Royal Air Force Aldergrove (Belfast International Airport)
If you have arrived in Northern Ireland via Belfast International Airport then congratulations as you have already visited what was Royal Air Force station Aldergrove! - The pictures above right show an unprotected Type c Hangar.
****Sadly on visiting in June 2015 this Hangar has now been demolished****
This is how the Civil Airport as it looked in 1982.
Top left you can see the large blue coloured Hangar which is shown above while in the centre of the photograph are a number of WW2 Military Nissen Huts.
(Thanks to Al McCann for this picture)
This stained glass window showing the R.A.F. Aldergrove station crest can be seen at Killead Church of which there are more details below.
R.A.F. Aldergrove was used by the U.S. 9th Air Force who knew it as AAF 439 and that during 1940 Aldergrove was the Terminus for the North Atlantic Ferry Route to and from the U.S. until Luftwaffe raids forced a move to Prestwick in Scotland.
The Photograph above shows Aldergrove as it looked in 1968. - It gives a good view of the layout of the Airfield. Below is how the Main Gate of R.A.F. Aldergrove looked in 1920. This would have been centre right of the above photograph. (From Belfast Live)
In 1939 Aldergrove was used by the Royal Air Force 3 Bombing and Gunnery School and Number 23 Maintainance Unit.
Here we have some pictures showing an Air Raid Shelter which is partly underground and accessed down steps inside the concrete protection walls. There is access to the shelter from both sides and it is close to a Building which has the typical old "Guard Room" Look. (Thanks very much to Kenny Kirkpatrick and Mark Gaul for their assistance)
Rare Colour Film Footage of R.A.F. at Aldergrove!
I have a "Video" Section on this website showing various films relating to the Second World War in Northern Ireland however the film shown here is excellent footage of life at R.A.F. Aldergrove at the beginning of the war. - Please click on the link below!
Tragic Crash at R.A.F. Aldergrove
At 11.35am on 19th July 1941 Bristol Blenheim Mk IV T2120 of 254 Squadron, R.A.F. Aldergrove was being piloted by Flying Officer Walter Hargreaves King 88706 , who is shown below (Thanks to his Nephew Tony King), when a serious crash occurred.
Flying Officer King had dived the aircraft to low level over the airfield but unfortunately he struck an obstruction. The R.A.F. Aircraft Accident Card has had the description of this obstruction as “Telegraph Pole” crossed out and “Wireless Mast” inserted.
The aircraft crashed into the roof of the NAAFI Building and when the fuel tanks of the aircraft burst the burning fuel set the building alight killing some of the girls who worked there and injuring a number of others.
Some of the wreckage was thrown into a 23 Maintenance Unit Hangar where the Ground Defence Force was drilling – They were practicing a Funeral March for a forthcoming Funeral, and thirteen casualties were sustained including one fatality.
The building circled in this aerial photograph is where the NAAFI building had stood at the time of the crash.
The Aldergrove Operations Record Book refers to “The plane became uncontrollable and it crashed through the roof of the NAAFI building, where the (fuel) tanks burst and set the building on fire. Parts of the wreckage flew in the direction of a 23 Maintenance Unit Hanger, in front of which a party of the Ground Defence Force had been drilling. Some of these men were hit by the wreckage, causing 13 casualties, some fatal.
Some of the girl employees in the NAAFI were trapped in the collapse of the building and killed outright while others were injured.”
Fire Tenders from Aldergrove and Nutts Corner attended and the fire was later extinguished but not before much loss of life and serious injury.
The item above from (The War Illustrated) shows what the N.A.A.F.I. did for Service personnel during the Second World War.
The three crew members of the aircraft, Flying Officer King along with Sergeant Philip Evans Neale, 947874, and Sergeant Richard Edward Lea,552844 who was only 18 years old were killed along with SIX Girls who worked in the NAAFI and one airman, Aircraftsman First Class Clifford Henry Hore, 1301399 who was 20 years old..
Some of the NAAFI girls who were killed were Miss Margaret Castles who was 24 years old and from Blaris Road, Lisburn. She was buried in Belfast City Cemetery from 25 Kitchener Street, Belfast.
Annie Watson from Pernau Street, Belfast was also buried in the City Cemetery (Shown above right) while Annie Violet Crozier from Farnham Street, Belfast is buried in Knockbreda Cemetery (Shown above Left) in Section K Number 301.
I believe the other three NAAFI Girls were Elizabeth Osborne from Ballymacateer, Lurgan, Brigid McGarry from The Largy, Crumlin and Mary Mulholland from Aldergrove whose Headstone is also shown here.
The casualty file which is retained by R.A.F. Air Historical Branch does not contain any details on the unfortunate NAAFI girls. The Air Council asked the NAAFI to convey its condolences to the NAAFI next-of-kin on its behalf, so no details of their names are recorded with the single exception of Miss Osbourne, who’s sister thanked the Air Council via the NAAFI.
Along with the fatalities a further TEN Airmen, one of whom being David Comer who spent over a year in Hospital recovering from his injuries. FOUR NAAFI Girls and a Civilian Worker were all injured. - With all that burning aviation fuel flying around I am sure it was a horrible scene.
Operations Room at Aldergrove
These two photographs show the Operations Room at R.A.F. Aldergrove.
In the top picture a Civilian Meteorologist is Briefing the Crew of a Consolidated Liberator with regard to the Weather then can expect in their forthcoming Sortie. (I.W.M.)
