The Second World War in Northern Ireland

The Second World War in Northern Ireland

County Fermanagh Part 1

B-17 Flying Fortress "Galley Uncle" at The Graan, Enniskillen

Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress "Galley Uncle" crashed at The Graan on 8th December 1943 killing seven Airmen.

Witnesses at the time reported the aircraft engines coughing and spluttering as it missed the spire of St Macartins Cathedral before heading away from Enniskillen and crashing on the hillside beside The Graan Passionest Monastery.

Both locals and Priests ran to provide assistance to the injured who were subsequently cared for in local hospitals.

This photograph shows the dedication of the plaque shown top right.

Shown above are the people behind the names - Sad to see that 7 of the Airmen in this picture lost their lives in this crash.

(Thanks very much to Selwyn Johnston for these pictures)

Visit by Consul General of the United States of America Mr Daniel Lawton to the Memorial on 18th May 2016 and having the circumstances of what had happened explained by Father Brian D'Arcy.

The American Consul General, Daniel Lawton, laying a Wreath at the Memorial.

U.S. Army Cartoons, Ely Lodge, Enniskillen

Ely Lodge was home to 168th Infantry (excluding the 2nd Battalion) 34th Infantry Division of the United States Army during 1942 and from 16th December 1943 until prior to their departure in June 1944 was also used by 2nd Battalion, 13th Infantry, 8th Infantry Division U.S. Army.

The Cartoon Characters shown here were painted in a Nissen Hut at Ely Lodge by American Soldiers who were based there and fortunately they still remain to be seen.

(Thanks very much to Mr Selwyn Johnston for these photographs.)

U.S. Army at Ely Lodge

These pictures show Soldiers from Cannon Company, 121st Infantry Regiment, 8th Infantry Division testing the waterproofing of vehicles at Ely Lodge on 17th May 1944. 

In the background of the last picture is a Jeep crew!

This aerial photograph shows where this testing took place as it looks today.

These are stills from a Video which can be seen on this Website. (Google)

Enniskillen War Memorial

American Soldiers in Belmore Street, Enniskillen during WW2 and as the same street looks today.

The Inniskillings Memorial behind them has been moved to beside Enniskillen Castle.

Enniskillen Castle

Shown here is one of the best known landmarks in County Fermanagh -  the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers Regimental Museum.

"The Skins" have a large number of battle honours with the Queens Colour flag including 6 from the Second World War covering Northwest Europe, North Africa, Sicily, Italy, Yenangyaung and Burma.

An American Soldier in Enniskillen Castle. (From "Pardon Me Boy")

With a history of over 300 years this Museum is well worth a visit and is open throughout the year. For more information visit the "Museums" section of this site.

U.S. Army 8th Infantry Division Flag in Enniskillen

The 8th Infantry Division of the United States Army had Units based in County Fermanagh during 1943 and 1944 when they departed in July to take part in the invasion of Occupied Europe.

Some 20 years later on 18th March 1964 Private John Burns, who had been in Fermanagh with the 8th and was from Dublin, made the journey from Frankfurt, Germany where he was still serving with the U.S. Army.

He presented the people of Enniskillen with the 8th Infantry Division flag along with a message of thanks for the friendship and cooperation of the local population from his Commander, Major General Stanley R. Larsen. (Shown here)

The Flag was accompanied with a Certificate saying “For Hospitality and Co-operation extended by Residents and Officials that will never be Forgotten”

Since leaving County Fermanagh the Division had been in combat for 226 days during which 2,532 soldiers were killed in action and 10,057 being wounded of whom 288 died of their wounds.

One of those who died was Brigadier General Nelson W. Walker who lost his life whilst leading his Platoon just 5 Days after landing in France.

At the time of his visit Private Burns was accompanied by the American Consul, Mr Byron Manfull and his wife Mrs Manfull.

On receiving the gift the Mayor of Enniskillen, Alderman W.F.Bryson declared “This is an historic occasion” and the flag was subsequently hoisted on Enniskillen Town Hall flagpole. (My sincere thanks to Roger Edmondson for this.)

