The Second World War in Northern Ireland

The Second World War in Northern Ireland

County Down Part 2

Bangor Main Street, Castle and Town Hall

The pictures above shows Main Street, Bangor with 2 Airraid Shelters that have been constructed in the centre of the roadway. Then we have some drill taking place on the lawn of the Town Hall (Castle)and finally the site of a hut which was constructed beside the main entrance of the Town hall.

Lieutenant Simon D. St.L Fleming was part of the Clanmorris family who resided in the Castle and was born in Bangor Castle and joined the Royal Artillery in 1939. After serving with the Eighth Army in North Africa he was wounded in 1942 and a year later was seconded to the Long Range Desert Group.He was Killed in Action on 16th June 1944 and is buried in the British Divisional Cemetery at Fiora in Italy.

(Thanks very much to North Down Museum for their assistance with the pictures.)

Air Raid Shelter, Adair's Lane, Bangor

The Air Raid Shelter shown here is in Adair's Lane, Bangor. 

It is the same design as the one shown below at Ballyvester, Donaghadee and is well maintained by the Owner.

There is another Shelter of this type at Crawfordsburn.

Dufferin Hall, Bangor

Dufferin Hall was used during the War as a Billet for Soldiers.

The 6th Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers where here prior to the Invasion of North Africa and I believe that a Welsh Regiment may also have been here for a time.

Air Raid Shelter, Conlig

The Air Raid Shelter shown here was constructed for the occupants of a house on Main Street, Conlig.

It can be seen from Henderson Avenue and as can be seen from the Adair's Lane example is typical of what was constructed. - For added protection the building could have been covered with earth.

This Air Raid Shelter is incredibly strong. - Each wall has inner and outer red bricks between which are reinforced concrete and the Roof was laid where it was able to harden into position making this Very strong!

Bangor Intermediate School

This photograph shows 25th Brigade General Hospital Sergeants Mess at what was called Bangor Intermediate School (Later to become Bangor Academy)


Ward Park, Bangor
This Plaque gives recognition to the Civilians who were killed as a result of Luftwaffe Raids on Bangor as well as others who have died in later conflicts.
Royal Hotel, Bangor

The top three floors of the Royal Hotel in Bangor was used by the Royal Navy for Port Control of Belfast Lough under Commander Kirkpatrick.

From 1942 he was joined by Commander Keane from United States Navy.

Eisenhower Pier, Bangor

General Eisenhower photographed on board U.S.S. Quincy in Belfast Lough.

As part of the build-up of Allied forces for the Invasion of Occupied Europe the town of Bangor played its part.

General Eisenhower made his temporary Headquarters at the Hotel facing what is now known as "Eisenhower Pier" in Bangor.

Shown above left is General Eisenhower taken on 19th May 1944 on board USS Tuscaloosa in Belfast Lough. He is seen addressing the ships Officers and Men whilst on the right he is on board USS Quincy. Both ships were in Belfast Lough off Bangor. (Quincy picture from "After The Battle")


Sitting in Belfast Lough were the United States Battleships USS Arkansas, USS Nevada, USS Texas with the Cruisers USS Quincy and USS Tuscaloosa. They were accompanied by a huge number of other ships of all types. (National Archives pictures)

Shown below are the Nevada and Texas on 14th May 1944.

(From http://www.history.navy.mil which is available to everyone)

To the left is a painting called "Task Force 129" by local Artist David Pentland.

It shows USS Nevada with USS Quincy along with HMS Glasgow being assembled in Belfast Lough on 14th May 1944 in preparation for D-Day.

Belfast Lough in 1944 with U.S.S. Arkansas on the left and U.S.S. Texas to the right.

U.S.S. Arkansas. (From World War Photos)

USS Texas is shown with Vought OS2U Kingfisher aircraft on the catapult. The aircraft and catapult were off loaded in Belfast prior to Operation Overlord and the invasion of Normandy.

Shown here are U.S.S. Satterlee along with two other Destroyers photographed in Belfast Lough on 14th May 1944 with County Antrim in the background.

(Photographs from National Archives which is available to EVERYONE)

Treatment For An Injured Pilot in Bangor Bay

One day the wife of Doctor Frank Reynolds answered a knock to the door to see two United States Naval Officers.
They asked for Doctor Reynolds to come aboard one of the large American warships as a Naval Aviator had been injured as the result of a crash in Bangor Bay.
Doctor Reynolds subsequently administered his Medical expertise and returned home thinking that this was the end of the matter.
On the contrary, the following day both Doctor Reynolds and his Wife received an invitation to join the Captain on board the ship and after being collected by car they were brought to Bangor Pier and taken by a small Launch out to the ship for Dinner with the Captain!

