The Second World War in Northern Ireland

The Second World War in Northern Ireland

County Antrim Part 2

Remembered in Rasharkin

Lieutenant R.J. Smyth was serving with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve.

He was with 842 Squadron, Fleet Air Arm on Escort Aircraft Carrier H.M.S. Campania (Shown here) when he was killed in action on 6th February 1945.

Surgeon Lieutenant Hugh Marks was serving with the Royal Navy. 

He was a Passenger on the Steamship Britannia (Shown here) travelling from Freetown to Bombay when the ship was attacked and sunk by the German Auxiliary Cruiser Thor with the loss of 122 Crew and 127 Passengers.

Home Guard Horizontal Rail Roadblocks

This is a Home Guard Roadblock which can be found at Carnlough Road, The Sheddings near Broughshane. 

Sections of Railway Line would have been fed through the holes to make the Roadblock.

The example shown here is at Lisnamurrican Road near Broughshane.

As you can see it is a considerable structure and has recently been removed from its original position and left on the opposite side of the road perhaps for destruction at a later date.

Ballymena Cemetery

As with many other Cemeteries around Northern Ireland there are a number of Military Personnel buried in Ballymena Cemetery who paid the ultimate price for their service during WW2.

One of those buried here is Private Donald Boyd of 6th Battalion The Royal Berkshire Regiment. He was only 20 years old when he died on 28th June 1940.

The bottom of his headstone has the comment “He Did His Duty. He Could Do No More”

Some of the other headstones include Gunner Henry Bell from 9th Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battalion of the Royal Artillery who was killed on 4/4/44 while Gunner Robert Cochrane was with 1 Maritime Regiment of the Royal Artillery when he died on 2nd March 1945.

Rifleman William Lorimer was serving with the London Irish when he died on 10th October 1941.

The only representative of the Royal Air Force is Sergeant Thomas Alfred Delaney who was a Wireless Operator / Air Gunner with 12 Squadron R.A.F. when he was killed on 10th January 1942.

Those who gave their lives included both women and men and Senior Commander Marjorie Wilson Anderson was with the Women’s Transport Service (First Aid Nursing Yeomanry) of the Auxilliary Territorial Service when she died on 15th November 1943.

Blackhead Radio Station

These are the couple of buildings which remain of what was once the Chain Home Low Radio Station at Blackhead.

It can be found in a field above Blackhead Lighthouse however visitors should beware that the road is very narrow and impossible for 2 vehicles to pass.

"Chain Home Low" was a radar system operated during the Second World War and used as an early warning indicator of any approaching enemy aircraft. 

As well as the two buildings which remain there appear to have been at least three further buildings of which only concrete flooring remains.

On the hill directly above is another structure which appears to be consist of 8 concrete wall sections that are in close proximity and semi-circular in shape. They can be seen in the picture above where, due to the topography of the land only 7 are visible. - I suspect this may have been used for radar equipment and hope to have more information at a later date.

Henly Gate and Prospect House, Carrickfergus

A good looking memorial which incorporates the only prorion of Henly Gate which remains.

The gate was constructed in the 1920's as a 21st Birthday Present to Gwen Henly who was the last owner of the Prospect House Estate which stood at this location.

The Memorial Stone relates to the 3rd Belgian Infantry Brigade which were known as "Rumbeke" and were one of the 5 Belgian Infantry Brigades which were trained in Northern Ireland following the liberation of Belgium in 1944.

The Rumbeke Brigade arrived in Northern Ireland in March 1945 and the 2nd Battalion were based at Prospect House for approximately six months before going to take part in the occupation of Germany.

Prospect House is sadly now boarded up and cannot be accessed.From the two photographs here is can be seen that this was once a very grand structure however not any more.

American Military Personel were also based here and in 1942 it was home to Companies A and B of the 53d Medical Battalion as well as 241st Medical Battalion of the 1st Engineer Amphibian Brigade, Detachment Company A, 60th Quartermaster Battalion (Laundry) and Company A 71st Quartermaster Battalion (Gas Supply).

2nd Infantry Brigade Yzer at Ballymena Y.M.C.A.