"Link Trainer" at Aldergrove
Here is a Pilot Officer in control of a "Link Trainer" at Aldergrove with the second picture shows the Student under Instruction. (I.W.M. Photographs)
I took these photographs of a Link Trainer at an Air Museum in Prague, Czech Republic.
The two pages above show a "Link Trainer" in operation. From a 1939 Issue of "The War Illustrated" (The War Illustrated)
Bristol Bombay at Aldergrove
This Bristol Bombay Mk 1, L5838 is shown here during a Test Flight from Aldergrove before joining 216 Squadron, R.A.F. in the Middle East. (IWM)
Royal Air Force Handley Page Heyford, Aldergrove, 13th November 1939
These photographs show the Crew walking out to their Aircraft before climbing aboard and the final picture shows the aircraft at 6000 feet. (All I.W.M. Photographs)
Handley-Page Harrow at Aldergrove
This Handley-Page Harrow Transport Aircraft K6996N from 271 Squadron, R.A.F. based at Doncaster is shown here at Aldergrove. (I.W.M. Photo)
Hawker Henley at Aldergrove
Hawker Henley Light Bomber photographed at R.A.F. Aldergrove on 13th November 1939.(I.W.M. Photograph)
Fairey Swordfish at Aldergrove
The first two photographs show a Fairey Swordfish photographed at R.A.F. Aldergrove on 17th November 1939 whilst the second two are dated 14th April 1940 and show Swordfish flying from Aldergrove. (Imperial War Museum Photographs)
Restored Bristol Blenheim in Flight.
Here are a few pictures of a Bristol Blenheim similar to those flown from R.A.F. Aldergrove by the Royal Air Force.
254 Squadron Royal Air Force Aldergrove
The first photograph was taken in May 1941 and shows six Blenheim aircraft from R.A.F. Aldergrove.
My considerable thanks goes to the folks from the Northern Ireland Aviation Forum for identifying the location over which these aircraft are flying. On the left side you can see the aptly named Seven Mile Straight and centre of the picture would be Templepatrick with Mallusk to the right.
Bristol Blenheim aircraft at Aldergrove and airborne.(Imperial War Museum Photographs)
245 (Northern Rodesian) Squadron R.A.F. Aldergrove.
The 3 photographs above show a crew from 245 (Northern Rodesian) Squadron, Royal Air Force based at Aldergrove and were taken on 19th November 1940. (I.W.M. photographs)
86 Squadron, Royal Air Force, Aldergrove
Mechanics undertake their daily inspection of the engines of Consolidated Liberator GR Mark III, FL907, of No. 86 Squadron RAF, at Aldergrove, County Antrim and
Liberator GR Mark IIIA, LV345 'E', parked in a dispersal at Aldergrove.
(Imperial War Museum Photographs)
120 Squadron, Royal Air Force, Aldergrove
No 120 Squadron Liberator III's undergoing daily inspections at Aldergrove, April 1943. Here, an armourer cleans out the gun barrels of the rear turret.
The smiling crew of a No 120 Squadron Liberator, 'X for X-Ray', photographed at Aldergrove in the small hours of the morning, prior to taking off on a convoy patrol far out into the Atlantic, April 1943. (I.W.M. Photographs)
Royal Air Force Liberator Mk1. AM922 approaching Aldergrove.
This aircraft had various roles within the R.A.F. flying with 120 Squadron Special Duties Flight, Number 1425 Communication Flight and finally 511 Squadron.
233 Squadron, Royal Air Force Aldergrove
These are six Lockheed Hudson Mk II and MkIII aircraft from 233 Squadron based at R.A.F. Aldergrove.
The photograph was taken on 30th May 1941. (Imperial War Museum Photograph)
This Hudson Mk II is from 233 Squadron and is returning to R.A.F. Aldergrove from a Convoy Patrol. (IWM Photograph)
Restored Hawker Hurricaine in Flight
The Hawker Hurricane shown here is a Mk IIc as flown from Aldergrove by 518 Sqn. R.A.F.
245 Squadron Royal Air Force Aldergrove
Here are Hurricaine Mk 1 Aircraft from R.A.F. Aldergrove in 1940.
This is Squadron Leader J.W.C. Simpson D.F.C. Commanding Officer of 245 Squadron sitting in the Cockpit of his Hawker Hurricane Mk.1 W9145 DX-L at Aldergrove on the day before he shot down his twelfth Enemy Aircraft (I.W.M. Picture)
Czechoslovakian Pilot Vaclav Foglar
Shown here is Vaclav Foglar who joined the French l'Armee de l'Air in 1939 but with the French collapse imminent he went to England in June 1940 and enlisted in the RAF as a Sergeant.
He joined 245 Squadron at Aldergrove on 9th October 1940 then went to 249 Squadron at North Weald on 10th November and then to 17 Squadron at Martlesham Heath on the 18th. In early 1942 he was serving with 313 Squadron at Hornchurch and on 10th April claimed a Me109 destroyed. Foglar was commissioned in May 1942 and in the following August went as a test pilot to various maintenance units before returning to 313 on 1st February 1943.
On 14th March 1944 he was posted to 105 (Transport) OTU where he formed a crew with F/O J Grygar and F/Lt. L Kral, they went on to 147 Squadron, where he flew Dakotas until the end of the war. Foglar was awarded the Czech Military Cross.
502 (Ulster) Squadron, Royal Air Force, Aldergrove.
Hawker Hind aircraft from 502 (Ulster) Squadron at R.A.F. Aldergrove.
