Aircraftman 2nd Class
Aircraftman 2nd Class Wilfred Wright (538668) served in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. He was the third son of four of James Wright and Esther Wright of 12 Burnbrae Avenue, Portadown, Co. Armagh.
In civilian life, Wilfred was a tenter in the Tavanagh Weaving Factory in his hometown, working alongside his father before the outbreak of the Second World War. Wilfred, like his father, was also a member of the Independent Order of Rechabites, a member of Hope of Portadown Juvenile Tent Independent Order 1107. As a young man, he was involved with 1st Portadown (Thomas Street) Boys’ Brigade before enlisting in the Royal Air Force at the age of 17 years old. Before the outbreak of war, he was a regular churchgoer, and attended two Christmas Day services at Thomas Street Methodist Church while home on leave in 1939.
Aircraftman 2nd Class Wright died on 4th January 1940 aged 20 years old while serving in R.A.F. 103 Squadron. His cause of death was a cerebral haemorrhage, for which he was undergoing treatment in sick quarters of R.A.F. Warmwell, Dorset, England. On 7th January 1940, the Royal Air Force transported Wilfred’s body back to Northern Ireland.
Wilfred was a good and keen airman, and he will be a loss to the service.
At 1400hrs on 9th January 1940, a funeral service will full military honours took place. The cortege departed from the Wright family home and members of all sections of the local community lined the streets. A carrier proceeded by Officer G. Crump and a detachment from R.A.F. Aldergrove, Co. Antrim bore the coffin, draped in the Union Flag.
The procession made its way through the town via Thomas Street, Carleton Street, Church Street, Market Street, High Street, and Castle Street. Businesses along the route closed to the public and drew their blinds as a mark of respect, while pipers played laments.
The town is moved today as it is not often moved, with a great sympathy and sorrow. The thoughts of many centre in this home as the passing of Mr. Wilfred Wright has brought the war very near to us all. Though he was still in training, we feel he died for his country just the same as if he had died on the battlefield. He was willing to sacrifice himself for the cause of freedom, and our affectionate respect goes out to his father and family.
Reverend G.A. McIlwrath conducted a service at the Wright family home. Reverend J.B. Jameson also conducted a service at the graveside. After this, a military firing party shot 3 volleys into the air, and a bugler sounded the Last Post and Reveille.
Aircraftman 2nd Class Wright’s grave is in Terrace 2, Grave 44 of Drumcree Church of Ireland Churchyard, Portadown, Co. Armagh. His name is on the Portadown War Memorial, Portadown, Co. Armagh. His headstone bears the inscription:
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.