Shown here is a picture of a Plaque which was presented to Ballymena Y.M.C.A. by Soldiers of the Belgian Army prior to their return to Belgium in May 1945.

The wording says "As a mark of thankfulness for the so kind reception given to the Belgian Forces of the 2nd INFANTRY BRIGADE. YZER. Given by the members of R.A.S.C./ Coy May 1945"

The soldiers used to frequent the Wellington Street building from which this Plaque was rescued when the building was being demolished.

Thanks to Ed Luke for the picture and information.


Carrickfergus Local Defence Volunteers Building

Here we have a building which was used by the Local Defence Volunteers (Otherwise known as the Home Guard) in Carrickfergus.

It can be found on off Woodburn Road and consists of 3 separate buildings which are the same sturdy construction as some Airraid Shelters however, as can be seen by the first picture, windows were permitted although the design is such that the windows face a steep field.

Wooden half-doors had allowed access to the various sections and one of the wooden doors remains and is visible in the second picture.

It is pleasing to be able to say that the buildings remain in good condition.

U.S. Army Maintainance and Ordnance Supply Depot

This location was known as G-10-4 until 22nd October 1943 when it was renamed O-622.

First records show it as a Maintainance Facility from July 1942 - Which is impressive when you consider that the United States only entered the war after Pearl Harbor in December 1941.

In 1942 the personel based here included 313th Motor Transport Supply Company and Detachment 314th Ordnance depot Company. It was known as General Depot G-10-4 from 17th December 1942 and from  

October 1943 until 20th February 1944 was home to 346th Ordnance Depot Company. headquarters and Headquarters Detachment 254th Ordnance Battalion operated here from 28th February until 8th May 1944 at a time when all personel were moving to southern England for the fothcoming Invasion of Europe.

Although this looks like two buildings they are actually joined together to form one and in the picture above you can get some idea of the scale by considering that this is only half of the floorspace and a car can be seen inside.

Some of the original electrics remain and the last picture shows two small buildings on the site.

It is worth recording that the planning which went into this location included direct access to the railway network with the site being constructed directly beside a railway line to facilitate movement.

Tank Production at Carrickfergus

With the Industry in Belfast being subjected to bombing by the Germans it was necessary for the large factories to move various sections of production to other areas of Northern Ireland and this included Harland & Wolff who, as well as being involved in the production of shipping were responsible for building Churchill and Centaur Tanks!

Construction of tanks took place in a factory at Woodburn Road, Carrickfergus.

The original Harland & Wolff contract from the War Department was dated 21st December 1940 and given the number T754.

The pictures shown here are of two Centaur tanks being given a road test in County Antrim. - Thanks very much to Billy McCutcheon for the pictures which show his dad who was working on the construction of these tanks.

Mullaghglass Decoy Airfield Q Site

I find this a particularly interesting site. This is a Decoy Airfield Q Site which is on the hill above West Belfast at Flowbog Road in the townland of Mullaghglass.

A "Q Site" was a deception plan where both static and mobile false lights were used to simulate an operational airfield in the hope of confusing an enemy airraid.

I believe the men who operated in these sites were Royal Air Force personel from the local airfield which the decoy was supposed to imitate.

The construction of the building shown here is the same as another Q Site at Kearney on the Ards Peninsula. There is one entrance with a quite large room to the left in which is an escape hatch in the roof whilst the room on the right is to house an electricity generator used to operate the lighting which will hopefully confuse enemy airmen!

This has been a rather large site as there is the ruin of another building as well as a number of concrete building bases nearby and also a concrete bridge was constructed to cross a small river.

Hannahstown Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery

Here we have what remains of a Heavy Anti Aircraft Battery which can be found between Hannahstown Road and Ballycolin Road on the hill above Belfast. 

The only building which remains is a nissen hut type structure which was given   hardened concrete protection. This type of building is typical and can be seen at a number of other sites illustrated on this website.

The concrete gun pits have now gone and only a concrete base, which I believe would have been for a nissen hut, remains.

U.S. Army at Slievenagravery

Following from the H.A.A. Battery shown above it is worthy of note that on travelling down the Ballycolin Road towards Belfast you are in the townland of Slievenagravery and on the left side up a lane between some houses is is where the United States Army 187th Signal Repair Company, 15 Corps worked.

