Mr John Watson Dornan

THE death has taken place of Mr John Watson Dornan, one of the last Second World War veterans from Killyleagh. He was aged 94 and died in Australia.

Watson Dornan was the eldest son of John and Annie Dornan, of Irish Street, Killyleagh. When he was born in 1926, he was given his name of John Watson Dornan in tribute to the rifleman who had sacrificed his life for his father in the Great War.

His father, John, was one of the Killyleagh heroes of the Battle of the Somme with the 13th RIR (the Co Downs) who, when he was wounded for the third time at the third battle of Ypres in August 1917, was carried down the line by a rifleman from the 13th from Ballynahinch called John Watson.

This rifleman was shot and killed by a German sniper as he went back up the line into the trenches.

When John Dornan’s first son was born after the war, he called him John Watson Dornan in tribute to the soldier who gave his life for him, and in tribute to the Watson family from the Toye who had helped raise him.

In the Second World War, Watson joined up to serve in the Royal Navy along with his cousin and best friend Mr Moore Ruddock, both aged 18. They both saw service on D Day. Watson served on HMS Illustrious which was damaged.

After the war, he became a Christian missionary and served in New Zealand, the Philippines and Australia. Watson continued to preach until well into his 80s.

He married Andree and they had two children, Annette and Clive. 

Although his life was spent on the other side of the world, he loved to hear of his good friends in Killyleagh — Hammy Adair, Leslie Watson and Moore Ruddock — and last visited the town of his birth in the early 2000s when he was photographed by the Down Recorder with his brother, Will, and sister Iris. 

He also loved to learn of the progress of the home church where he was raised — 2nd Killyleagh Presbyterian Church.