Lough Neagh and Lough Beg can be seen in the background. (Imperial War Museum Photograph)
Taken on 18th November 1940 these pictures show men from 502 (Ulster) Squadron, R.A.F. arming a Whitley Mk V, harmonising the Gun Sites and then loading 250lb Bombs into the Aircraft. (I.W.M. Pictures)
Above left the crew of a Whitley MkVII from 502 Squadron on Anti-Submarine Patrol over the Atlantic Ocean in August 1942 with a Line-up of Avro Anson Mark 1s (N5234 nearest), of No. 502 Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force at Aldergrove
An Anson of No 502 Squadron undergoing a major inspection at Aldergrove in April 1940 and another being refuelled. (Imperial War Museum Photographs)
Restored Supermarine Spitfire
These pictures show a Supermarine Spitfire similar to those flown from Aldergrove by 518 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Havoc Mk 1 Intruder at Aldergrove
This Havoc Mk1 Intruder is shown flying from Aldergrove with experimental camouflage pattern. (IWM Picture)
Lockheed Hudson at Aldergrove
This is Lockheed Hudson MkIII T9431 VX-B from 206 Squadron Royal Air Force at Aldergrove on patrol over the Atlantic. (IWM Picture)
Vickers Wellington at Aldergrove
This Vickers Wellington MkII W5379 on the left is shown on a flight from Aldergrove prior to it's delivery to 12 Squadron R.A.F. based at Binbrook, Lincolnshire. This aircraft was lost whilst on a mission to Cologne on 11th October 1941.
The three Vickers Wellington aircraft are from 311 (Czech) Squadron, Royal Air Force who were based at Aldergrove before following a number of other aircraft in leaving during July 1942. (Imperial War Museum Photographs)
The first Transatlantic delivery flight arrived at Aldergrove on 11th November 1941 when 7 Hudson Bombers arrived from Newfoundland following a flight lasting approx 9 ½ hours.
Air defence of Belfast was provided by Hawker Hurricanes as well as Atlantic Convoy escorts being operated with R.A.F. Coastal Command Squadrons arriving in 1940 and operated Liberators as shown here.
This photograph shows R.A.F. Aldergrove as it looked on 30th May 1951.
This is the location of the R.A.F. Aldergrove Bomb Store with the first picture showing the access lane from British Road. I have included the map where this is the straight lane below the letter "B".
Further down the map you can see the 6 small square buildings of the Bomb Store surrounded by a track. Sadly this is within the grounds of the Belfast International Airport so there is no access however my final photograph has been taken through the fence looking towards the Bomb Store which would be clearly visible from aircraft departing or arriving at the International Airport.
Luftwaffe Kondor shot down by Aldergrove Aircraft
The first photograph shows a Luftwaffe Focke-Wulf FW200 Kondor Atlantic which has been shot down by Lockheed Hudson AM536 Mk V from Number 233 Squadron Royal Air Force based at R.A.F. Aldergrove while it was trying to attack a Convoy.
You can see the crew making their way to a Dinghy whilst here there is a Vickers Wellington from 221 Squadron R.A.F., based at Limavady guiding an Escort Vessel to the Dinghy.
Royal Air Force, Nutts Corner
Built for use by Coastal Command of the Royal Air Force this airfield was operational in 1941 and some years later was used for the Trans Atlantic Supply Route with U.S.A.A.F. Flying Fortress aircraft arriving from 1943.
There are a few buildings and some of the diamond hard-standings as well as sections of runway remain.
Shown directly above is a shelter which is in great condition. The internal picture shows the strength that the shelter must possess with the outside being well camouflaged.- There is a market here every Sunday which attracts hundreds of people looking for a bargain!
Nutts Corner Bomb and Components Stores
The building shown in the top two pictures is a Bomb Store. There are 2 large metal H Iron girders which hang from the roof. This is one of two buildings in close proximity to each other which are shown in the third picture. I have been told that this design refers to Air Ministry Drawing AM18185/40.
The last picture shows the 2 buildings from above with the second one appearing to be a Components Store.
This very sturdy bridge was constructed so that Trucks laiden with Bombs could cross this small stream with ease. - Although it looks as if the Fence Posts have been damaged on more than one occasion.
This is a Components Store of which two were required for each Bomber Station bolding 144 Gross Tons of High Explosive Bombs.
Inside the structure is an L shaped room (Shown below) which was used for storing Exploders, Pistols and Fuses. The other entrance is to a smaller cubicle shaped room which would have contained the bomb Detonators.
Nutts Corner Buildings
The building shown above appears to be some sort of electricity generator structure and is standing in the middle of a field between Nutts Corner and the Manse Road.
This building can be seen in a field close to the final roundabout before approaching Belfast International Airport at Aldergrove.
I hope you can see the yellow and black vertical stripes which are to both the front and rear of the building which is positioned close to the end of one of the old runway of Nutts Corner Airfield.
I believe it was some sort of indicator for aircraft and the sturdy metal grill shown in the last picture may have been for some signalling equipment however this is yet to be confirmed so we have ourselves a mystery!!
Nutts Corner Airfield Pumphouse
These pictures show a Pumphouse which can be seen on the old Nutts Corner Airfield close to the Racing Circuit.
Flight-Lieutenant Terry Bulloch at Nutts Corner
Terry Bulloch is shown front centre. For full details of his actions in Coastal Command and his Obituary see the " Information - People" section.