They were based here between 6th February and 25th April 1944.

The site is now used for small industry.

Searchlight Battery

These two pictures show an original building which remains at the site of a Searchlight Battery at Tullynewbank Road, Crumlin.

Portballintrae Submarine Indicator Loop

This is a very interesting piece of history which can be seen on the beach at Portballintrae.

From the main Car Park walk towards the bay which is used by surfers and on looking towards the sea this Submarine Indicator Loop will be on your left.

The system worked by having a large loop of wire lying on the sea bed. An induced current is produced in the wire when a submarine passes over it.

Resulting from the indication of the presence of a submarine, which would be identified as enemy, the usual action would be for either a ship to be sent to drop depth charges or, in some cases, loops were laid beside minefields which had their mines connected to a Mine Control Hut on shore from where the mines could be detonated manually.

The pictures here show the Indicator Loop as well as a concreted section of cliff cace up which cables were run to the Control Hut of which only the concrete base remains to be seen beside the coastal path - as shown here.

As the Second World War evolved Germany soon had control of virtually all of Western Europe other than the United Kingdom from where was a reliance on Convoys crossing the Atlantic with men and all manner of provisions and equipment.

Immediately prior to WW2 the Admiralty planned to have Submarine Indicator Loops at various sites.

I have made reference to the Loop here as well as one at Orlock Point and have been told of another such loop which may have originated in the Whitehead Area although I have no firm information.

Portballintrae Gun Position

This is a Defensive Gun position covering the Railway Line along the back of the Sand Dunes near Runkerry House at Portballintrae.

Under Sea Telephone Cables at Portballintrae

This discreet little building was a Cable Hut / Repeater Station for an undersea telephone connection with Britain during the War. It was protected by Military Personnel who were based at a nearby property. For more details see County Down Part 2 Section.

Portballintrae Firing Ranges

Travelling from Portballintrae along Bayhead Road towards the main road to Portrush you can see what were 2 Firing Ranges on the right side of the road and 2 large concrete blocks on which warning flags would have been flown when shooting was taking place.

On looking at the block in the picture above on the right you can see 5 bullet strike marks which would suggest that further training was required!!

Portrush Pillboxes

Shown here are two pillboxes which can be found in Portrush.

The two pictures above are on the single wall of what was a pillbox overlooking the Harbour in Kerr Street.

This pillbox remains in very good condition and to reach this you can walk along Causeway Street and down Strand Road to the Car Park. This pillbox is in the back garden of a private house and has been blocked up.

Portrush Memorials

There are a few of these Memorials sighted around the Portrush area with all of them being dedicated to the men of the 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division of the United States Army.

I believe these memorials have been erected by enthusiasts who have an interest in our Second World War history.

The one shown here is at Royal Portrush Golf Club and others can be found at the town's War Memorial and Cromore House as well as on the War Memorial in Portstewart in County Londonderry.


British Naval Mine at Portrush

American Red Cross Club, Portrush

The Eglinton Hotel in Portrush became an American Red Cross Club in 1943 with facilities for 150 men.

Military Mess Hall, Portrush

This building in Portrush was use as a Military Mess Hall (Canteen) during WW2. 

Radio Station at Portrush

The Royal Navy operated a D.F. (Direction Finding) Radar station which was positioned on Ramore Head in Portrush.

American Soldiers in Portrush.

Here we can see a number of American Soldiers relaxing outside Craig More in Portrush. 

This photograph was taken by Charlie Anderson of the 1st Battalion, 135th Infantry, (34th Infantry Divison)  

The photographs appear to have been taken in Mark Street.

It is not possible to find the precise location however my picture shows the small walls from which the metal railings were removed to help the War Effort and the building design appears very similar.

(Thanks very much to Selwyn Johnston for his assistance with this. The Coolsythe House picture is from "After The Battle"Magazine)

Portrush Bombing Range

Not the most exciting item to be illustrated on this website however I suspect that this is one which may be seen by many thousands of tourists without even noticing it.

