The Second World War in Northern Ireland

The Second World War in Northern Ireland

Greater Belfast Part 1

5 Bedford Street

This had been the Northern Ireland Headquarters for the A.T.S. and referred to as "Northern Ireland Reception Depot" however on the outbreak of war it was moved to Victoria Barracks.

Following the Belfast Blitz the H.Q. was again transferred and on this occasion to 3 University Terrace where it remained until June 1942 when the final move took place to the new Thiepval Barracks in Lisburn.

This photograph shows Bedford Street on 6th October 1942. The A.T.S. Headquarters was in the tall building immediately behind the approaching tram in front of which is a U.S. Military Jeep. (B.T. Photograph)




Flush Road Small Arms Firing Range

This was known as Ligoniel Range and Military Personnel used a Small Arms Firing Range on Flush Road to the North of Belfast however on looking around the site I could find virtually no evidence of it ever having existed.

I have been told it was used by Territorial and Civilian Rifle Clubs from the 1860's until the early 1970's.


Royal Courts of Justice

Two Memorial Stones shown here can be seen in the Grand Hall of the Royal Courts of Justice, Chichester Street in Central Belfast.

Of those named here Robert Desmond Connell was killed when a Blenheim Bomber, Serial Number 26273, crashed at Tildarg, Ballymena. He had been 25 years old, had the rank of Leading Aircraftsman and was an Observer under training.

James Craig was 46 years old and a member of 7th Battalion, Royal Ulster Rifles. He had previously served during the First World War and was Mentioned in Dispatched with 2 Bars. He is buried in Belfast City Cemetery.

Melbourne Glaister Fraser held the rank of Flight Sergeant and was serving with 426 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force. He was 30 years old when he was killed and is mentioned on the Alamein Memorial.

Norman Hewitt was a 26 years old Sergeant when he was killed and is buried at Tabarka Ras Rajel Cemetery in Tunisia.

John Frederick Smellie was a Captain with the Glider Pilot Regiment and was killed in action on 23rd September 1944. He is buried in Oosterbeek Cemetery, Arnhem.

Samuel Fleming Stewart was a member of the Royal Ulster Rifles and is reported as having "Died on Active Service" on 12th February 1943 in Belfast.

John Devenish Condy was a Lieutenant with 3 Searchlight Regiment, Royal Artillery. He was 39 years old when he was killed in action whilst serving with the British Expeditionary Force at Dunkirk.

He is buried 20 Km south of Dunkirk at Wormhoudt.

Daniel Martin Wilson was the holder of the Military Cross.

He was serving with 64 Medium Regiment, Royal Artillery and held the rank of Captain.

He was 37 years old when he was killed and is named on the Medjez-El-Bab Memorial in Tunisia.

Thorndyke Street.

This is a large wall mural which can be seen in Thorndyke Street off Templemore Avenue in East Belfast.The mural shows the street as it looked following the German Air Raid of the night 15 / 16th April 194 and the small notice attached gives some extra information.

You can see from the mural that 2 Air Raid Precaution Wardens were killed in the bombing along with 7 residents of the street.

My research shows that the residents lived in numbers 13 to 16 and the photograph shows the same street as it looks today.


"Victory in Europe Day in Medway Street

Lots of happy smiling faces in this (Belfast Telegraph) photograph of a Street Party in Medway Street, Belfast.

Note the Air Raid Shelter which had been constructed in the roadway which can be seen in the background.

Belvoir Park

Although there is little there to illustrate the fact Belvoir Park was a Military Base of some considerable size.

The Admiralty took charge of Belvoir Estate at the start of the war and used it as an Armament Depot. It is amazing to think that at one time there were 131 Buildings, mostly Nissen Huts, erected around the estate.

There are a few signs of its previous usage for visitors who may notice signs of the old concrete road , including a few Passing Places, which winds its way down to the River Lagan.

On the river is a purpose built wharf where munitions were unloaded from barges. Most of these were large naval shells and torpedoes.

Both the British Army and Royal Navy used the House until it was eventually returned to the owner in 1950.

On the left is a view across the River Lagan to where the wharf and Buildings stood during WW2.

The two photographs above show the Wharf side of the River as well as one of the concrete roads which has received a covering of tarmac in recent years.

Ormeau Embankment

Adjacent to Ormeau Park, Ormeau Embankment was used by the United States Army as a Vehicle Assembly Line between October and December 1943. (Google photograph)


Victoria Barracks

This was one of the major Military Headquarters in Belfast.

Part of the defence measures for the Barracks involved it being ringed by large Oil Drums which, when the Air Raid alarm was raised, were set on fire to create a Smoke Screen.