Incidentally Doctor Frank Reynolds had attended Queens University with Blair Mayne and was a personal friend of the man who was to become "Colonel Paddy"
(Thanks very much to Frank Reynolds for permitting me to share this information)

Clark Gable in Victoria Road, Bangor

On 19th May 1944 Captain Clark Gable and his friend Capt. Lee Mahin arrived in Bangor under the guise of being on two weeks leave after which they would returning to their USAAF base in England. 

However all was not as it seemed as Clark Gable had been tasked by the Pentagon to film and record the arrival and departure of Allied Task Force 129 in Bangor Bay and then the D-Day landings which would soon follow.

He was then to return to the United States and edit the film prior to his army discharge. 

The two Officers arrived at the American Red Cross Club at Princetown Road where they met Jean McDowell who ran a Guest House at number 6 Victoria Road, Bangor.

Jean was a former Nurse and suggested to the two that they might like to stay at her Guest House as it overlooked the Bay with all the ships at anchor.

Clark Gable stayed for an unspecified number of days at 6 Victoria Road however it is not known if Mrs McDowell had recognised the Hollywood Movie Star in her Guest House.

After his discharge from Military Service Gable wrote a personal letter to Miss McDowell and thanked her for her kindness to both him and his friend John Lee Mahin. 

He enclosed a signed photo of himself and invited Mrs McDowell to spend a holiday at his ranch in California!

The  letter and signed photograph was framed by Mrs McDowell and hung on her living room wall until her death in 1972.

The House is shown here and as can be seen from my photograph above there was an excellent view of all of the shipping in Bangor Bay. (Combat America & U.S. Treasury Poster. Thanks very much to Doreen Hamilton for the information and the Bangor Through The Years Facebook Page for their Help)

5 Seacourt Lane, Bangor
The very grand house is 5 Seacourt, Bangor  

In 1895 Samuel Cleland Davidson, the founder of the Sirocco Engineering Works, bought the house and 18 acre grounds. On his death, the house passed to his youngest daughter Mrs Hadow.

During the Second World War, Mrs Hadow arranged for the house to be used as a convalescent home for officers, receiving about 250 patients. Mrs Hadow was later awarded the MBE for her services.

(Information an picture from Property News)

Bryansburn Road / Maxwell Road Bangor

This comparrison picture is taken at a slightly different angle however you can see the same house on the right side of the picture and even the same tree in full bloom!

S.S. Troutpool sinking and German Condor Aircraft Crash
On 20th July 1940 at shortly after 2pm the Steam Ship "Troutpool" was at the entrance to Bangor Harbour.

The ship was owned by Pool Shipping Co Ltd of Hartlepool and was carrying a cargo of 7,908 tons of grain from Argentina. She had put into port for degaussing in an attempt to prevent the activation of electronically operated mines. When this had been dome the ship started its engines when it activated a magnetic mine.

This mine had been dropped previously by a long range Focke Wulf German Focke-Wulf Condor aircraft from 1st Staffelhof Kampfgeschwader 40. It had flown from Bordeau via Brest to belfast Lough for its Mine Laying Mission.

Some of the crew survived and were rescued by the "White Heather" which now serves as a pleasure craft from the same harbour however unfortunately 11 crewmen were killed.

The Condor aircraft headed towards Islandmagee and dropped some more mines however another remained in the racks and while flying at low level attempting to free this mine the Condor was sighted by gunners at Grey Point Fort.

Both left engines of the aircraft failed and the Condor crashed into the sea with 2 of the crew of 5 being lost and their bodies never recovered.

Two of the crewmen of the Troutpool - Thomas Beckett and Shief Ahmed are buried at Bangor New Cemetry with 3 other unidentified sailors from the same incident buried in one grave at Movilla Cemetry in Newtownards.

The remains of the ship now lie in 15m depth of water at the entrance to Bangor Harbour off what is known as Eisenhower Pier.

Ballyholme Beach, Bangor

Shown above are two photographs showing Ballyholme Beach, Bangor.

As can be seen in the section on Eisenhower Pier Belfast Lough was filled with all types of naval shipping in the build-up to D-Day and throughout this time training continued. (From "From Belfast Lough To D-Day" book)

These pictures show a Landing Craft exercise on Ballyholme Beach.

