The Second World War in Northern Ireland

The Second World War in Northern Ireland

County Fermanagh Part 2

Belleek and the "Donegal Corridor"

On the left is a photograph of a Memorial Stone which can be seen on the bridge at Belleek facing the famous Belleek Pottery.

This refers to the use by Allied Aircraft of the "Donegal Corridor" through neutral Republic of Ireland to access the Atlantic Ocean.

The photograph above shows Sunderland Flying Boats using the "Corridor" to return to base following a patrol over the Atlantic Ocean.

The aircraft are shown flying over the Neutral Republic of Ireland back towards Northern Ireland.

If it had not been for the"Corridor" then the range of these aircraft would have been considerably restricted resulting in the inability of the Royal Air Force Coastal Command to protect shipping for the entire crossing of the Atlantic.

Derrynacross Radio Station, Belleek

This is without doubt the most westerly Allied Forces station in the United Kingdom. It is in the townland of Derrynacross to the west of the main Belleek to Garrison Road and was operated by the Royal Air Force.

The site included the building shown here and 2 large masts which broadcast a narrow radio beam from its Medium Frequency "Leader" Radio Beacon.

The purpose of the beam was to ensure the safe passage of aircraft travelling across the Atlantic Ocean from the United States. It was vital that all the aircraft making their way to the Allied Forces in Europe arrived safely and did not land in neutral Eire and face the possibility of Internment. (Google picture)

Magheramenagh Radio Station, Belleek.

This was a United States Army Air Force operated station which maintained a Radio beacon for Allied Aircraft operating over the Atlantic Ocean.

The Radio Station stood on the Magheramenagh Castle grounds and was operated by around 10 personnel of the U.S. Army Air Force Group known as “Army Airway Communication System”.

It was a very low frequency Homing Beacon which emitted 4 beams with the West Beam reaching out over the Atlantic Ocean where Allied aircraft could locate and then fly along the beam towards Belleek where the East Beam went along the length of Lower Lough Erne in order to guide the aircrews to a safe landing. - The old plan above shows the direction of the beams from this radio station while this photograph of the Radio Antenna was taken by Dr Philip S. Callahan when he was working at the top of one of the antenna poles. The flat roofed building which held the transmitters can be seen bottom right of centre.

Aerial imagery shows that one of the old buildings remains standing. It can be seen left of centre in the photograph below.

This plan shows how the beam worked to ensure a safe flight course to Lough Erne. 

(Thanks to Dr Philip S. Callahan, Tom Dykstra and Joe O’Loughlin for all their information and assistance)

Bombing Range Quadrant Tower, Boa Island

This is a Bombing Range Quadrant Tower which stands on Boa Island.

The tower is in the townland of Drenagh on the western side of the Island and is close to the southern shore.

An impressive example in super condition - even down to the cream/yellow paint inside!

Probably one of the best preserved of all such towers that I have visited.

Bombing Range Quadrant Tower, Templecarn

The Bombing Range Quadrant Tower shown above was one of three, including the one shown above, which covered a Bombing Range off Boa Island which was used by Sunderland and Catalina Flying Boats from the nearby Castle Archdale and Killadeas Air Bases.

This one is in the townland on Templecarn at the western side of the tower shown below.

It was pleasing to see that the window frames, Handrail and even part of the telephone communication system remains!

Trory Sunderland Flying Boat Memorial

This Memorial Stone marks the crash site of a Shorts Sunderland Flying Boat of 422 Squadron Royal Canadian Air Force on 20th February 1944.

Both Air Crew were killed.

They were Pilot Officer L.A. Hebenton from Calgary in Canada and Sergeant R.W. Bodsworth from Northampton in England.

Hebenton was buried nearby in Irvinestown and I have included a picture of his headstone while Bodsworth was flown home to be buried in Kingsthorpe Cemetery, Northamptonshire.

Catalina Flying Boat over Enniskillen

A Catalina Flying Boat flying over Enniskillen during the Second World War with my photographs showing the same locations today.  Second World War in Northern Ireland - 

(Thanks very much to Selwyn Johnston)

British Soldiers on Parade in Enniskillen

This photograph shows British Soldiers on parade in Church Street, Enniskillen.

The photograph below shows the same area with a Nissen Hut which appears to be in the grounds of St Macartin's Cathedral.

If you know the reason for this Parade then please contact me at the E-Mail address below. (Sincere Thanks to Sheriff Johnston for these photographs)

Portora Royal School

The 2 plates shows here can be seen on the impressive entrance gate to Portora Royal School in Enniskillen having been erected to mark the passing of past pupils of Portora Royal School who were killed during the Second World War.