Seated (left to right): Pilot Officer M F Dear (2nd pilot), Flight Lieutenant Bulloch (pilot and Captain), and Pilot Officer M B Neville (navigator); standing (left to right): Sergeant F N Hollies, Sergeant J W Turner, Sergeant G Millar and Sergeant R McColl. (IWM Photo)
Nutts Corner Shelters
The pictures here show two rather large Air Raid shelters which were part of the Nutts Corner Complex. - They are both what was known as "Stanton" shelters and are constructed of concrete sections which were easily assembled to the required length and covered with earth and camouflage.
The last of the pictures here shows a Stanton Shelter with roof exit. - It should be remembered that this would have been entirely covered with earth.
It is amazing that even after so many years and all of the old buildings which have been removed that it is still possible to find such remnants.
Nutts Corner Aircraft
Liberator Mark I, AM910, on the ground following conversion as an anti-submarine aircraft. ASV (Air to Surface Vessel) ocean-scanning radar, and four 20mm fixed cannon mounted in a tray under the sealed forward half of the bomb-bay. In September 1941, AM910 joined No. 120 Squadron at Nutts Corner, County Antrim, as ‘OH-M’, serving until 13 April 1942, when it was damaged and reduced to spares.(I.W.M. Photograph)
Engine check on a 120 Squadron Liberator in April 1942 is shown above with Supermarine Spitfire Mark VII MD159 and a Halifax bomber overflying Nutts Corner airfield during 1945.
I believe the Halifax has the "Y3" Squadron Code making this airfraft from 518 Squadron, R.A.F. based at Aldergrove. (For more information visit the excellent Airfield Information Exchange website)
Nutts Corner Lost Liberator
The journey across the Atlantic Ocean from the United States to the European Theatre of Operations was both long and of considerable risk.
One of the countless aircraft which made the trip was a B24 Liberator which was on it’s way to Nutts Corner however this particular journey was to end at approx 22.50 on Monday 19th June 1944 not at Nutts Corner but with a crash near Ballyshannon in the Republic of Ireland which remained Neutral during the War.
The Crew of 10 consisted of Lieutenant Marvin J. Reddick, Lieutenant Arthur H. Dittmar, Lieutenant Arnold A.Grueber, Sergeant Edward J.Friedl, Sergeant George H. Smith, Sergeant Lester M. Clarke, Corporal James O.E.Harvey, 2nd Lieutenant Wayne R. Davis, Corporal Riley M. Cannon and Sergeant Carlos F. Maestas.
They had flown via Goose Bay in Newfoundland and as a result of the crash two of these men, Corporal Riley M. Cannon and Sergeant Carlos F. Maestas were killed with another six being injured.
It is believed that the aircraft had been running low on fuel and on reaching land the pilot, Arthur H. Dittmer, was looking for a place to land when the crash occurred.
All of the Crew were returned to Northern Ireland along with the bodies of Cannon and Maestas.
(Thanks to “Ballyshannon Musings”)
Nutts Corner Airfield Plan
Shown above is how Nutts Corner looked on 26th July 1941 whilst the photograph above right shows how the airfield had evolved in 1944.
Shown above is a U.S. European Wing Air Transport Command Approach Map, Field diagram and other Information regarding Nutts Corner Airfield. (Thanks very much to Peter Graham)
Langford Lodge A.A.F. 597
Langford Lodge seen from the Southeast. (IWM Photograph)
The large airfield at Langford Lodge was known as BAD-1, A.A.F. 597 and was a United States Army Air Force 3 Base Air Depot Supply and Maintenance Depot.
Built on the site of the large estate of the Packenham family the old manor house has long gone however Gartree Church, which is shown below, is situated in the centre of the complex.
Langford Lodge Control Tower
Here are some photographs I have taken of the Control Tower at Langford Lodge.
The second picture clearly shows the Slanted windows which were designed to prevent glare from sunshine temporarily blinding pilots.
The final view is from the opposite side of the building as previous. (Old photograph from Ulster Aviation Society)
Langford Lodge - Inside the Lockheed Hangar.
Inside the specially constructed Lockheed Hangar with its large production area and huge doors.
General Eisenhower's Caravan HQ Built at Langford Lodge
WHEN General Eisenhower was following the Troops across Europe following D-Day he did so in a specially equipped Caravan which had been constructed at Langford Lodge by the Lockheed Overseas Corporation.
It was important for him to maintain close contact with the various advancing Armies and he did so, as well as maintaining direct telephone communication with Supreme Allied Headquarters in London, from a three-unit trailer caravan which he referred to as his "Circus Wagon"
The floor of the caravan had polished black linoleum, grey walls and green-leather upholstered furniture.
It took less than 60 days for the construction of the Trailers, which were 60 feet long, to be completed following the placement of the order and it is worthy of note that it was in this caravan that General Eisenhower spent the night of 5th / 6th June 1944 whilst Allied Airborne Troops were landing by both Parachute and Glider in Normandy at the beginning of Operation Overlord.
One of the visitors to this Caravan was Winston Churchill.
Mr G.V. Russel, who was a Lockheed Engineer, had designed the Caravan along with the Equipment layout and careful consideration was given to the use of the Caravan for living quarters as well as an Operational Headquarters.
Conference Tables along with Maps and even a screen on which to project reconnaissance films were all included as well as separate sleeping and eating quarters and an office.
A Bunk Bed, Kitchenette, Shower and Chemical Lavatory were all included and whilst there were no windows an Air Conditioning system was included.
(For More Information visit http://archive.commercialmotor.com/article/3rd-november-1944/30/general-eisenhowers-trailer-headquarters which is available to EVERYONE.)
Belfast Blitz Orphans at Langford Lodge
The Belfast Blitz Orphaned children shown on the left are taxied up and down the runway at Langford Lodge. They were among 15 children, shown above, who were guests of Lockheed Overseas Corporation American Technicians.