This is an American LST (Landing Ship Tank) on Ballyholme beach during the exercise.

The Ballyholme area had a considerable military presence with the old "Caproni's" Ballroom, which stood facing Ballyholme Yacht Club where the appartments currently stand, having seen Glenn Miller play! American personel were billeted on the nearby tennis courts and putting green while the "Hotel Pickie" in Princetown Avenue in Bangor was used at an Officers Club by the U.S. Army.

(Many thanks to http://www.navsource.org)

Grey Point Fort, Crawfordsburn

This is Grey Point Fort which is at The Fort, Helens Bay and can be visited for free. It is also easily accessable from Crawfordsburn Country Park.

The fort consists of a number of buildings including Ammunition Magazine, Gun Batteries, Shelters, Obsetvation Post, Fire Command, Radar Platform and 3 searchlight emplacements.

This is the Master Gunners Store in which 2 Field Guns were kept.

During the Second World War the Fort was used to protect Belfast Lough and as part of this role when any ship entered Belfast Lough it was contacted by Coastal Defence Personnel and asked to identify itself.

If there was no reply it was told "Heave to or be sunk" and if there was still no suitable response then a shell would have been fired across the ships bow as a final warning before opening fire with explosive shells.

Shown here is one of the 3 Searchlight Emplacements as well as a War Department Boundary Stone which marks the boundary of the Fort. The markings read "W.D. (War Department) No 1 To H.W.M. (High Water Mark) in line with B.S. (Boundary Stones) 1 & 2"

N.A.A.F.I. and American Red Cross Club in Bangor
The Navy, Army and Air Force Institute (N.A.A.F.I.) had premises at both Balloo House, Rathgael and 10 High Street, Bangor. 

Shown here is the High Street building as well as the Pickie Hotel which was used by the American Red Cross.

(Information from ww2 Telephone Book and Hotel Pickie picture from Bangor through the years facebook page)

Bangor Central Primary School

This school was used as Military Hospital during the war although I am aware of nothing that remains today to illustrate its involvement.

Personel who worked in the Hospital were billited at the Pickie and Strand Hotels and the Pickie Hotel became home to the American Red Cross Club.

Orlock Point Searchlight Position

Orlock is on the coastal road from Groomsport towards Donaghadee and was home to one of the Coastal Defence Batteries along with Grey Point, East Twin Island (In Belfast) and Kilroot (See County Antrim section.)

As time has passed some of the buildings have gone with some being converted into private dwellings however this Searchlight Position can be found by anyone using the Coastal Path which is open to the public.

Groomsport Harbour
Here we can see the remains of old Air Raid Shelters which were positioned as a sea defence the same as was done in nearby Ballyholme.

Groomsport Gun Battery

I was carrying out research for this website when I located a piece of military architecture from slightly more recent times.

One of a number of Heavy Anti-Aircraft Batteries built around Northern Ireland was situated near Groomsport at Ballymacormick Point.

On visiting the site 3 Gun Emplacements can be located however they were heavily overgrown on my visit.

This H.A.A. Battery was known as "B.A.2".

All three are located to the right of the tree in this picture which was taken with an old Royal Observer Corps bunker in the foreground.

Ballyvester, Donaghadee

Probably one of the best known Pillboxes in Northern Ireland.

When travelling down the eastern side of the Ards Peninsula you should start at Donaghadee.

A short distance along the main road in the direction of Millisle is the townland of Ballyvester. On looking to your right at the Car Park you will see the pillbox shown here sitting on top of the hill.

A second example of Second World war architecture is the Air Raid Shelter at the nearby Ballyvester Road T junction and shown here.

This pillbox is in a nearby field and is in very good condition. Both these types appear to have flagstones as frontage and rather than facing the shore as you would expect they are both facing inland.

This Pillbox still has the original door.

Under Sea Cable at Ballyvester

During the Easter Tuesday Air Raid on Belfast a parachute Mine fell at the junction of Oxford Street and East Bridge Street causing considerable damage to the Central Telephone Exchange and destroying numerous telephone cables.

One of the effects of this was that contact was lost between local Anti-Aircraft Command Headquarters and Royal Air Force Fighter Control in Lancashire.

The telephone link passed under the Cable Hut / Repeater Station shown in these pictures.

The old Cable Hut has now been replaced by a private dwelling.