There was an Anti-Aircraft Battery as well as Searchlights at the Barracks which was one of the targets identified for bombing by the Germans and indeed it received a number of direct hits.

The barracks were devastated by the bombing and gutted by fires when the Fire Hydrants were found to be ineffective.

Married Quarters and the Cookhouse were destroyed and a number of A.T.S. Soldiers were killed when their Quarters was hit.

One of the Anti-Aircraft Crews was completely wiped out and there were a number of killed and injured throughout the Barracks.

Between 20th June 1942 and 8th February 1943 this was also home to 234th Military Police Company of the United States Army.

Shown here is what was the Sergeants Mess within the Barracks and is now North Queen Street Community Centre for the people of the New Lodge Area. (Google Pic)

Clearing up after the bombing of Victoria Barracks.

Damage in Victoria Barracks (Imperial War Museum Photographs)

The scene inside Victoria Barracks with the two Church Spires at Carlisle Circus visible in the background.


Extensive Damage.

Damage to Victoria Barracks. (Imperial War Museum Photographs)

This final photograph of the Blitz Damage to Victoria Barracks is interesting because a Barrage Balloon can be seen in the centre top of the picture. (IWM Photos)


Balmoral Golf Club and Kings Hall

The Kings Hall and the land around it had a varied history during the War.- An American Quartermaster Bakery Company was in the Jumping Enclosure with the Auxiliary Fire Service having an Equipment Store in the Implements shed.

The Area to the right of the third hole of Balmoral Golf Club used to be a Prisoner of War Camp.

At another part of the Golf Club, at the thirteenth Fairway there was an Air Raid Shelter as well as an Anti-Aircraft Gun Battery and it was here that one of the Gunners was killed by a misfire with one of the Artillery shells during the Easter Tuesday Air Raid.

The Golf Club website records that during the War  two famous individuals played the course - The World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Joe Louis and Fighter Ace Douglas Bader.

The photograph above shows the Kings Hall / Balmoral Golf Club site as it looked in the years after the war. (From Britain From Above)

Four of the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society buildings around the kings Hall complex were used by A.R.P. to store Gas Masks.

Sections of Short Stirling Bombers were manufactured in the main (Kings) Hall whilst Army Personnel lived in and learned to drive Lorries around the grounds.

(The photograph here is from the excellent Old Belfast Facebook page.)


Crumlin Road Presbyterian Church

This stone is part of the wall of Crumlin Road Presbyterian Church and can be seen in Tennent Street.

It tells that the original church building on the site was "Destroyed by Enemy Action on 15th / 16th April 1941"


York Road

The impressive mural shown here can be seen on York Road.

On the left it shows Lieutenant Colonel Robert Blair Mayne (He is mentioned in greater detail in this website)

To the right of the Piper are a selection of Regimental Badges as worn my the Irish Regiments of the British Army.

Milltown Cemetery, Belfast - Civilian Mass Grave

The Mass Grave at Milltown is one of Two such Mass graves with the second being a short distance away in Belfast City Cemetery.

You can find this by following the One-Way Traffic System to the bottom close to the Motorway then follow the Path and it is towards the end on your left, with the row of Military Graves which are shown below, on the right.

Sadly there is no number recorded of the people who are buried here. - The picture below shows the full size of this Mass Grave.

The photograph above shows the Headstone of a Mass Grave of unidentified people who were killed during the Belfast Blitz in April 1941.

The wording on the stone says "Sacred to the Memory of Unidentified Victims of Enemy Action Belfast April 1941"

Polish War Graves in Milltown Cemetery

There are a number of Polish Service Personnel buried here.

The Polish Crew of 304 Squadron Wellington Mk14, HF208 are buried here and named below. They were all killed on 21st/22nd December 1943 following an Anti U-Boat Patrol over the Bay of Biscay.

It is thought that the Aircraft was caught in a Snow Storm.

It crashed in flames near Mount Brandon in neutral Eire (Republic of Ireland) and all of the bodies of the Crew were returned to Northern Ireland.

ADAMOWICZ     Klemens     F/Sgt     P-780537

CZERNIEWSKI     Stanislaw     Sgt     P-794362

KOWALEWICZ     Pawel     Sgt     P-703968  

LUGOWSKI     Kazimierz     Sgt     P-703438  

PIETRZAK     Wincenty     Sgt     P-782657  

The final Crew Member is buried in the Jewish Cemetery at Carnmoney and is also photographed on this website.

KUFLIK     Pawel Naftali Hirsz     Sgt     P-794712 
(Squadron Crest shown below is from Wikimedia)

Military Graves in Milltown Cemetery

Shown above is one row of Armed Forces Graves however there are a number of other scattered throughout the Cemetery. Fifty-Two from the Second World War are recorded by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and I am including some of these below.