Left to Right are Robert R, Albert Q, Jean T, Annie and Miss Netta Heaslip of the Belfast Council For Social Welfare. April 1943.
All 15 of the children are shown in this photograph and in each case they had lost their parents in the Bombing Raids on Belfast.
Workers from the Lockheed Overseas Corporation at Langford Lodge raised $6,500 to help the children and this was lodged in a Trust Fund for the children when they reached 18 years of age.
This photograph was sent to Mr Ernie Cromie of the Ulster Aviation Society by Anneliese Ogden whose Father was the General Manager at Langford Lodge from 1942 until 1944.
(Photograph on left from Fold3 and above from Belfast Telegraph)
Joe Louis Visits Langford Lodge
This is Joe Louis at Langford Lodge in 1944.He was the Heavyweight Boxing World Champion in consecutive years from 1937 until 1949.
(Ulster Aviation Society Photograph)
Working Life at Langford Lodge
Here we see inside the Mess Hall at Langford Lodge as it looked on 5th March 1943. (Fold 3 Photograph which is available to EVERYONE)
Tea Time for both U.S. Servicemen and the Women in the Production Shops.
A Lockheed Technician prepares a tyre for recapping at Langford Lodge on 5th March 1943.
Engineering Files and Drawings in Langford Lodge are shown on the left with the Laundry and Dry Cleaning Room on the right.
(Thanks very much to Margaret for the pictures shown above)
Work is taking place on Lockheed P-38 Lightnings as well as Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress aircraft at Langford Lodge.
The Mess Hall is shown to be busy and the Accommodation can best be described as Cramped.
A B-24 Liberator can be seen in the centre of the picture on the left whilst trees are being cleared all around for the development of the Airfield.
On the right are a row of Thunderbolts beside one of the Hangars at Langford Lodge.
(The 6 pictures above are from the BBC Website and Tailwind)
This picture shows a Technician of Lockheed Overseas Corporation operating the controls of an Engine Test Stand at Langford Lodge on 5th March 1943.
(From Fold 3 which is available to EVERYONE below:-https://www.fold3.com/s.php#query=Northern+Ireland&preview=1&t=495)
Entertaining the Personnel at Langford Lodge
Above are "Yvette and her G.I. Gang" who arrived at an unspecified Air Base to entertain the Airmen.
The men are front left to right Private Peter Chichetti of Tuxedo, New York, Private Stefan Krayk of Chicago, Illinois, Private First Class Allen Tonken of Somerville, New Jersey, Private Carmen Montone of Auburn, New York, Private E.C. Happy-Norman of Los Angeles, California.
Back Row - Private Walter Nutter of Lake Placid, New York, Private Russell Padrich of Lomberville, New Jersey, Private Eddie Kas of Loraine, Ohio, Captain D.R. Kenzie of Middlesboro, Massachusetts, Special Services Officer, Private Tom Joha of Milwaukie, Wisconsin, Miss Yvette of Birmingham, Alabama, Staff Sergeant Hal Craig of Vermont, Massachusetts, Captain Bernard Szold of Holywood, California, Officer in Charge of Tour, Private Bill J Weldon of McAlester, Oklahoma and Private William Bartos from Brooklyn, New York. The photograph was taken on 18th july 1943.
This is an Identification Card which was issued by Lockheed Overseas Corporation to it's Employees who worked at Langford Lodge.
This particular I.D. Card was issued to Charles H. Stover. (BBC Photograph)
Gartree Church and Glenn Miller
Gartree Church of Ireland church was built by the Packenham Family (Of which a number became Generals in the British Army) in 1832 and their family pew still remains complete with its fireplace!
The Church is situated at Largy Road, Crumlin within what was United States Army Air Force Station 587 at Langford Lodge.
In the summer of 1942 a pedal organ was presented to Gartree by the 8th Army Air Force whose Chaplain Reverend Norman Nygaard preached at a service in Gartree on 7th February 1943.
It is said that Glenn Miller worshipped in the church and played the organ on Sunday 13th August 1944 at a time when he was travelling around entertaining U.S. Personnel.
He had played in the camp cinema known as the “Project Magnet Hall” to an audience of 750 after earlier performing at the Plaza Ballroom in Central Belfast which had become the American Red Cross Club.
It was only a few weeks later that the aircraft in which Glenn Miller was travelling was lost over the English Channel.
The final picture above shows Glenn Miller with a Trumpet standing outside the Library Building at Langford Lodge on the same day he played the Organ at Gartree Church. (Ulster Aviation Society Photograph)
Glenn Miller photographed in Northern Ireland. (BT Photograph)
Major Glenn Miller conducting his Band during an Open Air Concert. (U.S. Air Force Photograph)
Langford Lodge Runway
This is one of the Runways at Langford Lodge.
It is difficult to make out the numbers which have faded as the years have passed. I believe it is either 02, 03 or 08.
Langford Lodge Aircraft
Thunderbolt aircraft arriving at Langford Lodge is shown on the left with the picture on the right showing a large number of Bombers based at Langford Lodge.
In the second picture you can see a few other twin and single engined aircraft as well as a Trench System which would probably have been for shelter from any bombing.
The large hangar was built by personel from Lockheed Overseas Corporation and the development of the site was of such a scale that roadways and even a new railway line were built to service the base.