During the war this building was protected by Home Guard personnel who were billeted nearby.

(Thanks very much to Mr George Busby for these pictures)

Royal Air Force Greystone

This is a Chain Home station between Ballywalter and Millisle which was part of the extensive system which covered the United Kingdom. 

It was a basic radar system which could determine distance and direction of incoming aircraft formations, giving rise to its initial name of RDF (Radio Direction Finding).

These stations were able to measure the elevation of the formation, which knowing the range gave the height.

The old photograph top left shows one of the two Chain Home Transmitter Buildings (One being a Stand-by) which were constructed south of the larger building (Main Picture) Both of these have now been demolished. (Thanks to Edward Boyle for the picture)

Signals were sent from wires and the Chain Home stations were arranged around the British coast and were first tested in 1940 during the Battle of Britain.

This Chain Home station can be found at Ganaway Road, Millisle where it is in the field beside a caravan park. - It was known to the R.A.F. Personnel who worked there as R.A.F. Greystone.

The buildings shown in the final two photographs are on the opposite side of the road from the large building and would have been used by the Personnel who were operating the Chain Home System.

Lieutenant Colonel Robert Blair "Paddy" Mayne

Robert Blair Mayne was one of the greatest soldiers of the Second World War and a founding member of the Special Air Service.

He was born on 11th January 1915 at the family home, "Mount Pleasant" in Newtownards, County Down, Northern Ireland.

After attending Regent House Grammar School (Which is shown below) he went to Queens University, Belfast where he read Law before qualifying as a Solicitor and joining McLaine And Sons Solicitors in Belfast.

Blair was an excellent sportsman and when at Queens became the Irish Universities Boxing Champion. He was also a Rugby player with 6 caps for Ireland and 1938 he was chosen for the British Lions tour of South Africa.

In February 1939 Blair was commissioned as a Second-Lieutenant in the 5 Light Anti-Aircraft Battery at Movilla Road Camp in Newtownards and when war was declared on 3rd September 1939 the regiment was dispatched to North Africa however Blair remained and moved through a number of Regiments such as the Royal Ulster Rifles, The Cameronians and then the 11th (Scottish) Commando.

In January 1941 the Commando was part of "Layforce" and headed to the Middle East under the command of Brigadier Laycock. It was during the Litani River Raid in Lebanon that Blair was "Mentioned in Dispatches" for his actions in leading his men against Vichy French Forces. The raid had resulted in approx 130 soldiers being killed. This equated to around one third of the Commando.

A Scots Guard officer, Captain David Stirling, had meanwhile proposed a small highly trained Unit of men who were to operate behind enemy lines. After facing much opposition from the High Command Stirling was finally able to present his idea to the Commander In Chief. Stirling won the day and was permitted to form a Unit of 60 men. Having heard of Paddy's actions at Litani River Stirling recruited him into his new Unit.

These men were to be known as L Detachment Special Air Service.

L Detachment's first raid resulted in failure however things improved when they teamed up with the Long Range Desert Group and the "Colonel Paddy" legend began on 8th December 1941 with attacks on Tamet and Sirte.

Mayne along with 7 soldiers attacked and destroyed about 25 enemy aircraft on the ground as well as fuel and ammunition dumps. This action resulted in him being awarded his first Distinguished Service Order.

He returned to Tamet with 5 men on 27th December 1941 and destroyed a further 27 aircraft and other vehicles. Having used all his explosives he was seen to destroy some of the aircraft with his bare hands by ripping out the electrical equipment from the cockpits!!

Following this action he was promoted to Second In Charge of L Detachment S.A.S.

In early July 1942 L Detachment had been equipped with Willys Jeeps which were fitted with Vickers K machine guns and the first jeep raid took place on Kufra. Further such raids took place resulting in numerous enemy aircraft being destroyed on the ground at places like El Daba, Fuka and Sidi Haneish.

L Detachment became the 1st Special Air Service Regiment on 21st September 1942 and following David Sterling's capture at the start of the year Robert Blair Mayne became Lieutenant Colonel Mayne in charge of the Special Air Service.

On 10th - 11th July 1943 Blair Mayne led his men to Sicily where they landed at Capo Murro Di Porco capturing 2 gun positions and hundreds of Italian soldiers. The action continued the following day with a landing at Augusta where the town was soon captured and Blair Mayne received the 1st bar to his D.S.O.

