Magennis was the only Victoria Cross winner of the Second World War to hail from Northern Ireland.
This memorial unveiled in 1999, commemorates the awarding of the Victoria Cross to Leading Seaman Magennis, for outstanding bravery in World War II. He served as a diver on H M Midget Submarine XE-3 and was crucial in her attack of the Japanese cruiser Takao on 31 July 1945. The Portland stone memorial was sculpted by Elizabeth McLaughlin and the bronze panels depict the details of his valour.
Magennis has had several memorials erected in his honour. When Magennis first won the VC, he was treated rather badly by the Unionist-dominated Belfast City Council because he was from a working class Roman Catholic family. Although the public collected £3,600 in appreciation of his heroism, the council refused to give him the freedom of the city. The only official recognition was a small photograph tucked away in the robing room of the council chamber.
The first memorial was only erected in 1999 after a long campaign by his biographer George Fleming and Major S.H. Pollock CD (Canada). The memorial, a bronze and stone statue, was officially unveiled in Belfast on 8 October 1999. The ceremony was conducted in the grounds of Belfast City Hall in the presence of Magennis's son Paul, by the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Bob Stoker. Magennis's former commanding officer, Ian Fraser, was reported as saying: "Jim gave me bother from time to time. He liked his tot of rum, but he was a lovely man and a fine diver. I have never met a braver man. It was a privilege to know him and it's wonderful to see Belfast honour him at last." A wall mural commemorating James Magennis on the 60th anniversary of VJ day was unveiled on 16 September 2005 by Peter Robinson, the Democratic Unionist Party Member of Parliament representing East Belfast, including Tullycarnet.
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