The picture above right shows four newly delivered B-17 aircraft parked at Langford Lodge in March 1944. (Photograph from "British Military Airfields" Book by David J. Smith)
Aircraft began arriving in November 1942 and soon BAD-1 A.A.F. 597 became the busiest airfield in Northern Ireland. - I believe the Control Tower was one of the first in the United Kingdon to incorporate angled windows to prevent glare from the sun. All of the Aircraft in these pictures are at Langford Lodge.
Much of the airfield remains and is operated by an engineering company as well as Martin Baker ejection seats. The land is farmed with the farmer now using the Lockheed hangar to store his machinery and the old camp hospital is a sturdy cowshed. The Church is open on Sundays.
B-24 Liberator "Suzy" at Langford Lodge in Spring 1943 (Thanks to Ernie Cromie)
The B-24 Liberator Bomber "Scorpio" is photographed at Langford Lodge however it went on to serve with the15th Air Force and was lost on 2nd March 1945.
Lockheed P-38 Lightnings at Langford Lodge aircraft depot, January 1944 with a 'Droop Snoot' Lockheed P-38 Lightning being prepared for run up, on the apron adjacent to Hangar No.5 at Langford Lodge.
Lockheed P-38 Lightning shown with engines running. Note the R.A.F. Douglas A-20 beside it.
Above is a Lightning with A-20 and note the Willys Jeep marked "LOC" for Lockheed Overseas Corporation.
(The selection of pictures above are from Imperial War Museum)
Factory fresh B-17 Flying Fortesses, a B-24 Liberator, and possibly a Waco CG-4A, on the flight test strip at Langford Lodge on 13th April 1944.
B-17 '2107151' was recorded at Grenier Field, New Hampshire on 7 April 1944 en route to the UK. It went to the 401st BG, (coded IW-B) acquired the name 'Cover Girl' and survived the war.
'2102518' went to the 384th BG (coded JD-K) and was salvaged in Germany towards the end of 1945, bearing the name 'Damn Yankee'.
'2106992' went to the 401st BG,(coded SC-D) acquired the name 'Baby Lu' Her name was augmented by the Vargas artwork from the Esquire magazine centerfold, "Pistol Packin' Mama." Survived the war.
'2107084' was also assigned to the 401st BG (coded IW-G) and nicknamed "Betty's Revenge." She was lost 7 October 1944 over Politz; the navigator, bombardier & radio operator were all KIA.
The furthest aircraft B-17G 42-97664, joined the 401st BG on 17 April 1944. Coded IY-F, she was nicknamed "Aw, Come On." She also served with the 612th Bomb Sq (re-coded SC-X) and had completed 45 missions by the war's end.
(Visit http://www.americanairmuseum.com/for more information on the above)
Langford Lodge in 1944. (Thanks to Hugo at ARG.)
The Thunderbolt P-47C 41-6254 HV-Y “Bashful” crashed on 18 May 1944 with pilot Henry F Glass, 312 Fighter Squadron 27th Fighter Group. The artwork of Bashful can still be seen on the right cowling.
Langford Lodge on 6 July 1944. 42-7870 "Pappy" was coded LM-R when with the 56th Fighter Group and assigned to Major Horace C. "Pappy" Craig.
George T Langford was the Pilot with 312th Ferrying Squadron when the accident shown here occurred.
(From the excellent Website "Little Friends" at http://www.littlefriends.co.uk/)
In the following picture 42-7870 is shown with different Nose Art. (For more visit http://www.asisbiz.com/il2/P-47D/)
The Pilot of this C-47 41-7837 lost control on landing at Langford Lodge on 27th October 1942. (From http://www.aerialvisuals.ca)
On 25th July 1943 B-17F 42-3414 "Paddlefoot" was having guns installed within Hangar 2 at Langford Lodge when the Technician pulled the trigger and discharged a number of bullets, four of which struck B-17F 42-3433 starting a fire within the aircraft!
After repair the aircraft was named "Lena" and assigned to 350th Bombardment Squadron however it was shot down over Lambeck.
Seven of the Crew survived with the remaining three going down with the aircraft including 2nd Lieutenant Robert P. Kramer who is shown here on his wedding day with his wife Leona
This Thunderbolt P-47D 42-74643 was one of a flight of 4 Thunderbolts which arrived at Langford Lodge on 2nd October 1943.
With the undercarriage only extended one third the aircraft touched down and the wheels collapsed while the propeller struck the runway.
B-17G 42-39809 was involved in an incident at Langford Lodge on 8th November 1943 after arriving from nearby Nutts Corner when the right Landing Gear collapsed whilst taxiing.
On 22nd February 1944 42-39809 was on a bombing mission to Oschersleben, Germany when it was shot down with the loss of Lieutenant Joseph Calvin, Co-Pilot, who was Killed on his 3rd mission.
The other Crew Members, LT Raymond L. McDonald (Pilot), LT W.L. Kontur (Navigator), LT George H. Bean (Bombadier), SGT David Gabriel (Tail Turret), SSGT Le Pierce (Radio Operator), SSGT Richard Egger (Ball Turret), SSGT Anthony Franzo (Waist Gunner), SSGT Rufus T. Odom (Waist Gunner), SSGT Robert Egger (Turret Gunner) all became Prisoners of War.
The crew was particularly unusual in that two of its members, Richard and Robert Egger, were brothers, and served together aboard the same aircraft.
They are shown in the two photographs here.
(For more information please visit http://384thbombgroup.com/)
On 19th January 1944 B-17G 42-38053 was flying from Goose Bay, Canada to Nutts Corner Airfield when the crew realised there was a problem with the Landing Gear.