On 9th - 10th August 1944 Blair parachuted into France behind enemy lines. He was operating for a few days before driving back through the lines at Normandy and returned to England. With the recce completed he was again parachured into France on 19th August with the drop-zone near Orleans. With 20 air dropped Jeeps he pushed back and forward through enemy lines using the vehicle mounted machine guns to kill numerous German soldiers.

For these actions he was awarded the second Bar to his Distinguished Service Order.

On 10th April 1945 1st S.A.S. were involved in "Operation Howard" and near the village of Borgerwald the Special Air Service men were ambushed resulting in their Commanding Officer being killed.  Blair took over and manned the guns on their jeep. With an officer driving they made several attachs up and down the road firing the guns until he was able to rescue the wounded and recover the dead. Blair's actions resulted in a German retreat!!

For his amazing actions Blair Mayne was recommended for a Victoria Cross, the highest military honour, however he was to receive a 3rd Bar to his Distinguished Service Order.

As with other "Special Forces" Soldiers Blair Mayne had difficulty adjusting to life after the war. This was not helped by the back pain he suffered from connected to parachute drops. He went to the Falkland Islands with Lord Hunt's expedition of 1945 however continuing pain forced his return to Northern Ireland.

Sadly "Colonel Paddy" was killed in a road traffic accident whilst driving the red Riley car he referred to as his "Big Red Fire Engine". The accident took place at Mill Street, Newtownards where his car struck a telegraph pole.

The mural shown above. is dedicated to the memory of "Colonel Paddy" and can be seen at the junction of Queen Street and Upper Movilla Street in Newtownards. (Picture from alchetron.com)

Blair's funeral was on 16th December 1955 and took place with thousands of mourners. He is buried at Movilla Cemetry, Newtownards in the family plot while there is a full size bronze statue of Paddy in the heart of the town of Newtownards directly outside the Town Hall at Conway Square.

To find the final resting place of "Colonel Paddy" on entering the main gate of Movilla Cemetry make your way immediately left to the ruin of the old Abbey and the plot is only a few yards in front of you!

The Mayne Family Home "Mount Pleasant" was gutted by fire some years ago however it has now been completely renovated and as well as a Blue Plaque on the house the plaque shown above is on the gate pillars of the Driveway to Mount Pleasant.

A nearby road has also been named in his memory.

Polish Airmen buried in Newtownards

Shown above are the gravestones of  W.E.Heller, H Komenda and H.A. Flechter.

Wing Commander Heller was navigator in an Avro Anson which was being flown from the General Reconnaissance School at R.A.F. Squires Gate on a navigation exercise however unfortunately the aircraft was lost in low cloud and crashed killing Heller.

All I know of Kpl H. Komenda is that he was a member of 256 Squadron, Royal Air Force and was killed on 9th July 1942 at the age of 22.

Sergeant W.E. Flegler was a pilot with 315 City of Deblin Squadron and was killed whilst training in battle formation cloud flying and interception photography. He had been carrying out interception practice 1 1/2 miles northwest of Ballyhalbert.

Movilla Cemetery, Newtownards
Robert Orr Thompson was serving as a Lance Bombardier with 3 Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery when he was Killed in Action at Tobruk.

Pilot Officer Hugh Wilson was a Wireless Operator / Air Gunner serving with Royal Air Force Bomber Command in 90 Squadron when he was Killed in Action on the night of 25th / 26th August 1944.

On that particular night the Lancaster aircraft of 90 Squadron were on a Bombing raid to the Opel Factory at Russelsheim, Germany.

These are a pair of Brothers.

Henry Corry was serving with 175 Battery, 66th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery and his Brother, David, was with the Royal Scots Fusiliers.

These headstones are a short distance from each other.

Captain Samuel David Corry, Royal Army Medical Corps was serving with Number 3 Commando when he died of wounds received at Dieppe. 
John Brown, like Henry Corry above, was a Gunner with 66 Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery when he died on 5th May 1941 (The night of the "Fire Raid" during the Belfast Blitz)

Flight Sergeant Raymond Farquhar Simpson was serving with the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

On 18th November 1943 he was in Lockheed Hudson Aircraft AE653 flying from Number 5 (Coastal) Operational Training Unit at Long Kesh and taking part in Rocket Firing Practice when the aircraft crashed into Strangford Lough.