Drumcose Estate, Enniskillen

16th December 1943 saw the arrival at Drumcose Estate of Company A and Company B of the 8th Medical Battalion (8th Infantry Division)

From December 1943 until June 44 Drumcose was Headquarters of 28th Infantry (8th Infantry Division) and from 15th December 1943 was used by 3rd Battalion, 13th Infantry (8th Infantry Division)

Royal British Legion, Enniskillen

This stained glass item is worthy of note.

It can be seen in the Enniskillen Branch of the Royal British Legion and shows Field Marshall Montgomery with the flags of the United States of America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Above the Union Flag is the Royal Air Force crest whilst below in the scroll the wording says "We Few. We Happy Few. We Band of Brothers"

Young Soldier Buried in Enniskillen

This is the last resting place of 6984974 Fusilier Dominic Ward of the 70th (Young Soldiers) Battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

He is buried in Enniskillen Roman Catholic Cemetery and his date of death is given as 19th September 1941.

He was the son of Michael and Bridget Ward from Enniskillen.

Dominic was only 17 years old so I find it rather poignant that he has been laid to rest in full view of a Secondary School where students of the same age as Dominic are still in education.

I have been unable to find the circumstances as to how he died however I believe that it was probably either by accident or natural causes.

The soldiers of the 70th Battalion were deemed too young to be involved in service oversees and were used mainly for homeland defence.


Enniskillen  Army Reserves Centre

The impressive stone pictured here shows the Cap Badge of The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.


This used to sit at the front entrance of the Royal inniskilling Fusiliers Depot at St. Lucia Barracks in Omagh however, following the departure of the Military from St. Lucia Barracks this has now found a new home at Rossorry Church Road in Enniskillen and can be seen from the front gate.


United States Army Soldiers in Enniskillen

Impressive photograph of American Soldiers walking along Townhall Street, Enniskillen.

(Sincere Thank-you to Chubby Fitzpatrick. Google Comp)

Enniskillen Railway Station

Sadly Enniskillen Railway Station has long gone however this painting by David Briggs catches the atmosphere of when the U.S. Army soldiers were leaving their Sweethearts behind.

This photograph shows the Staff at Enniskillen Railway Station.

Included in the photograph are two British Soldiers - One N.C.O. in the back row along with an Officer sitting in the front row wearing an Arm Band.

The photograph dates from January 1941 and although I have no firm information as to why they were there I believe the Soldiers would have been involved in helping with Troop Movements and may have served with the Royal Engineers - If you have any information then please contact me at the E-Mail below. (Thanks to Selwyn Johnston)

Metal Collected for the War Effort, Enniskillen

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 Darling Street, Enniskillen.

Manor House Hotel, Lisnarrick

During the war the Manor House was requisitioned by the Government and was used by United States Forces and an Officers Mess and Headquarters for the nearby Killadeas Flying Boat station.

Visitors to the hotel should take time to explore the immediate area which includes both Killadeas and Castle Archdale Flying Boat stations as shown on this website.

The old building illustrated is on the hill between the Manor House and Killadeas and would have been used in connection with the Air Base. The pictures show an old door painted Air Force Blue, a large room in original colours and Second World War toilet facilities!!

This Flying Boat Mooring Block can be seen at the Manor House Marina

Necarne Castle, Irvinestown

I cannot think of a more bizarre item to retain as a reminder of involvement in the Second World War than a Mortuary Slab!

There is no doubt however that it is most definitely something that people will look at and we are fortunate that this unique piece of our Second World War history was saved from the bulldozers by people with a desire to maintain a tangible link between Necarne Castle and its WW2 role.

Below is one of the few Nissen Huts which remain at Necarne. This can be seen in the grounds of Necarne Castle (Shown Below) in Irvinestown.

On 21st May 1942 this Hospital was opened and 109th Medical Battalion of 34th Infantry U.S. Army were based here and between 19th September 1942 and 28th December 1943. This was initially a 200 bed hospital however the military soon increased capacity to 500 beds. It was known as 160th Station Hospital of V Corps. Its name was changed to 28th Station Hospital which it remained until 19th August 1944.