The Right Gear would not lower so the aircraft diverted to Langford Lodge and after ditching the Ball Turret into Lough Neagh and burning off most of his fuel a successful "Wheels-Up" Landing was carried out causing only minor damage.
42-38053 subsequently served with the name "Cap'n Crow" which was in a form up accident over their base on 7 May 1944 when preparing to fly to Berlin. The aircraft had flares stored in the top turret which exploded and the pilot ordered the crew to bail out but sadly 5 of the Crew lost their lives.
(For more information please visit http://www.americanairmuseum.com)
Lockheed Lightning F-5C 42-67105 was being Flight Tested at Langford Lodge on 22nd January 1944. On landing the aircraft skidded off the end of the runway and nosed over causing damage to engines, propellers, nose gear and the nose section of the aircraft.
Sadly this was not the last accident to involve this aircraft. It went to 9th Air Force on 30th April 1944 and was with 33rd Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron the following month.
On 31st May 1944 the aircraft crashed on Banstead Downs Golf Club in Surrey, England killing the Pilot Lieutenant Andrew L Jackson.
An eyewitness reported that the aircraft "burst into a mass of flames and most of the parts of the machine were flung forward and some backwards."
(For more please visit http://www.33rdprs.photorecon.org).
On 20th April 1944 B-17G 42-102416 was in the circuit over Nutts Corner airfield however the Pilot could not extend his Left Wheel so he diverted to Langford Lodge for an Emergency Landing.
Guns were removed and the Ball Turret dropped into Lough Neagh before the Landing was attempted.
All engines were cut before touch-down and no injuries were sustained.
This aircraft became "Lady Luck" and John A Miller, a waist gunner of the 100th Bomb Group is shown here wearing his A-2 Flying Jacket decorated with the nose art of the B-17 Flying Fortress he flew in, B-17 (serial number 42-102416) nicknamed "Lady Luck".
This aircraft was subsequently assigned to 349Bomber Squadron, 100Bomber Group based at Thorpe Abbotts on 19th April 1944 but was hit by Flak at Saint Lo on 25th July 1944.
The Crew on this Mission was Larry Townsend, Co-pilot: Andy Burkhart, Navigator: Arnold Holmes, Bombardier: George Gardner, Radio Operator: Lou Glasser, Ball turret gunner: Chalmers Anderson, Waist gunner: Gordon Lane,Tail gunner: Earl Milam with Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Walt Kolar.
All the Crew parachuted from the aircraft and the first eight named here became Prisoners of War whilst Kolar evaded capture and joined a U.S. Army Tank Crew!!
(For more information visit http://www.americanairmuseum.com/)
On 12th August 1944 B-24D 41-29528 landed at Langford Lodge from B.A.D.2 at Wharton in England. On touching down the aircraft swerved to the right and rad off the runway onto soft ground causing the nose wheel to collapse.
41-29528 is shown here as "Ole Andy of Kansas" and is pictured at Herrington, Kansas in March 1944 just a few months before the crash at Langford Lodge.
(Visit http://www.487thbg.org/Photos/OleAndyofKansas.shtml for more)
Shown on the right is a C-47 carrying General Frank which was the first to land on Langford Lodge's newly constructed runway.
B-24 Liberator "Q For Queenie" declared War Weary and salvaged at Langford Lodge on 11th November 1944.
Flying Fortress B-17 42-31140 shown in storage at Langford Lodge. On looking at the picture you will see "WW" painted on the tail - This refers to "War Weary" (From William Lindsay's excellent book "Wartime Langford Lodge")
Liberator B-24D 42-40068 is shown above in action (From http://www.worldwarphotos.info). On 20th April 1943 this aircraft had taken off from Langford Lodge to travel to England however shortly after take-off all the engines stopped and the Pilot, Lieutenant Elmer Reinhart crash landed into a field near R.A.F. Aldergrove.
Sadly the Radio Operator, Technical Sergeant Roger A. Maillett was killed.
At the time it was called "Lynn Bari" however as can be seen from the photograph above this aircraft was subsequently repaired and went into action.
B-24 Liberator "Old Blister Butt" salvaged War Weary at Langford Lodge on 29th May 1945.
B-24 "Lonesome Polecat" at Langford Lodge in May 1945. (From Old Buckshots)
The De Havilland Mosquito Mk16, Serial Number NS-557 was serving with 802nd Reconnaissance Group and crashed on landing at Langford Lodge on 6th August 1944. It is shown here being hoisted onto a low loader truck.
(From the excellent book "Wartime Langford Lodge" by William Alan Lindsay)
The B-24 42-64473 shown above was unusual in that it has differing Nose Art on each side. "LOVER'S LANE" was on the port side and "YUVADIT" on the starboard side.
Repaired at Oulton between 7th and 17th August 1944 after landing there with
two engines feathered on returning on 5th August from a mission to Brunswick.
Salvaged war weary on 29th May 1945 at Langford Lodge.
Restored B-17 Flying Fortress
These photographs show a B-17 "Flying Fortress" which was a common sight in Northern Ireland during WW2.
Although primarily flown by the United States Army Air Force it is worthy of note that the B-17 was also flown from Aldergrove by 220 Squadron Royal Air Force.
The Nose Art on this aircraft is both "Sally B" and "Memphis Belle"
Here is a view of the inside of a B-17 and Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress aircraft on a Bombing Run during the War. (From U.S. Army in WW2 Pictorial Record)
Langford Lodge Hospital
This is the Hospital at Langford Lodge.
The first photograph is looking towards the Hospital from the Airfield with above being the Front Door and Reception Area inside.