To the left of the larger fencepost are the 2 wooden supports which, during the Second World War were known as "Flagstaff Number 3" at Bombing Target Number 2 of the Portrush Air gunnery and Bombing Range.

The reason why so many people may see it is because it is clearly visible from the Dunluce Road Car Park beside Dunluce Castle.

U.S. Sailors on Sightseeing Trip to Dunluce Castle

U.S. Sailors photographed whilst visiting Dunluce Castle in 1942. 

The photograph was taken by David E Scherman and is available to EVERYONE at http://images.google.com/hosted/life/

Kilwaughter Castle

The 4th Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment arrived in Northern Ireland on 20th December 1940 where they joined 148th Independent Brigade and were involved in 14 months of training.

On 18th June the 6th Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment landed at Larne and marched to Kilwaughter Castle where tents were set up in the surrounding fields. When, 4 months later on 9th October the Regiment moved to Coleraine one officer wrote "The period at Kilwaughter and Larne meant much to us ......in many ways these were the happiest days of all"

Another British Army unit which was based here was 148 Indipendent Reconnaissance Squadron which later became 49th West Riding was at Kilwaughter in 1942 / 1943.

As well as British soldiers the 644th Tank Destroyer Battalion of the United States Army were billeted at Kilwaughter Castle between 21st January and 29th April 1944 and it was operated by the Americans as Quartermaster Depot 111L.


Kilwaughter Village Hall

The Plaque shown here can be seen on the wall of Kilwaughter Village Hall.

Islandmagee Battery Gunnery Range.

Shown here is what remains of a Royal Navy Battery Gunnery Range. The top picture is looking along the Firing Line and in the distance is the concrete base as shown.

On looking around I could see the remains of 4 mountings for guns which are in two types as illustrated here. There are also what was a small toilet block and ammunition store nearby.

This Battery was used by Merchant Navy, soldiers and Marines from Armed Merchant Ships who carried out practice firing with 4.7 (120mm) QF and 12-pdr QF guns.

Naval Gunnery Practice Off Larne

The above photograph shows the C4 Escort Group led by the Canadian Destroyer H.M.C.S. Restigouche forming up for an Exercise off Larne.

This is a Gunnery Exercise with the ships firing their guns at a Target which is being towed by a Motor Launch.

The Target is wooden and designed to look like the Conning Tower of a Submarine. In this picture it is H.M.C.S. Collingwood firing at the towed target. (All of the four photographs shown above are from the Imperial War Museum and available to Everyone.)

At the end of this Exercise ships are shown lying at anchor off Larne. (I.W.M. Photograph)

Carncastle Chain Home Radar Station

This is an interesting Chain Home station on the hill between Carncastle and Glenarm. The larger of the two buildings on the site shows that an attempt has been made to disguise it as a house by inclusion of an angled roof incorporating chimney!

Cloughmills Soldier Remembered

Sergeant William Joseph Douglas, 2720741, was serving with 3rd Battalion of the Irish Guards when he was Killed in Action during what was referred to as the Breakout from the Normandy. He is buried in St Charles De Percy War Cemetery southwest of the city of Caen.

Lissanoure Castle, Loughguile

The estate was requisitioned by the British Army in 1941 after which a major Fuel Depot was established at the site.

In 1943, although it had been requisitioned by the Army, the Estate was purchased from the Macartney family by the Mackie Family. 

Having experience in producing machinery for the Textile Industry the Mackie factory changed to the production of Bofors Gun Shells as well as fusilage for Short Stirling Bomber Aircraft during the years of the war.

When the United States entered the war U.S. Soldiers were billeted at the Castle and used the grounds for training purposes until they left in 1944 from which time it was used by the british Army as a Prisoner Of War Camp to hold the German Submariners who had arrived at Lisahally.

Paddy the Pigeon in Carnlough

This great looking Memorial can be seen on the Harbour Wall in Carnlough. - Well worth a look.

Cushendun Pillbox

Having been battered by the sea for many years this is what remains of a Pillbox at Cushendun Beach. 

(Thanks very much to Chris and John for this picture)

Red Hall, Whitehead

The South Notts Hussars were based here for a time in 1941 and it was also home to some of the 3rd Infantry Brigade of the Belgian Army who were situated in various locations in the Whitehead, Ballycarry, Carrickfergus and Larne areas with their Headquarters at Whiteabbey.