Frederick Armand Morrison was serving with 210 Squadron, Royal Air Force who were flying Short Sunderland aircraft when he was Killed in Action in Norway on 10th April 1940. 
James Gordon had served throughout the First World War but when the Second World War began he once again volunteered his services - this time with Belfast Auxiliary Fire Service!
Comber Pillbox

This is a pillbox that can be found on the shore of Strangford Lough between Comber and Newtownards. 

It is positioned to have an excellent view of the Lough and is best found by using the coastal path which runs from the Flood Gates Car Park in Newtownards to the Water Treatment plant where it is situated in a corner beside the perimeter fence.

The grass on the top is an interesting camouflage feature which remains in place.

Camperdown Heavy Anti-Aircraft Gun Battery, Comber

At the outbreak of the Second World War the City of Belfast was is a very serious position being easy to locate from the air due to its sitting at the head of Belfast Lough. 

It was almost totally undefended in 1939 and to make matters even worse Anti Aircraft Units were moved to Britain!

In June 1940 Belfast was protected by the total of 7 A.A. Guns which was increased to 6 Light A.A. and 16 H.A.A. Guns by Spring 41.

When hostilities began Anti-Aircraft Command had 695 HAA guns, many of which were obsolete, 253 LAA guns and 2700 searchlights which may sound reasonable until you consider the approved totals required which were 2232 HAA, 1200 LAA and 4128 Searchlights.

On the left is where shells were stored for one of the guns whilst on the right is where telephone communications took place from the Operations Room.

Below shows the shelving where the Shells were kept.

Shown here is Heavy Anti Aircraft Battery LR3 which consists of 4 Gun pits with the centrally located Command Post and larger Accommodation building.

Such positions were manned chiefly by 102 Heavy Anti Aircraft Regiment and this one can be seen from the Comber to Dundonald walkway on the right between Ballyrainey and the Soccer School of Excellence.

**Sadly I have learned that all but the Accommodation Building have now been totally erased from the landscape. Another part of our WW2 past is now gone**

Craigantlet Medium Frequency Direction Finding Buildings

This building can be seen at Craigantlet on the hill between Holywood and Newtownards.

I have been told there were 2 large wooden masts beside the building which have now gone. These had white insulators and the station was the Medium Frequency, Direction Finding (MF/DF) station allocated to Belfast / Sydenham.

Inside the building you can see the original pale blue colouring.

Where the old stove stood can be seen and the holes around where the dart board once hung shows that more practice was required!!

It was very pleasing to discover that some individuals have left their initials in the brickwork of this air raid shelter.

At one of the entrances is "B.M  W.M A.W Aug 26 1942"

In his autobiography "McAughtry's War" Sam McAughtry tells of being the Navigator in a Beaufighter well out over the Atlantic Ocean and turning in the direction of Islay. He made a radio call to this Radio Station and "All the way across 500 miles that signal came, and I swear I smelt soda bread baking as the morse reached my earphones".

Tyrella Beach and Ballykinler Camp

This photograph was taken from an aircraft at about 30,000 feet however most of the Camp can be seen.

From left to right is Abercorn Barracks below which is Sandes Home. Four Shooting Ranges can be clearly seen and below these are Training Buildings and Storage Areas.

The undulating ground above the Ranges is the Training Area which may feature in the photograph above and on the right is the Close Quarter Battle Range. Old First World War Training Trenches were located northwest of this near the Sea.

The Training Area continues to the right past "Flagstaff" to Dundrum Bay.

The green Huts as shown above would have been positioned centre bottom of this photograph.

Tyrella Beach has a line of Anti-Landing Poles which can be seen to be in great condition. Indeed there are 2 lines of these which remain.

With the beach being in close proximity to the Army's Abercorn Barracks a short distance along the coast at Ballykinler it was decided that such defences would be useful in preventing any planned airborne landing by enemy forces.

This pillbox is situated centrally to command as much of Tyrella Beach as possible.

This Green hut was one of those which stood in Ballykinler Camp however it has now been relocated to the Somme Heritage Centre at Conlig.
At the start of WW2 Ballykinlar was home to 2nd Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment who soon left to become part of the B.E.F. in France. Following December 1941 soldiers of the 1st Armoured Division of the U.S. Army were at Ballykinler until they left for North Africa and were replaced by the U.S. 5th Infantry Division until D-Day.

United States Army Artillery Unit 106 Coastal Artillery (Anti-Aircraft) Battalion was based here along with Headquarters,Headquarters Company and C Company 1st Armoured Division Tank Destroyer Battalion, 13th Armoured Reconnaissance Company, Numbers 2 and 3 Battalion of 13 Armoured regiment, Divisional Headquarters Service Company, 13 Armoured Regiment Service Company, 13 Armoured Regiment Maintenance Company and Ordnance C Company - all of the 1st Armoured Division.

