councillor William McCaughey (Mayor), and Drew McCoubrey (Carrickfergus Community Forum) at the launch of the booklet on The Fighting McAtamneys in Carrick Town Hall

He commented: “Bobby, Thomas, and George were in the Royal Navy, William was in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, Francie and Daniel were in the Royal Air Force and Peggy was in the Auxiliary Territorial Service, and one of 96,000 personnel who provided a vital role in the NAAFI during the war.

“What an outstanding service, but also what an anxious time it must have been at home in Carrick for the family members.”

Officially launching the booklet, the mayor added: “I hope this booklet finds its way into private homes and public places and that the story of the Fighting McAtamneys is as well known in a future generation as it was in those days of the Second World War.”

Dr Hume told the launch that the context of the family service was that the United States had ‘The Fighting Sullivans’ – five Irish-American brothers who served together in the US Navy – and Canada had ‘The Fighting Reillys’ – nine Ulster-Canadians brothers who also served in the Second World War.

He added: “And Carrick has the Fighting McAtamneys. I do not know if they hold the Northern Ireland record for one family’s service in the Second World War, but it is difficult to imagine they do not.

“Whether they do or not, their story is impressive and outstanding and deserves to be well-known and long remembered in their native town.”

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