There are a few concrete bases for Nissen Huts as well as the artwork which is shown below.

These photographs show some Artwork which has been left by Soldiers who were billeted in Red Hall Mill.

On the left are the flags of France, United Kingdom, Belgium and the United States. This is on the left side of a gable wall with a similar design painted on the right side as shown in the middle photograph. To the right is a single white star in a blue pennant design. - (All of the photographs here are from the excellent Mancaveblog by Nick which can be seen at http://mancaveblog.co.uk/?p=510)

The first photograph in this row shows a Shamrock.
Although the Shamrock is connected to the Island of Ireland i suggest that in this particular case the Shamrock may refer to 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th or indeed 6th Infantry Brigade of the Belgian Army as all of these Brigades had the Shamrock included on their Insignia and all were based in Northern Ireland during the second World War.
The centre picture shows the single white star and on the right is the second of the flags paintings which differs from the one shown above.
Please Note That This Mill is Privately Owned and should NOT be accessed.  (All of the photographs here are from the excellent Mancaveblog by Nick which can be seen at http://mancaveblog.co.uk/?p=510)

Lisburn

The old Forthill House and grounds, which is now Forthill Primary School was used as an Army Camp with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers being one of the first Regiments based there.

Where Knockmore Industrial Estate now stands had been Royal Engineers Workshops and Friends School at Magheralave Road was used as a Military Hospital.

These women worked at the Altona Factory, which was part of the Short Brothers Production effort and within what is now the Knockmore Industrial Estate. They are being shown a Stirling Bomber at Shorts Factory in Belfast.

(From Belfast Telegraph)

Magheralave House, Lisburn

In 1938 the War Office purchased Magheralave House and its extensive Estate for the site of the new Headquarters Northern Ireland to replace Victoria Barracks in Belfast.

Staff Sergeant-Major Twist of the A.T.S. embraces and kisses her husband, Lance-Bombardier Twist at Army Headquarters Lisburn, 22 October 1941.

The site was later to become Thiepval Barracks and remains so today. (Imperial War Museum Photograph)



Cairndhu House, Larne

Cairndhu House was used as a base by 3 Infantry Brigade "Rumbeke" of the Belgian Army.

It had also been operated as Training location for members of the Royal Ulster Rifles in the use of Bren Gun Carriers.

Glenavy Church Graveyard

The wording on the gravestone of Flight Lieutenant Philip Leslie (Peter) Billing makes reference to the famous speech by Winston Churchill when he spoke of "The Few".

Billing was the pilot of Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk.V P5041 of No.502 Squadron, RAF which had taken off from R.A.F. Aldergrove on Convoy Escort Duties. Sadly the crew became lost in bad weather and flew too far east resulting in the aircraft crashing into high ground above Balmavicar on the Mull of Kintyre on the 23rd January 1941 resulting in the deaths of all 5 crewmen on board.

Clogrennan House, Larne

Clogrennan House at Andrew Avenue in Larne was a War Hospital Supply Depot where Ulster Gift Fund Women Volunteers assisted the War Effort by producing supplies.

(Thanks to Isabel Apsley for this Information).

For a list of other War Hospital Supply Depot locations throughout Northern Ireland please go to "Information Other Part 3" of this website.

Carnfunnock Country Park

Immediately beside Cairndhu House is what is now known as Carnfunnock Country Park which has a very interesting wartime history.

At the start of the Second World War in September 1939 the owners of the property, Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon organised a canteen at Larne Harbour.

The walled garden at Carnfunnock was used to grow vegetables and Lady Dixon gave one of her Rolls Royce cars, which had been converted into an Ambulance, to Larne A.R.P.

R.E.M.E. Soldiers were based at Carnfunnock and housed in nissen huts.

German Prisoners Of War were brought in to work in the old quarry between the lime kilns and they constructed a firing range which was used by the British soldiers for training purposes. The Guide Book for the park also states that "The remnants of barbed wire circling around groups of trees can still be found in the park as these areas were intended for fencing off prisoners"