Flight Lt. Derek Edward Reay was 22 years old and serving with 207 Squadron, Royal Air Force. He was in Lancaster Bomber W4959 on 23rd / 24th November 1943 on a Bombing Raid to Berlin when the aircraft was lost with the lives of all crew members.

Flying Officer Geoffrey Norman Reay was 21 years old and serving with 51 Squadron, Royal Air Force. He was in Halifax Bomber LW177 on 5th November 1944 on a mission to Bochum when this was one of three bombers lost. He is buried in Rheinberg War Cemetery.

Captain William Edward Carson Irwin was 31 years old and a member of the Royal Artillery when he was killed on 6th August 1944. He was from Irvinestown.

Unveiling of the Eisenhower Playing Fields informative notice by the United States Consul General Gregory S. Burton (Many thanks to Selwyn Johnston)

With the growth of trees as well as development of the area it is difficult to see the comparison in the pictures here however the little house in the background, Drumlyon Cottage is also shown here as well as an informative Notice which has been erected.


General Eisenhower inspecting American Troops at Portora Playing Fields. (Picture from Crom Castle D-Day 75th Anniversary Brochure)

"Round O Quay" Enniskillen

Here we have the Royal Ulster Constabulary Police Officers on patrol near what is now the "Round O" Quay in Enniskillen. 

The boat, called Lady Ann, is equipped with a Vickers Machine Gun as well as all officers being armed.

This Catalina Flying Boat was motored along the Lough to be moored at the location in this photograph which is at the Round O beside the West (Ann Street) Bridge.

The aircraft was piloted by Flight Lt, later Squadron Leader Edwards and was moored there for "Wings For Victory Week" - Three Thousand people paid 1 Shilling to board and take a look around the aircraft raising £154 for the cause. (Thanks very much to Roger Edmondson for this.)

Royal Ulster Constabulary Training Depot, Enniskillen

Royal Ulster Constabulary Training Depot at Enniskillen was formally opened in 1936. and in May 1937.

During the war the land border with neutral Eire needed to be secured and with an increase in smuggling due to goods being in short supply and subjected to rationing the R.U.C. virtually became Revenue Officers.

War-time regulations needed to be enforced such as 'black-out' requirements on house and vehicle lights.

The R.U.C. was a 'reserved occupation' meaning that Police Officers were deemed essential to the war effort on the Home Front and its members were forbidden to leave to join the other services.

The Ministry of Home Affairs finally gave approval to the enrolment of women as members of the R.U.C. on 16th April 1943. The first six selected recruits entered the Depot in Enniskillen on 15th November 1943.

Castle Coole, Enniskillen

Castle Coole in Enniskillen was used by the United States Army. 

Between 1st and 13th June 1942 it held a Headquarters and Headquarters Company of 109th Quartermaster Battalion. Other Units based here were:-

 A Military Police Platoon from 8th Infantry Division which arrived on 16th December 1943 as well as 12th Engineer Combat Battalion 8th infantry Division which was here from 15th December 1943 until 28th June 1944.

2nd Battalion 28th Infantry of 8th infantry Division who were here from 15th December 1943 until June 1944 and an Antitank Company of 28th Infantry, 8th Infantry Division which arrived on 16th December 1943.

151st Field Artillery Battalion of 34th Infantry Division U.S. Army had been at Bellerena in County Londonderry before going to Tynan Abbey in May 1942 and then onward to Castle Coole.

The picture to the left shows the Stable Block which was used by the soldiers whilst above is the impressive Castle Coole.

Breandrum, Enniskillen.

As you will see from the pictures below Breandrum is the same area as Lower Celtic Park.

In 1942 Breandrum was used by 109th Medical Battalion (Less 2 Collecting Companies) 34th Infantry Division U.S. Army.

From December 1943 they were accompanied by 1st Battalion 28th Infantry (8th Infantry Division) consisting of a Headquarters Company along with Company A, B, C and D as well as a Service Company and Cannon Company from 28th Infantry (8th Infantry Division)

Below the comparison pictures you can see the same large house in the background of the 3 Military Police jeeps on Dublin Road, Enniskillen.

This is an aerial photograph which was taken a few years after the War however it clearly shows both Breandrum and Celtic Park Camps.

The white houses bottom right are the same as shown in the pictures above.