I believe that some of the Graves relate to the Belfast Blitz.

Shown on the left is the final resting place of William Henry McGennity who was serving as a Rifleman with The Royal Ulster Rifles and at the time of his death was home on Leave.

He died in his home at 75 Holmdene Gardens off Crumlin Road in Belfast.

You can see that the Headstone shown here includes the wording "Also his Daughter Margaret aged 3 killed with him. Lovingly remembered by his Mother and Annie."

The excellent book "The Belfast Blitz" by Brian Barton tells that his Wife Bridget and 16 Months old Son Robert died as well as Margaret.

A Family Wiped Out.

The Headstone shown above right has the names of the following Soldiers of the Pioneer Corps.

Corporal Thomas Keane, Private James Simon Moore and Private James Osben. All of these men are recorded as dying on 5th May 1941 and it is interesting to note that what was known as "The Fire Raid" on Belfast was carried out by the Luftwaffe on the night of 4th / 5th May 1941.

Rifleman Thomas John Leen was serving with the 70th Battalion, Royal Ulster Rifles when he died.

Sergeant Keith Thomas Devery was from Auckland, New Zealand and was serving as a Wireless Operator / Air Gunner with the Royal New Zealand Air Force and was killed in a Flying Accident.

He was a Crew Member on Bristol Beaufort EL131 which had taken-off from Long Kesh at 1420 hours to take part in a training exercise however during this the aircraft carried out a steep turn to the left and lost height rapidly before crashing and bursting into flames approximately 1 mile north of Shields Corner, near Castledawson with no survivors.

Three other Members of the Crew are buried nearby at Belfast City Cemetery.

Private Bernard Donnelly was serving with the Pioneer Corps whilst Rifleman John Hefferlin was serving with 6th Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles.

Warrant Officer First Class James Waclaw Hoba was a Royal Canadian Air Force Pilot and died on 17th July 1943.

Flight Sergeant Richard Kevin Holmes was actually an American who was from Hollywood, California who had joined the Royal Canadian Air Force.

He had been at Number 1 Operational Training Unit and was flying Bristol Beaufort DX 134 on a Map Reading and Air Sea Rescue Training Flight when the aircraft crashed at 18.00 at Church Island bear Bellaghy in County Londonderry.

There were no survivors however the Accident Report states that  “ it seems fairly apparent that the pilot was making a forced landing on open ground, but his approach took him over a church. It seems that to avoid hitting the church spire, he stalled the aircraft at approx 100 feet and crashed in a very steep angle just beyond the church building.” It also stated the “port engine was suspect. The pilot had trimmed the aircraft to fly on starboard engine. Traces of white metal were found in the oil. Engine being inspected.”

Private James Kearney was serving with the Pioneer Corps and was 47 years old when he died.

Private Bernard Moore was serving with 7th Battalion The Gloucestershire Regiment when he died on 20th July 1940 - He was 18 years old.

Corporal John O'Brien was with the Royal Irish Fusiliers when he died on 27th May 1943.

Private Thomas Rafferty was with the Pioneer Corps when he died on 7th November 1940 - He was from Bessbrook in County Armagh and had served during the First World War!

Greaser Charles Reilly was on board S.S. Housatonic which was part of Convoy OB 287. It was a Tanker and the ship was bombed by Luftwaffe aircraft and sunk in the Atlantic Ocean with the loss of 3 Crew.

Fireman William Joseph Robb died on the S.S. Salveda on 19th December 1943. He was 59 years old.

When visiting Milltown Cemetery please remember to spend some time looking around because, as I have said previously, there are a number of WW2 related Graves throughout the Cemetery.

Campbell College British Military Hospital

The School was evacuated in 1940 (The photograph above dates from 1939 and shows Boys practising using Air Raid Shelters which were constructed in the grounds of the School) and the Buildings at the Belmont Campus became Number 24 (London) General Hospital.

The school's Changing Rooms became Operating Theatres and X-Ray Rooms.

Baths were installed in the Classrooms and over 34000 Servicemen were treated here by October 1945.

On the night of 4th / 5th May 1941 the Hospital was bombed by the Luftwaffe causing the deaths of 19 Doctors and Patients.

In February 1946 it was returned to Civilian use as a School and in 2001 the last of the Nissen Huts, which had been erected in the Grounds as Wards, were removed.


A Belgian Soldier who died whilst being treated here is buried in Belfast City Cemetery. He was:-

Private Leon Maton, 23 years, From Brussels. He had been serving with 1st Battalion, 2nd Brigade, Belgian Army and died of Meningitis at Campbell College Military Hospital on 9th March 1945.