These photographs show a Corridor along with one of the Hospital Wards.
The old Black and white picture shows the Hospital from the rear looking towards the Airfield as it looked during WW2. (From Action Stations 7 book)
Langford Lodge Searchlight
This is a searchlight building which is located beside the shore of Lough Neagh.
This would have been a coastal type light and its purpose would have been to scan the waters of the Lough for anything which was approaching.
The mountings on the roof show that this "Defence Electric Light" would have been tripod mounted and may have been an 18 inch diameter Halls Light.
Please be aware that access to this building is via Loughview Road however it is restricted.
There is a Gate across the the laneway however a telephone number is given at the gate for contact purposes.
Light Anti Aircraft Battery, Langford Lodge
This appears to have been quite a substantial Light Anti Aircraft battery. It is situated on Bay Road close to Langford Lodge in the townland of Ballymacmary.
There appears to have been a number of gun positions with footpath access, which is now overgrown, through the hedge at Bay Road towards the remaining concrete.
At the bottom of the hill are more concrete positions where a building had been located and where vehicles could be left under tree cover.
The picture on the left shows a view from the bottom positions looking towards the Gun Positions which are also positioned under visual cover of trees.
Langford Lodge Dispersed Living Quarters Site 3
These buildings are all at Dispersed Living Quarters Site 3 which, according to an old Site Plan, had over 40 buildings on this site alone!
The photographs above show that the large buildings were Ablution Blocks with Showers and Toilet Facilities.
Langford Lodge Site 4
This is an interesting area which was part of the huge Langford Lodge Complex.
On looking at a Site Plan of the Airfield these buildings are not specifically marked but are adjacent to what was known as Site 4.
This was where the single track railway line came to a halt at storage buildings and on looking at the photographs here this would have been on the opposite side of the large barn type building shown centrally.
Some of the buildings may have been used for decontamination or as electricity generator buildings with the large generator sitting on the floor as in the last picture.
Langford Lodge Accommodation Site 5
This is a group of buildings which were used as accommodation for personel based at Langford Lodge. They appear to have been Dormitory type buildings with the relevant number above each singular access door.
One of the buildings may have been used as a Store or Armoury as there is a sturdy metal inner door which is shown here while all the windows in the accommodation have a small catch as seen in the last picture.
This would have been used to ensure a blackout was maintained.
Langford Lodge Checkpoint
The main entrance Checkpoint for Langford Lodge was on the Largy Road adjacent to Number 37.
The lane immediately inside the Checkpoint and on the right in my photograph led to 12 Army Storage Sheds along with a Fire watcher Shed - All of these were supported by a Great Northern Railway branch line.
American civilian technicians and U.S. Army personnel attend a Roman Catholic mission conducted by Father Thomas F. Keenan of Providence, Rhode Island at the Chaplain's office at an Air Force Depot in Northern Ireland.
No specific location given however it may very well have been at Langford Lodge. Photograph taken on 29 October 1943.
(Photographs above are from Fold 3 which is available to EVERYONE below:-https://www.fold3.com/s.php#query=Northern+Ireland&preview=1&t=495)
The airfield at Maghaberry was built as a satellite to the larger Long Kesh. It was known to the United States 8th Air Force Composite Command as AAF 239 and was used by 27th Air Transport Group.
The picture above shows a bomb aimer training building in the background with the red bricked building possibly having been used to generate electricity and the foreground shows what appears to be the remains of an air raid shelter.
In June 1944 there were 1200 U.S. Airmen based at Maghaberry.
There were a number of Training Units based there as well as Shorts Aircraft Factory using the facility to test their Stirling Bombers.
Shown here is the upper level of the Bomb Aimer Training Building. This table has a hole in the centre through which the airman would practise his bomb aiming skills while looking at a plan on the lower floor. - A most interesting building.
Shown above are 3 pictures of the impressive Machine Gun Range Butts which can be seen at Maghaberry. The picture directly above has been taken in this way to show a circular concrete base which can be seen in the foreground. An imposing feature which is clearly visible.
This is an aerial photograph of Dispersed Living Quarters near Maghaberry Airfield. All that remain are a number of Nissen hut concrete based along with paths between.
Above is a plan of how the airfield looked in 1944 and thanks to S.K. Photos for the aerial photograph of the site shown below.
The remains of the Runways are clearly visible well as the hard standings top left and Machine Gun Range as shown above is top centre right near a pair of old Hangars
The two photographs above show Maghaberry Airfield after the war. It is crammed with aircraft which are to have their metal recycled. (From Britain From Above)
The two photographs above show U.S. Army Ambulances taking part in a Casualty Evacuation Rehearsal at Maghaberry in 1944. (Ulster Aviation Society Photographs)
This was a Landing Ground used at Lisburn close to R.A.F. Long Kesh. An Air Training Corps Gliding School operated there from around September 1943 however nothing now remains.
Sandy Bay had been used by the U.S. Naval Transport Service for movement back and forward to America.
As can be seen by the pictures the facilities were spartan with air traffic control being provided by the nearby R.A.F. Station at Nutts Corner. - The aircraft which used Sandy Bay included the U.S. Navy's Consolidated PB2Y Coronado which was a large 4 engined Flying Boat.
Sandy Bay was built in the shelter of Rams Island and there were a total of 12 Flying Boat moorings with rubber buoy's and Pick-Up Harness as well as a number of Marine Craft moorings for attendant vessels and refuellers.
Four Flying Boat Moorings were also located on the East of Rams Island.