The large building lower left is the old Model School behind which is now the site of the Model Primary School.

Clearly visible from left to right along the bottom of the photograph are rectangular shaped concrete based of the numerous Nissen Huts which had been erected here - Thirteen of which were still remaining in 1949 as seen here. (Photograph from the Belmore Court Motel Facebook Page)

Celtic Park Recreation Ground, Enniskillen

General Eisenhower speaking to Soldiers in Lower Celtic Park, Enniskillen on 18th May 1944 and as it looks today

Here we have a photograph of General Eisenhower visiting American soldiers at Celtic Park Recreation Grounds.

Between 13th June 1942 and 14th December 1942 a Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the 109th Quartermaster Battalion, United States Army were based there along with a Maintenance Platoon who joined them on 19th June and left at the same time.

My photograph shows the same location as it looks today. It is Dublin Road, Enniskillen with the red bricked building being the old Model School.

Former GI Elmer Sellers who was stationed at Celtic Park, Enniskillen in 1943 and remembers General Eisenhower and Pattons visit, recently recalled “the war is now a distant memory but one thing I will never forget is the kindness the people of Enniskillen showed me. That will always be a cherished memory.” (Thanks to Selwyn Johnston for this Information and Quote)

If you look around the wooded area behind the houses shown above the concrete paths which were constructed between the Nissen Huts of the camp can still be seen.

(Thanks very much to Selwyn Johnston for these pictures)

Memorial Stone at Model Primary School, Enniskillen

A Memorial Stone was unveiled by the United States Consul General, Daniel Lawton assisted by Second World War R.A.F. Veteran Bill Eames and United States Army WW2 Veteran Teddy Dixon.

These are some of the photographs which were shown on the display which is seen above while the children are being shown some Second World War equipment and weapons which would have been worn and carried by United States soldiers based on the site where their Primary School now stands.

Tree Planting at Enniskillen Model Primary School

This Plaque and Oak Tree can be seen at the Front Entrance to the Model Primary School.

Here you can see the U.S. Consul General Gregory S. Burton along with Roger Edmondson and Roger's Great Neice Ella Woods.

The tree was donated by Mr. Edmondson along with his Wife, Ann and is in memory of his Father Staff Sergeant James C. Edmondson who served with A Company 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 8th Infantry Division, United States Army and was stationed beside the Model School in Celtic Park.

It should be noted that Breandrum and Celtic Park are immediately beside each other with Castle Coole only a short walk away.

Belle View, Enniskillen

In this picture you can see in the corner where there had been two showers.

This was an old Shower Block at Belle View where 28th Infantry Regiment of 8th Infantry Division, United States Army had a Headquarters, Headquarters Company, Cannon Company, Medical Detachment and Service Company.

They were based here from 15th December 1943 until July 1944.


Sligo Road, Enniskillen

This is Henry Seruga of the U.S. Army who was from Detroit, Michigan and was based at Castlecoole, Enniskillen.

He was in Signals with 8th Infantry Division, 12th Battalion, Company E, and is shown cycling along Sligo Road and his Unit left Enniskillen in June 1944.

(This picture and information comes from the book "Pardon Me Boy" by Ronnie Hanna. Google comparrison picture)

Lisgoole Abbey, Enniskillen

It is pleasing to see that a number of buildings remain to be seen in the grounds of Lisgoole Abbey.

The first and second pictures show a Shower Block while the next two are another building a short distance away.

A Collecting Company from 109th Medical Battalion, 34th Infantry Division where here in 1942.

Between 16th December 1943 and 1944 there was 8th Medical Battalion, minus Companies A and B, 8th Infantry Division.

Lisnaskea Training Area

The townland of Carrickawick in the Knocks area of Lisnaskea was used by the U.S. Army as a Training Area.

Lisnaskea Ground Control Intercept Station

This was built on land in the townland of Drumlught.

Royal Air Force Personnel in Newtownbutler

The photograph above dates from 1943 and shows Royal Air Force personnel, along with one American, in Main Street, Newtownbutler in 1943.

The picture can be dated as the Radar Personnel are wearing the 'Sparks' trade badge.

The positioning of the Royal Air Force Chain Home Radar Station (Remaining building shown left) off Lettergreen Road in the townland of Killyroo in Newtownbutler would provide early warning of any Enemy Aircraft approaching over neutral Eire.

The Radar Station was commissioned in February 1942.

If you know anyone in this photograph please contact me. (Image on left from Google. Thanks to Selwyn Johnston for picture)