Ernest Almoyroc was a member of the French Air Force attached to the British Army in Gambia. He died at Campbell College Military Hospital on 25th September 1940 from a cut eye and Blackwater fever. He was 23 Years old.


German Prisoners of War who were treated and subsequently died at Campbell College Military Hospital include the following who were all buried at Belfast city Cemetery but later in 1962 their bodies were repatriated.


Ober/Kan Wilhelm Dalbeck, a German Soldier, was Prisoner of War A438606. He was held at the Prisoner of War Camp at Jackson Road, Palace Barracks, Holywood and died on 23rd July 1945 when he was 33 years old.


Obergefreiter Wilhelem Jungclaus was a member of the German Navy and Prisoner of War A811180, held at Elmfield Camp, Portadown. He was 42 years old when he died on 27th May 1945.


Obergefreiter August Krienbring was a Prisoner of War at Gosford Castle, County Armagh and had the Number B4246. He was 29 years old when he died on 25th May 1945.


Gefreiter Rudolph Blume had been a P.O.W. (B4534) at Gosford Castle, County Armagh and was 34 years old when he died on 25th May 1945.


Oberfeldwebel Alfred Rinn died on 5th February 1945 from Pulmonary Tuberculosis. He was from Giessen in Germany, was 44 years old and had P.O.W. Number B71040. He had been serving with Ld Schutzenzug 23/1 (x1)


S/Gefreiter Wilhelm Trone died on 7th March 1945. His Prisoner of War Number was B24399 and he was 42 years old.


Obergefreiter Herbert Lisser died on 22nd March 1945. He had served with the Luftwaffe and was 21 years old. He died of Cardiac Failure as a result of War Wounds. Prisoner of War Number A58170


Unteroffizer Gerhard Geier died on 25th March 1945, aged 27 years. He had served in the Luftwaffe and died of a fractured skull. His P.O.W. Number was B19042.


(Photographs from Imperial War Museum and Bodies in Our Backyard Book)


Medical Staff Killed at Campbell College Military Hospital

Lance Corporal John Thomas Harris and Private Kenneth Lawrence Shaw, Both of the Pioneer Corps.

Corporal Leon Guglielmazzi was serving with the Pioneer Corps whilst Sergeant Norman Leslie Seaward was serving with the Royal Army Medical Corps. "Treasured in Life. Lived in Death. Wife and Baby"

Private Herbert Montague Brooker and Major Richard Fowler Ward were both serving with the Royal Army Medical Corps.

Major Edward V. Hemelryk was serving with the Pioneer Corps and it is interesting to note that he has won the Distinguished Service Order.


Donegal Park Avenue

The large house at Number 10 Donegal Park Avenue, Belfast was used by the Naval, Army, Air Force Institutes (N.A.A.F.I.) as a Hostel

(Information from the wartime Telephone Directory)


Donegal Square, Belfast

The Public Toilets at Donegal Square North being transformed into Air Raid Shelters. (From "Old Belfast Photographs")

U.S. Army 3878th Quartermaster Gasoline Supply Company at Lisnabreeny

Lisnabreeny is a particularly interesting place with a number of Sites beside each other.

Directly above the Cemetery and in the centre right of the picture is an Anti-Aircraft Gun Battery.

This was a Heavy Anti-Aircraft Gun Battery which was known as "U.3" and was equipped with three 3.7 Inch (93mm) Mobile Heavy Anti-Aircraft Guns.

Unfortunately nothing remains to be seen of the HAA Battery however this is certainly not the case for 3878th Quartermaster Gasoline Supply Company of the U.S. Army as you can see from my photographs below.

During the war there was racial segregation within the U.S. Armed Forces and this Company is referred to as being "Colored"

A number if items remain at the site including some of the original wire fencing.

The most obvious is a large circular Filter Bed however the original concrete gate posts at the entrance to the Camp are still in position as are a few brick structures, some of which have barrels jammed into them.

Shown here are some of photographs I have taken which can be connected to the old photograph above.

The upper picture with the raised section of metal was between the Filter Bed and the buildings of the Camp in the foreground.

The original concrete entrance pillar shown here is the one on the left in the picture - They appear to have been painted white during the war.

The easily identifyable Filter Bed is shown below.

The two photographs above appear to have been the buildings facing the road.

The items shown above were found at this site. 

Cherry Blosson brown leather boot polish and Mansion Polish along with some other items. (Thanks very much to Peter Graham)

Lisnabreeny American Military Cemetery

There are a selection of very interesting places to visit at Lisnabreeny.

