Sister of Belfast Navy pilot killed in Cyprus receives honour 60 years to the day after his fatal crash
The last surviving sibling of an east Belfast Navy pilot who died during the Cyprus Emergency has received an honour on his behalf - exactly 60 years after his death.
It was an emotional moment for Mabel Lloyd (76) yesterday morning in the Lord Mayor's Parlour at Belfast City Hall as the Lord Lieutenant for Belfast, Fionnuala Jay-O'Boyle, presented her with an Elizabeth Cross in recognition of her brother's sacrifice.
Mrs Lloyd is the last of her six siblings but, in a poignant touch, brought with her to the event the memory of one of her sisters and her mother, by wearing their wedding rings.
Her brother Lieutenant Edward John Wright was killed when the Fairey Gannet AS1 of 847 Naval Air Squadron that he was flying crashed in Nicosia on February 20, 1958 - his 29th birthday.
The third eldest of the family, he was survived by his wife Sheila and baby daughter Carol, both of whom have since passed away.
Lt Wright's best friend Lt Raymond J Greer (29), who was from Belfast, and leading telegraphist Frank J Chivers also died in the crash during a night patrol.
Lt Wright had made two failed attempts to land after the plane's engine failed.
847 Squadron deployed three Fairey Gannets to RAF Nicosia in April 1956 with the role of carrying out patrols to stop ships smuggling arms to insurgents during the emergency, assisting the RAF's 38 Squadron equipped with Shackleton aircraft.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph following the ceremony, Mrs Lloyd said she was 16 when her brother died.
Edward married Sheila in 1954 and the couple had their only child in 1957.
One of the last surviving photographs of Edward is of him cuddling his infant daughter.
Little Carol died when she was just three after being born with a number of health difficulties.
Mrs Lloyd knew her brother more by reputation because he had joined the armed services as a teenager when she was very young, initially the Royal Marines before becoming a commissioned officer with the Royal Navy. "Eddie was a great mischief maker apparently," she said.
"He was a lovely guy; I didn't know him that well because he went off to join the Navy when I was still very young.
"I was the youngest of the six. But what I always remember about him was that he was very particular about his dress.
"If he was going out and saw a wrinkle on his shirt, he would have had to take it off and iron it."
The family grew up in the Beersbridge Road area, with Edward and his brothers and sisters attending Elmgrove Primary School. Mrs Lloyd said her brother initially followed in their father's footsteps by working on the then Belfast and County Down Railway before joining the armed forces.
In 1958 they did not have a telephone in their home, and instead heard the tragic news of Edward's death in Cyprus from his wife.
"Sheila got the telegram and she came up on the train from Bangor to tell us. My parents were devastated," she said.
Their grief was compounded by the fact they were not able to have a funeral for their son in Belfast.
Instead, due to the logistical difficulties of transporting a body back to the UK, Edward was buried in Cyprus.
Mrs Lloyd visited the grave in 1993 at the Wayne's Keep Military Cemetery in Nicosia.
His name has been inscribed at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.
Also present at yesterday's ceremony was the Belfast Lord Mayor Nuala McAllister, senior Naval officer in Northern Ireland Commander Rob Milligan, Lieutenant Paul Melling, assistant training officer at 847, and Emma Jones, Naval representative from HMS Hibernia.
The Elizabeth Cross decoration was inaugurated by the Queen in 2009 to offer recognition to the next-of-kin of members of the armed forces killed in action or as a result of a terrorist attack.
Mrs Lloyd has issued an appeal to find the son of Lieutenant Raymond J Greer who was a baby at the time of his father's death in 1958. It is believed the family lived in Belfast before moving to Portstewart in the 1950s. Lt Greer is reported to have attended the Royal Belfast Academical Institution. Some 371 British servicemen died during the Cyprus Emergency. A researcher is currently looking for the families of 10 other Irishmen who died in Cyprus between 1955-1959, as well as veterans from that period. Anyone with information can email firstname.lastname@example.org