Joseph Rooney

Footballer Corporal Joseph Rooney served in 9th Battalion, Gloucester Regiment at his time of death on 5th May 1941 as Luftwaffe bombs fell across East Belfast.


Joseph Rooney


Corporal Joseph Rooney (4036188) served in 9th Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment during the Second World War. Known as Joe and born on 2nd February 1917, he was the son of Joseph Rooney and Elizabeth Jane Rooney of Walker, Tyne and Wear, England.

As a young man, Joe played football for local team Walker Celtic in 1936. He spent the 1937-38 season with professional outfit Wolverhampton Wanderers, playing two games. During his time at Wolves, he deputised for England international Stanley Cullis as centre-half. In 1939, Wolves’ manager Major Frank Buckley encouraged his players to join the services as the Second World War brought competitive professional football to an end.

Rooney enlisted in the British Army and served in Northern Ireland with 9th Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment from October 1940. Within two months, Rooney was on the books, on what was known as the retained list, at Portadown Football Club.

Death in Belfast

Corporal Rooney died on 5th May 1941 aged 24 years old during The Fire Raid of the Belfast Blitz. 9th Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment were based at Victoria Park in East Belfast. Rooney’s place of death was nearby at East Twin Island.

The following excerpt from the Portadown Times on 13th June 1941 informed fans of the Ports of Rooney’s death.

It is now known that Joesph Rooney the Wolverhampton Wanderers centre half, whose name is on the Portadown retained list, was killed in an air raid in Belfast. Rooney, a soldier, signed for Portadown when he came to Northern Ireland in the midddle of the season just ended, but owing to the fine form of George Black he was unable to find his place in the team. In peace time he was deputy to Stanley Cullis the English International centre half. His registration has been cancelled by the English Football League.

His grave is in Section C.P., Grave 31 of Christ Church Churchyard, Walker, Tyne and Wear, England.

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