Being a Hospital there was also 147th Army Postal Unit based there between 26th January and 22nd May 1944.

Irvinestown Cemeteries

The Union Flag draped coffins of three Royal Air Force Personnel being brought for burial in Irvinestown.

If you have any information regarding the identities of these men and the circumstances of their deaths then please email me at the address given below.

A Military Band marches at a 201 Squadron R.A.F. Funeral in Irvinestown in August 1943.

War Graves can be found in both the Church of Ireland Cemetery (Above and below left) and Roman Catholic Chapel Cemetery (Below right)

Dont forget to look down the side of the Church of Ireland church because sadly there are many more graves to visit.

Some other Airmen also lost their lives other than through either Enemy Action or Aircraft Accidents.

21st August 1944. Flight Sgt. 1294335 William Thomas Gale, RAFVR. Age N/K Died as a result of being struck by a rotating Catalina propeller. - He is buried in Irvinestown Church of Ireland Churchyard Plot 2. Grave 54.

His headstone is shown here with those of Warrant Officer Darrell and Leading Aircraftsman Burnett shown directly below.

21st September 1944. Warrant Officer, 422693 Edward Lindsay Darrell, 22 years old. RNZAF drowned at Rock Bay, Lough Erne. He is buried in Irvinestown Church of Ireland Churchyard Plot 2. Grave 55.

31st July 1945. Leading Aircraftsman, 1701051 Kenneth John Burnett. 22 years old. RAFVR. Drowned in swimming in Lake. He is buried in Irvinestown Church of Ireland Churchyard Plot 2. Grave 68.

Irvinestown Royal Air Force Funerals

Here are a few photographs of Royal Air Force funerals.

The first is the Church of Ireland Church while the Roman Catholic Church is shown in the second and third photographs.

Crom Castle, Newtownbutler

On 6th April 1941 17th Infantry Brigade of 5th Y Division Leicester Regiment and Seaforth Highlanders arrived at Crom Castle where nissen huts were constructed in the grounds for use by soldiers while Officers lived inside the castle.

Between 16th December 1943 and June 1944 United States Army soldiers of 3d Battalion, 28th Infantry 8th Infantry Division were also based at Crom.

They had a Headquarters Company as well as Company I, K, L and M. (Picture below is from Crom Castle Commemoration Brochure)

804th Tank Destroyer Battalion, B Company, United States Army were also based for a time at Crom Castle prior to their deployment to Europe.

These soldiers are from 6th Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders and they are seen on Exercise at Crom near Newtownbutler in November 1941. (Imperial War Museum Photograph)

8th Infantry Division, United States Army Training at Crom Castle

Soldiers of the 8th Infantry Division, United States Army shown above and below involved in Bayonet Practice at Crom Castle. (Thanks very much to Selwyn Johnston)

8th Infantry Division, United States Army working with a tent at Crom Castle (Thanks to Selwyn Johnston)

Beside the Tennis Court at Crom Castle (Thanks to Selwyn Johnston)

Shown above are the U.S. Army 8th Infantry Division cloth patch along with Identification "Dog Tags" belonging to Laurence C. Culver and Robert P. Killam who had been based at Crom Castle. (Thanks to Selwyn Johnston)

The United States Army I.D. Disc found at Crom

United States military Personnel wear two aluminium dog-tags on a metal beaded chain around their necks.

The idea of the two is that if the individual is killed then one of them is passed through the Military to confirm his passing whilst the other ramains with the body to ensure that it is accurately accounted for and receives proper burial.

In the early 1990’s Bert Robinson was Clerk of Works for the National Trust and was involved in refurbishing the old carpenter's shop in the Forge Yard at Crom he found one section of such a “dog-tag”.

This was inscribed: 'Damian Baca. 20847583 142 A -- Mike Baca 814 Dunlop Santa Fe N.M."

Some research by Mr Colin Beacom has uncovered the following in relation to Damian Baca –

Damian Baca was born on 20th May 1921 and prior to enlisting in the Army Damian was a Bachelor and worken in “Unskilled occupations in Laundering, Cleaning, Dyeing and pressing Apparel and other garments”

His Monthly salary was $312 and he had no other income.

