The Second World War in Northern Ireland

The Second World War in Northern Ireland

County Armagh Part 1

River Bann Defence Line

These soldiers of the Royal Berkshire Regiment are shown with their 4.5 inch Howitzer as part of the River Bann Defence Line.

The photograph was taken in May 1941. (From Private Collection)

The 2 pillboxes shown above can be found overlooking the River Bann on the Portadown to Gilford Road where they were constructed as part of a major defence line in the event of a German invasion via the neutral Republic of Ireland.

The top one is at Moyallen with the lower one being at Drumlyn House. Both are in very good condition.

Prisoner of War Camp, Portadown

There was a Prisoner Of War camp located in the Brownstown area of Portadown which has since been demolished.

Portadown Pillbox

This pillbox can be found on the Tandragee Road in Portadown and may be what was known as a Type 28 Pillbox.

It is pleasing to see that it is being maintained and that the local Council appear to have taken an interest incorporating a notice explaining its purpose.

Seagoe Church of Ireland Churchyard, Portadown.

This is the headstone of Sergeant / Air Gunner Henry Howard Maginn who was serving with 15 Squadron, Royal Air Force.

On the night of 10th / 11th September 1942 he was a Crew Member on Short Stirling BF347, LS-J on a bombing mission to Dusseldorf.

The aircraft had taken off from Bourn in Cambridgeshire at 21.05 as part of a force of 479 aircraft.

The raid was a success with 39 Industrial companies in Dusseldorf and 13 in nearby Neuss being damaged to such an extent that production was stopped for some time.


R.A.F. losses were considerable with 33 Aircraft lost with the deaths of 60 Crewmen.


The Stirling in which Sergeant Maginn was flying was attacked and damaged by Night Fighters and when an Emergency Landing was attempted at R.A.F. West Malling in Kent the aircraft crashed killing all on board.


The photograph of Stirling LS-J was taken from another aircraft.

(For more information visit the excellent Aircrew Remembered website at http://www.aircrewremembered.com/bannister-harry.html )

Portadown Railway Pillbox

This Pillbox is in super condition.

The inside  including the table on which a gun would have been positioned at a loophole which faces the railway line.

The photograph top right shows how well it blends into the countryside and is difficult to see.

The Argory

The Argory is now a rather impressive National Trust property in northern County Armagh however for a time in 1943 / 1944 this was home to 654th Tank Destroyer Battalion of the United States Army who sailed from Brooklyn, New York on board the Queen Mary and arrived in the Clyde before making the short trip across to Larne and then my train to Moy.

The U.S. 5th Army had previously used the Camp before departing for the invasion of Italy and a detachment of men from 10th Infantry 5th Infantry Division under Lieutenant Huie prepared both The Argory and Derrygally House for the arrival of 654th Battalion on 20th October 1943.

The signs shown here remains in the old Coach House of The Argory which is now a bookshop. This building had been used as a storeroom by the Military and the top picture says "Notice. On completion of training please return your stores to their respective positions Neat and Tidy. It is just as easy to do a thing right as to do it wrong so give Mr Right a Big hand"

There are then positions for number 3, 7, 8 and 9 Platoons as well as Company Headquarters.

It is very pleasing to confirm that this artwork has been preserved.

Derrygally House

This was a camp for 654 Tank Destroyer Battalion of the United States Army.

Officers stayed in the House while the men lived in nissen huts in the grounds. The Command Post was established in the Servants Quarters in the courtyard of the House. Some concrete bases of these huts remain to be seen.

A water pumping station, complete with water tank marked "Dungannon Railway Station" (Shown Below) can be seen near the river over which once stood a bridge to allow passage from Derrygally House to The Argory on the other side.

The garages at the House were built by the U.S. Army and inside is a selection of pigeon holes and notice board for various orders.

Vehicles were kept under the visual cover of trees on a nearby hill to prevent them being seen by any enemy aircraft.

A vehicle inspection pit was created close to the road where nissen huts had also been. 

Shown above is "Black Panther" cut into a tree neat the pump house by one of the G.I's however a little exploration found some more carving!

Some is difficult to make out after all these years but the most distinguishable is shown here. - CAM GARNER.

General Patton in Armagh

The officer sitting in the back of the Jeep above is Major General Walter Robertson of the 2nd Infantry Division. (Black and white pictures from After The Battle, Home Away From Home and  http://www.eucmh.com)

A few days later on 3rd April 1944 Patton inspected Derrygally House and complimented Colonel Martz on the appearance of the camp and battle readiness of the men.

On 1st April 1944 at 10am soldiers of the U.S. 2nd Infanrty Division along with various other Units were formed up in The Mall in Armagh to be inspected by General Patton.

General Patton taking a salute and being driven past American Soldiers on parade on The Mall in Armagh.  (Black and white pictures from After The Battle, Home Away From Home and  http://www.eucmh.com)

General Patton speaking to American soldiers on The Mall in Armagh.  (Many thanks to Sheriff Johnston)

Drumcairn Mill, Armagh

The impressive Drumcairn Mill can be seen on Loughgall Road, Armagh. 

It was used by the following Units of the United States Army.

Between October 1943 and 11th April 1944 by 2nd Quartermaster Company, 2nd Infantry Division who were accompanied by the 2nd Signal Company, 2nd Infantry Division between October 1943 and 11th January 1944.

Belgian Soldiers at Armagh Roman Catholic Cathedral

Belgian Soldiers on parade at the Roman Catholic Cathedral in the City of Armagh on 21st July 1945 and inside the Cathedral. 

(Many thanks to http://www.maisondusouvenir.be. For more information please visit this excellent website.)