The photographs above show American Tanks training with Infantry whilst the lower left picture shows British Army Bren Gun Carriers in training at Ballykinler.

The King & Queen are shown on the left inspecting the American Tanks (Pathe News picture)

(See http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks11/1100731h/ for more information and thanks to Ed Luke for the upper and lower right pictures)

American Tanks during an Exercise at Ballykinler which was filmed by Pathe.

The Pillbox shown here is located on the western side of Tyrella Beach at Tyrella South.

It is in great condition and the inside is shown below.

King and Queen visit Ballykinler
Major General R.P. Hartle, Commander of U.S. Forces in Northern Ireland, helping the Queen from a Jeep. (From "Home Away From Home" with other photographs from Life Magazine)
Shown here is Major General Charles Wolcott Ryder standing pointing to the left of Queen Elizabeth and King George VI during the inspection of a Training Exercise at Ballykinler Ranges. (http://www.iowanationalguard.com)

The King and Queen (From Life Magazine)

In January 1942,General Hartle  lead the first American forces to be sent overseas in World War II and landing in Belfast.
King George VI and Queen Elizabeth reviewed the American forces during Training at Ballykinler on 25th June 1942.

The King salutes as British Soldiers march past.

Queen Elizabeth later had the photograph of her and General Hartle in a Jeep signed and sent to the General with the typed message shown above. 
The picture above shows American Soldiers passing in review of the King on the football pitch at Ballykinler.
(The photographs here are available at http://www.whilbr.org/GeneralHartle/index.aspx )
Fife, Drum and Bugle Corps of the 6th Armoured Infantry Division playing at Ballykinler in August 1942. (From the Book "Home Away From Home)
British Soldiers training on the Ranges at Ballykinler camp. (PRONI photo)
There are a line of Pillboxes along Tyrella Beach and Ballykinler Camp. Two of which are shown here.
Nissen Hut in Ballykinler Village
This old Nissen Hut remains in Ballykinler Village. 
Church of Ireland Ballykinlar
Serjeant Cecil George Smith of 2nd Battalion The Northamptonshire Regiment died on 26th September 1940.

Fusilier William Francis Harold Harris of the Royal Irish Fusiliers died on 30th January 1941.

Private William Gideon Lakin of the North Staffordshire Rrgiment died on 18th December 1941.

Colour Quarter Master Sergeant Francis Bowman Morgan of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps died on 6th July 1942.

All these men have been laid to rest in the Church of Ireland Church at Ballykinler.

Newcastle Naval Mine.
This British Naval Mine, which has many of its prongs remaining, can be seen near the Harbour in Newcastle. 

Belgian Soldiers in Newcastle

Soldiers from 6th Infantry Brigade, Belgian Army were in the Newcastle area for some time.

The photographs here are from the Private Collection of Staf Verhoeven whose Father Ludovicus Verhoeven took them whilst in Northern Ireland.

Below is  a group photograph of the Belgian Soldiers which has been described on the back as "Tullybrannigan, New-Castle, Ireland"

********Please Do Not Copy******** (Thanks very much to Staf Verhoeven for these Photographs)

Belgian Soldiers On The Move

These photographs are from the Ludovicus Verhoeven Collection and show some L.C.T.'s (Landing Craft Tanks)

In the picture on the right you can see Ludovicus on L.S.T. 366. which, although built by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation in Massachusetts, was operated by the Royal Navy.

Launched on 11th November 1942 the ship was in service until 26th January 1946 when it was returned to the United States Navy.

********Please Do Not Copy******** (Thanks very much to Staf Verhoeven for these Photographs)

United States Army in Newcastle and Bryansford
The picture here  (From "After The Battle") shows what was the U.S. Army 11th Infantry Regiments Gun Park.

The location can be found in Donard Car Park just off the Main Street in Newcastle.

When in the Car Park if you look towards the mountains with the football pitch in front of you it should be possible to see this view. - My photo is the same tree as it looks today.

Some evidence of the Camp remains such as this Concrete Path and Concrete base for one of the many Nissen Huts which were in this part of Donard Park.

In the same area is where part of the 11th Infantry 5th Infantry Division were based at what was Donard Lodge however the old house was demolished in the 1960's.