I am sure many people are aware of the old United States Military Cemetery which stood at the top of Rocky Road.

All that was there was the gate into the Field with a small wall on either side and inside the field was the Memorial shown below.

Above you can see how the Lisnabreeny Cemetery used to look however things have changed considerably as shown below.

The Cemetery was opened on 2nd December 1943 and during the time it was operational 148 American Servicemen were buried here.

The Cemetery was closed in November 1947 and all the bodies were exhumed in 1948 and reburied in either the large American War Cemetery in Cambridgeshire or repatriated to the United States.

The photograph on the left shows a Burial ceremony at Lisnabreeny on 6th May 1944. The graves shown on the right are fronted by that of Colonel Joseph Stuart of the General Staff Corps who died on 28th February 1944.

(The picture on the left is from Fold 3 and available to everyone whilst my Thanks goes to Jill and Greg for the photograph on the right)

This is the new Memorial at Lisnabreeny which has the name and rank of every Servicemen who was laid to rest here.

It is probably most fitting to end this item with the comparrison photographs below.

The Black and White photograph was taken in the Cemetery and shows Back Row left to right Kathleen and Mary Close with Evelyn Barnes.

The Front Row is American Soldier Don Fluge, Beth Smith, Ann Close and American Soldier Melton Hale.

(For more information please visit http://www.geograph.ie/photo/3439261 which is the Jim Kane page on the Geograph website and is available to everyone.)

This is Lisnabreeny House which was used by the United States Army during the Second World War as a Headquarters Building. It is now part of a School.


St Annes Cathedral

St Annes Cathedral is a very impressive building which can be visited in Donegal Street in Central Belfast.

You can see from the photograph here that the entire area all around the Cathedral was devastated by the bombing however St Annes remained untouched!

This photograph shows the same area beside St Anne's Cathedral after all of the Bomb Damage had been removed.

My photograph shows the side of the Cathedral which escaped any damage during "The Blitz"

Visitors to the Cathedral will see a number of references to the Second World War and I am showing a few here. The Burma Star Association is a mosaic in the floor and the Burma Star Association Northern Ireland Branch Flag which is laid up in the Cathedral.  (Thanks very much to Vernon Clegg )

The Dunkirk Veterans Association and Memorial to 8th (Belfast) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery can both be seen on the walls of the Cathedral.

The Stars and Stripes in St Anne's Cathedral

Shown here are 2 photographs of the same Unites States of America Stars and Stripes Flag which hangs in St Anne's Cathedral.

A 48 Star flag was presented to the Cathedral by U.S. Consul General, Eric M. Hughes between July 1963 and July 1965 to Commemorate the arrival in Belfast of the first American Troops to set foot in Europe during the Second World War.

The flag had hung in the cathedral for many years until it became too fragile for hanging and needed to be replaced in 1999.

During a Trans-Atlantic flight in recent years Cathedral Volunteer Vernon Clegg spoke with a Lady whose Husband was President of the Boston Historical Society. The flag was discussed and Nancy and Wallace St.John of Saint Stephens, Cohasset, Massachusetts donated a replacement which arrived at the Cathedral within 2 weeks!

This is the flag which now hangs in the Ambulatory of the cathedral. (Thanks very much to Vernon Clegg for the information and Photographs)

49 Hill Street, Belfast

The Gas Meter Manufacturers, Parkinson & Cowan became involved in the assembly of Electrical Harnesses which were for use with Emergency Lights on Lifesaving Equipment on the event of ditching.

This work was carried out in a tiny part of premises at 49 Hill Street which is shown here.

(Thanks very much to Vernon Clegg for this information)

Crumlin Road Gaol

Crumlin Road Gaol was built in 1845 with the design being based on that of Pentonville Prison in London.
In 1940 the prison ship "Al Rawdah" was moored in Strangford Lough near Killyleagh to hold prisoners who were being interned
buring the war however the prisoners were transferred to Crumlin Road Gaol in 1941. During the same year 5 prisoners escaped when a portion of the perimeter wall was destroyed during an air raid.

At first some of the prisoners refused to avail of the Air Raid shelters, due to their republican beliefs, which were provided  within the prison. As the air raids intensified Prison Officers were positioned on the roof of the building to direct fire teams to numerous incendiaries which were falling.

The prison has been closed from the holding of prisoners since 1996 and is now a recommended tourist attraction!!

Boy Scout Messengers

This is a Scout Messenger Service Card from 1941. - They appear to have been providing a Postal Service for the various A.R.P. Warden Posts around Belfast (Many Thanks to Donegal Pass Memories)