The Second World War in Northern Ireland

The Second World War in Northern Ireland

"A Letter From Ulster" U.S. Army Film made in Northern Ireland.

The film "A Letter From Ulster" was produced in 1942 by Brian Desmond Hurst who was born in Ribble Street, Belfast in 1985 and had served during the First World War seeing action in Gallipoli where he was wounded.

Hurst went on to be a famous Movie Director for such presentations as "Doctor No", "From Russia With Love" and "A Night To Remember" about the sinking of the Titanic.

To make this film Hurst stayed with 151st Field Artillery of the 34th Infantry Division as they spent their time in Northern Ireland.

A wonderful little film whose locations I can show you here.

The two soldiers about whom the film is worked - Wally and Don Carver.

The film starts with "Mail Call" and the location is the grounds of Tynan Abbey - This is one of the nissen huts which remain today.

Above left the soldiers are marching from Caledon towards Tynan and in the second picture they have passed through the Gates of Tynan Abbey.

The lower pictures show these locations as they look today. (Google)

Here the soldiers are maintaining their Field Guns with my photograph showing the same location looking towards where the original photograph was taken.

As well as all the hard work there still remained time for some relaxation and here are soldiers playing baseball - Note the building and water tank in the background which I have photographed here.

The field where the action was taking place is to the right of the Water Tank.

One of the scenes in the Film shows Wally and Don in a Jeep having crossed the border from Northern Ireland into Neutral Eire.

This was filmed on Gortynan Road which is shown above.

Although much of the movie is filmed in the Tynan area Wally and Don also get some time to do some sightseeing.

As with many visitors to Northern Ireland one of their stops was Carrickfergus Castle.

Walking around the City Walls in Londonderry.

Sorry the light in my comparison photograph is not ideal for good photography.

Difficulties in understanding the Northern Ireland accent are well illustrated in a short piece which is supposed to be the Railway Station at Coleraine however it is actually Cultra.- Sorry for the glare in my photograph.

The Bridge Street Bridge in Strabane. The area has changed considerably.

This picture is at Camp Bellarena in County Londonderry and the same location is shown here as it looks today.

The house at the bottom of the lane on the right is concealed behind greenery - you can make out part of its roof in my picture. - I have much more about this camp within the County Londonderry Section.

At one point in the film a Piano is borrowed from Sir Norman Strong who lived in Tynan Abbey in the grounds of which the Americans were camped.

You can see the Abbey as it once looked in the movie and my photograph of the main entrance as it looks today. 

Sir Norman Stronge, who was 86 years old and his son, Sir James,48 years old, were murdered while watching television in the library of Tynan Abbey on 21 January 1981, by members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army, armed with machine guns, who used grenades to break down the locked heavy doors to force entry.

The impressive Stronge family home which you see in the movie was then burnt to the ground as a result of two bombs which the terrorists had left as they escaped).

Having watched the film a number of times it continues to be a challenge to identify some locations.- I believe this Artillery Range is near Draperstown in County Londonderry.

My colour photograph shows the general area.

The Spitfire aircraft with American markings are rather interesting.

Spitfire Mk.VIII's of 308th Fighter Squadron, 31st Fighter Group, 15th Air Force, USAAF carrying HL codes may have been used in Operation Torch being the Invasion of North Africa in November 1942.

This rather dark still from the film shows one of the soldiers walking past a Nissen Hut towards what I believe was known as The Gun Yard.

This particular building is now gone however the base remains to be clearly seen above.

He then passed this building which is what the Guns were sitting beside in the movie.

As original sign can still be seen inside this building.

The Chapel in which there is a service is St Mary's in Chapel Lane in central Belfast.

Please go to the Video section of this website to watch "Revisiting A Letter From Ulster"

(Thanks to Councillor Marion Smith for information about Brian Desmond Hurst.)