During 1940 he lived with his Father Miguel and Mother Catalia at 814 Dunlap Street, Santa Fe. He had two younger Brothers – Mike and Tony and had been educated to Eighth Grade in Elementary School followed by Grammar School.

It is interesting to note that Damian had volunteered to join the Army on 6th January 1941 and following the entry of the United States into the Second World War following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941 he was fortunate to survive throughout the War until his release on 28th September 1945.

He died on 26th April 1990 and was buried in Plot 5, 423 in Santa Fe National Cemetery, New Mexico on 30th April 1990.

(This information comes from the Impartial Reporter and Belfast News Letter)


A Soldiers Death at Crom

The 8th Infantry Division, United States Army was sent to Northern Ireland as part of a program to replace British troops garrisoning the area.

While it was there the 8th spent its time training, not knowing it was also being used as part of the Deception operation FORTITUDE NORTH, in which the Germans were being told it was part of a planned invasion of Norway.

One of the highlights of their time in Northern Ireland was a visit from General George Patton who gave them one of his special pep talks, in which he used such fowl language many of the men would remember it for the rest of their lives.

With food short in the country, and Army rations monotonous, they took to fishing by dropping hand grenades it he water. The concussion would stun all the fish in the area and they could just scoop them up.

The 3rd Battalion of the 28th Infantry was billeted at Crom Castle, an old estate right along the border with the Republic of Ireland. The only entertainment was the small “Reilley’s Pub” in nearby Newtownbutler. Alcohol was difficult to get due to the rationing, and often of a poor quality.

All it took to move from dreary blacked-out, heavily rationed Northern Ireland to the brightly lit, un-rationed neutral Republic of Ireland was to slip across a nearby river.

Once over the river those men that made the crossing could slip into a pub, enjoy the nightlife, and bring back alcohol that was unobtainable in the north.

This was a major problem, as every American soldier that crossed the border and was caught by the Southern Irish police (An Garda Siochana) was, in theory, supposed to be interned for the duration of the war. In practice the police seemed to turn a blind eye knowing they were just going to buy a few bottles of whisky and return to Northern Ireland.

The officers of the 3/28th tried to explain the issue to their men. That if caught they could cause a serious international incident (to say nothing of a black mark on the officer’s records).

This was the cause of an incident that was little publicized, but well known in the unit. Due to the situation the names have been withheld, but the veterans know who they are.

Private X was a bit of a troublemaker. He repeatedly crossed into the Republic of Ireland swimming the river and holding his clothes over his head to keep them dry. Once there he would go to a local pub, have a few drinks, buy some whiskey to resell to his friends, and cross back into Northern Ireland.

Lt Y was furious with him as nothing seemed to be able to stop Private X from making the illegal trip. As there was no guard house at Crom Castle, Lt. Y put him in the outdoor coal storage area: a wired enclosure used for storing coal and keeping it from being stolen.

He chose (according to the men) private Z, who was on the somewhat stupid side to guard him, and provided real ammunition for his rifle.

Lt. Y told private Z “If he so much as lights a cigarette, shoot him!” In theory this should have meant not to let Private X get away with anything, or to escape. It also could have been related to his being in a combustible area with all the coal and dust. In practice, and it is not known if this was planned (although some veterans felt it was) Private Z took it seriously.

A while later a shot rang out, and soldiers poured out of their barracks to see what had happened. Sure enough Private X had lit a cigarette, and following orders Private Z had shot and killed him.

The incident was hushed up. No action was taken against Lt. Y as he was only using a figure of speech and didn’t think he would be taken so literally. Private Z was found not to blame as he was only following orders (and was known to be a little slow). However, the men of Lt. Y’s company held it against him and blamed him for the murder of their friend.

Later on, in their first action in France, Lt. Y was killed. Another officer nearby saw it happen, and said it was single bullet from a sniper.

Long after the war one veteran of the company ran into a man from Lt. Y’s platoon and mentioned the death of Lt. Y. The response was interesting.

He said,” yeah we took care of that bastard.”

