World War 2 (1939 - 1945)


Image reproduced by permission of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

John (Ian) Russell Walker

Service: Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve
Unit: Fleet Air Arm - Arctic Convoys - HMS Dasher
Rank: Sub Lieutenant (Acting)

John Russell Walker was born on 12 January 1922 in Hamilton, elder son of Ernest and Margaret Walker, latterly of Amulree, Elmwood Avenue Newton Mearns. Together with his brother Gordon, he joined the High School of Glasgow in 1935 and in 1939 joined G&J Weir as an apprentice engineer. He matriculated at the University in 1940 to study Engineering, but in September 1941 he enrolled in the Fleet Air Arm where he reached the rank of Sub Lieutenant (A). He served on the Arctic convoys carrying supplies to Russia.

Britain needed more escort aircraft carriers, but these could not be built quickly enough. America adapted merchantmen to aircraft carriers and leased these to Britain. One of these started out as the merchantman Rio de Janeiro, was converted in the USA, transferred to the Royal Navy and finally commissioned into RN service as HMS Dasher (D37) on 2 July 1942. She participated in Operation Torch, with her sister vessel HMS Biter, carrying Sea Hurricanes of 804 Naval Air Squadron. After doing some aircraft ferrying operations in the Mediterranean, Dasher sailed to the Clyde in March 1943 and, having had her flight-deck lengthened by 42 feet, she embarked Fairey Swordfish aircraft.

She escorted one convoy successfully, but shortly after leaving with the second, Dasher suffered engine trouble and turned back. Shortly after getting to the Firth of Clyde on 27 March 1943, she suffered a major internal explosion and sank. The ship's complement was 555 and 379 lives were lost.

Ian Walker was aged 21 when he was killed. Ian is buried in Mearns Cemetery beside his brother Gordon (see previous) and is also commemorated on the War Memorials in High School of Glasgow, Giffnock South Parish Church, 28th Glasgow (Giffnock) Scout Group and Giffnock Civic Memorial.

Extract from the tribute printed in the Church magazine of Giffnock South Parish Church:


John (Ian) was 21 years of age and was a Sub-lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. Short may have been his years but he lived to much purpose. He was as sunshine to his parents and brother and sister, dearly loved and dearly loving, joying in his devotion and attention to them, and placing their interests first and foremost. Quiet and thoughtful, unselfish and sympathetic, he was popular with all with whom he came in contact. He loved the Royal Navy, joying in its spirit and joying in its comradeships, and always endeavouring to live up to all that was high and noble in its traditions.

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