The three photographs above show the once impressive "Shimna House" which was also used by U.S. Troops.
Slieve Donard Hotel, Newcastle
The Slieve Donard Hotel in Newcastle was requisitioned by the Ministry of Education during the Winter of 1941 / 1942 as an Evacuee Hostel.
Newcastle Pillboxes
Shown here are two of the Pillboxes which can be seen at Newcastle.
The one on the left is immediately beside the Slieve Donard Hotel, which you can see in the background.
Unfortunately it has been decided to conceal this piece of history from public view.
The one on the right is on the opposite side of the Bay and immediately beside the Outdoor Swimming Pool.
The following two photographs show the access door (Which has subsequently been removed) as well as inside the structure.
Kilkeel Chain Home Radar
"Chain Home" was the codename for an extensive network of radar stations covering the coastline of the United Kingdom to provide early warning of attack.

It was also known as AMES Type 1 meaning Air Ministry Experimental Station and had a radar fixed to the top of radio tower masts to facilitate the long range detection of aircraft. 

First tested during the Battle of Britain the Chain Home System was a success and fortunately, even though a number of stations were attacked, the Germans did not realise how important the masts were and did not attack them.

Shown here are some examples of Chain Home which are in the Kilkeel area.

There is a classic Guardroom (Above Right) as well as 4 other buildings. During the war these were covered in earth with lots of foliage grown on top to provide camouflage as can be seen in the picture of the large building shown below.

The last pictures show a written warning to personnel regarding the electrical power unit which was inside these buildings. - I have found this warning in both the large as well as small buildings.
Rathfriland Pillboxes

This rather large pillbox can be seen at the Ulsterbus station in the centre of Rathfriland. I believe it had the official designation FW3/28 and is better known as a Type 28 Pillbox being shellproof and designed to hold a 2pdr Anti-Tank Gun or 6pdr Hotchkiss gun.

Unfortunately it is not possible to gain access however the thickness of the walls show that it is shellproof and has a commanding view towards the Mountains of Mourne.

Shown above are 2 pictures of a second Pillbox in Rathfriland. - This one is built into the wall of the Health Centre in John Street. The ports and access have been sealed however you can see from the roof of the pillbox that it commanded a considerable area.

Gilford Castle

This is an amazing relic of the dark days of the Second World War.

Shown here are the gates of the entrance to Gilford Castle.

On looking closely at the pillar on the right of this photograph you will see some strange markings which are shown in greater detail in the next picture.

This is a very tangible reminder of life in Northern Ireland during the Second World War as these are scrapes which were made by U.S. Soldiers who were sharpening their bayonets while on sentry duty!

The grounds of the castle are private however the gate pillars are easily accessible.

Bleary Pillboxes

The rather impressive looking pillbox shown above remains in excellent condition.

The inside is very similar in design to the pillbox at Gilford Road, Portadown and again, as in the case of the Portadown pillbox this is easily accessable at Cranny Road. - I believe the line of the River Bann was used for the construction of a Defence Line in the event that Northern Ireland was invaded by the Germans.

The second picture shows a second pillbox in the same area which is rather overgrown and difficult to find. On looking inside it is the same design as the first.

Scarva Pillbox Defences

The pictures here show three of the pillbox defences around the village of Scarva.

All appear to be a Type 23 and are shellproof with thick walls with a machinegun table at each port. The shutters have been centrally hinged but are now gone and there is also a small storage space.

This first example is at the northern entrance to the village with the second example shown here being at Fir Tree Lane.

It is interesting to see that on entering the pillbox there appears to have been some form of noticeboard on the left of the entrance passage.

Another Type 23 can be found immediately beside the graveyard of the Church of Ireland Church where it has an excellent position overlooking the village and commanding a view south. - It is very difficult to access and any attempt to do so would be very unwise!!

As with the Fir Tree Lane example this pillbox situated at Drummiller Lane overlooks the main Scarva to Bannbridge Road.

This example is in great condition and easily accessable. Interestingly there are markings in the protective wall covering the entrance. One says "N.S. 41" with the second "W.T." with an illegible date.

Scarvagh House

Scarvagh House was used as a Fuel Depot and a few buildings still remain.

An illustration of the importance of this location is shown by the Pillbox that protects the entrance to the House.

The two pictures below show a Fuel Tanker Refuelling Point while the red bricked building has a sturdy concrete plinth as well as piping on two sides.