While the facts point to Lt. Y being killed by a German sniper in the hedgerows, it remains unknown if he had actually been a victim of one of his men getting revenge for Private X.

This item has been included with the permission of Jon Gawne.

Please visit http://www.fatherswar.com/8thinfdiv/WW2/WW2index.html

Copyright Jonathan Gawne 2010.  (The sources for this story must remain confidential, however they come from interviews of four separate veterans of the unit at different times and places)

Clough Church of Ireland, Rosslea

Flight Sergeant Thomas Lipsey Gibson was a Pilot serving with 514 Squadron, Royal Air Force.

On the night of 21st / 22nd May 1944 he was flying Lancaster Bomber DS633 JI-B on a raid to Duisberg in Germany.

Circumstances remain unclear however the Order of Battle states that this aircraft is believed to have crashed in The Wash.

A radio fix had been obtained by the R.A.F. Station at Waterbeach at 03.03 and the Crew was ordered to jettison its bombs.

The aircraft may have been shot down by the Me 410 of Johann Trenke who claimed 3 aircraft over Northern Norfolk between 0305 and 0322 on that morning. - There were no survivors however all the bodies were recovered.

Flying Officer Rowland David Betty was serving as a Wireless Operator with 50 Squadron, Royal Air Force Bomber Command when he was Killed in Action on 29th January 1944.

He is buried in the Commonwealth War Graves in Berlin "It is Better to Die on your Feet than Live on your Knees"

Flying Officer Joshua Stephen Willis was with 25 Operational Training Unit and flying Wellington 1C R1767 from R.A.F. Finningley on a Night Navigation Exercise. - A Searchlight illuminated the aircraft which crashed into the ground at Chatteris, Cambridgeshire.

James Samuel Willis is recorded on the Headstone shown here as having been in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers however the Commonwealth War Graves Commission shows him as serving with 9 Bomb Disposal Company, Royal Engineers when he died on 11th April 1941.

Killesher Church of Ireland, Florencecourt

Volunteer Betty Burleigh was serving with the Auxiliary Territorial Service when she was killed on the night of 15th / 16th April 1941. 

This was the night of the Easter Tuesday Luftwaffe Air Raid on Belfast


Devenish Church of Ireland, Monea

Sergeant James Irvine McCullagh was an Air Gunner serving with 427 (Royal Canadian Air Force) Squadron, R.A.F. when he died on 22nd October 1943. 

Edward L. Scott is recorded on this Headstone nearby as having been Killed in Action on 31st March 1942.

Lough Navar Air Crash Memorials

These are 2 memorials side by side at the Lough Navar Viewpoint relating to the crashes of a 201 Squadron Sunderland and 202 Squadron Catalina in November 1943 and November 1944 respectively.

The wording on the two memorials is as follows :-

"WAR GRAVE

Sunderland W4036 Of 201 Squadron RAF Sank in Lough Erne on November 18th 1943 Flt/Lt Douglas J Dolphin RCAF (Skipper) age 23

Sgt. John B Green RAF age 23 Sgt Elvert Parry RAF age 20 Killed. Buried Flintshire. Wales.

Remember all airmen based on Lough Erne who died in World War Two"

And "CATALINA JX 242 OF 202 SQN. KILLADEAS. CRASHED AT LOUGH AN LABAN ON NOVEMBER 20th 1944 EIGHT CREW MEMBERS DIED

Flt/Lt. George Forbes-Lloyd RAF (Skipper), P/O William Sharpe RAAF, W/O Ernest Slack RAF, Sgt. Fred Deam RAF, Sgt. John Geldert RAF, Sgt. Peter Marshall RAF, Sgt. Douglas Nater RAF, Sgt. Gordon Tribble RAF "

Shown here is the headstone of Pilot Officer William Sharp who was laid to rest in the Church of Ireland graveyard in Irvinestown.

"In memory of Elvet, Grandson, Died in Action" - Buried in Mold Cemetery. (Many thanks to David Smith)

This photograph of  P.F.C. Phil Callaghan was taken at Lough Navar during the search for one of the crashed Aircraft. (Many thanks to Breege McCusker and Selwyn Johnston for permission to use this photograph)