Gough Barracks, Armagh

Gough Barracks in Armagh was the Depot of the Royal Irish Fusiliers and is now used by the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

The War department markings shown here can be seen on the perimeter wall of the barracks in Victoria Street and I believe these may relate to the location of protective sangars constructed into the walls.

Iron For The War Effort, Armagh

As you walk around the cities and towns of Northern Ireland you may have noticed that there are a number of the older buildings which have had their perimeter fences removed.


The typical sign is a small wall left with the fence having been removed from the top.


The Government had asked for metal items to be gathered together to assist in production of items for the war effort and the civilian population helped by providing a huge amount of items such as pots, pans, beds and even perimeter fencing.


This particular example can be seen in the centre of Armagh.


Kircassock House Gate Lodge

During the Second World War Kircassock House became Headquarters of 8th United States Air Force Composite Command from November 1942 including 496th Fighter Training Group.

It is believed that both Winston Churchill and General Eisenhower stayed at the House when visiting Personnel in Northern Ireland.

Fortunately many of the American Personnel who were on Guard Duty at the Gate Lodge found time to carve their names and home Cities/States into the brickwork.

Above left is "Guy Saville. Baltimore Maryland and Romney West Virginia 18th May 1944" with "March 1944 Laurel Franklin. Kingsley, Iowa" on the right. - I believe Laurel Franklin survived the war and was married with four children. He died in February 2011 at Trinity in Florida.

Here we have "Neal Roelofsen. Harris, Iowa U.S.A. March 30th 1944" on the left and "Harold Kavalier. Dysart, Iowa U.S.A. 4-1-44" on the right. I believe that Neal Roelofsen lived through the war and received an Honorable Discharge however he was 91 years old when he died on 28th March 2008.

 "Private Henry Povolny, Chicago, Illinois 1944" is shown on the right.

Geoffrey Petereson is easy to read however some of the other brickwork is considerably less legible as I guess almost 70 years of Northern Ireland weather has taken its toll.

"Cheelsman Baltimore, Maryland 5/18/44" (Left) has the first couple of letters on the wooden frame and these have become erased over the years.

Along with the names there are also "Red Diamond" - which would refer to the United States Army 5th Infantry Division (Mechanised)

and simply the names of various places including Agusta Georgia, Mason City Iowa and New Jersey.

Above seems to say "Pvt K. Potter. Born 1922 Barton Maryland" but is hard to identify.

Another brick where I cannot identify the individual identifies him as a Private First Class with his name ending in Jr. for "Junior" and this man comes from a place called "Moonshiners Ridge, West Virginia"

My favourite is shown below!

Sadly the wording here is again fading with the passage of time however the writing here says "15 Years Now a Buck Ass Private" and appears to have been written by Mr. K. Porter from Barton, Maryland.


As the American Forces left to travel to Southern England before embarking on the invasion of Europe they were replaced at Kircassock House by Belgian soldiers - One of whom left his mark on the same wall "Paquet Belge 6/15/45".

Kircassock House, Magheralin

Virtually unrecognisable now this is the site of what had once been the very grand Kircassock House. Only the clocktower in the courtyard gives a clue as to where the house had stood. (Old picture from "After The Battle" Magazine)

This picture shows Brigadier General Edmund W. Hill,Commanding General of the U.S. Forces in Northern Ireland, presenting the Distinguished Flying Cross to Technical Sergeant Michael Kruge at Kircassock House on 4th August 1943.


Visitors were Bob Hope the Comedian and Dorothy Lamour who was an American Film Actress along with William Bendix an American Film Actor who were visiting Northern Ireland to entertain American Military Personnel.

From 7th December 1942 until 12th March 1944 Kircassock House was used by 401st Provisional Station Gas Defense Attachment U.S. Army and they were joined on 15th May 1943 by 401st Signal Company Aviation but without the Radio Intelligence Platoon. From 1st March 1944 until 25th May 1944 it was Headquarters to 15 Corps U.S. Army and from14th March 1944 Kircassock House was also used by 2d Platoon 506th Quartermaster Car Company of the U.S. Army.


Shown on the left is a large Water Tower which still remains as it was in the Camp during the 1940's.


Staff Sergeant William Armstrong from Cumnor, Virginia, U.S. Army Mail Clerk sorting the mail into pouches at the Distribution Centre, U.S. Army Post Office 639 at Kircassock House on 10th August 1943.

American Soldiers and Sailors with their invited guests enjoy a dance during a party at Kircassock House on 25th April 1943.

(All of the Black and White photographs here are from Fold 3 and are available to EVERYONE)

Private First Class Charles Furman Blanton, Magheralin

The final resting place of Private First Class Charles Furman Blanton, a United States Army Second World War veteran can be found in the Churchyard in the centre of Magheralin.

This photograph shows Charles Blanton with his Wife and baby Alva.

The shoulder patch worn by P.F.C. Blanton is 2nd Corps, United States Army.

(Thanks very much to Roger Edmondson and Clive Higginson for their assistance with this).

Gosford Castle, Markethill

This is the impressive Gosford Castle at Markethill.

These grand surroundings were, for a time, home to the United States 15th Field Artillery Battalion Headquarters and officers quarters.

Royal Artillery and Pioneer Corps soldiers were also based in the grounds on various occasions.

The grounds of the Castle were used as a Prisoner Of War Camp (P.O.W. Camp 10) and shown here is what remains of a windmill (Shown above) which was constructed by German Prisoners of War.

The small metal section to which the sails had been attached remains to be seen however the sails are long gone.

On walking from the car park towards the castle there are a few concrete bases of nissen huts under the trees however, other than a brief section of concrete path nothing else remains.