The Second World War in Northern Ireland

The Second World War in Northern Ireland

Greater Belfast Part 3

Belfast Blitz Memorial

This simple Memorial can be seen in Shankill Road Cemetery.

The Memorial is built on red brick of the same type which many of the houses in Belfast were constructed from and of which so many were destroyed on the "Darkest Night".

On the left you can see the Headlines of the "Belfast Telegraph" newspaper on 8th April 1941 following the Air Raid. Please look at the Street Scene in the Newspaper and my photograph shows the same scene as it looks today.

****For More "Then and Now" type photographs please click on "Belfast Blitz Then and Now" ****

Luftwaffe Reconnaissance Photographs and Target Details

It is interesting to see the Targets which had been identified my the Luftwaffe for Bombing. Harland and Wolff Shipyard, Sydenham Airfield and Shorts Aircraft Factory are all included.

Shown on the left is the Aircraft Production Building as marked with a "C" on the Luftwaffe Photograph above with an old "Co 2" Marking which has been painted on the wall of this building for the attention of Fire Fighters.

The upper photograph shows that the Luftwaffe have identified the Gas Works for Bombing whilst below this is a Report showing the Targetting of various locations around Belfast. (For more visit

The photograph above shows a very busy Belfast Docks in November 1944 with below showing the Musgrave Channel with lots of shipping (I.W.M. Pictures)

Belfast Blitz Mural, St Aubyn Street, Belfast

32 Carncaver Road

The Brass Plaque shown here marks the fact that James Magennis had lived at this address for a few years.

Sinclair Road

During the War the Pollock Dock was exclusively for Admiralty use and 20 extra Mooring Dolphins were installed on the Eastern side of the Herdman Channel at Sinclair Road for use by the Trawlers used for Convoy Protection.

Templemore Avenue Auxiliary Fire Service Training Exercise

The photographs above show an Auxiliary Fire Service training exercise taking place in Templemore Avenue on 22nd July 1941.

Auxiliary Fire Service Display

Emergency Water Supply Signage.

This sign can be seen painted on the wall of a building at the junction of Montgomery Street and May Street in the City Centre. 

If you look closely at the "Post No Bills" wording you will see a large yellow coloured arrow pointing to the right and in the centre of this below "st No B" can be seen the faint "E.W.S." referring to "Emergency Water Supply"

Stranmillis College

Stranmillis College on Stranmillis Road was used as a Military Hospital.

Army Dental Centre, Belfast

This photograph was taken at the Army Dental Centre in Belfast on 9th January 1942. (I.W.M. Photograph)

Duncairn Gardens Methodist Church

I went to this site with the intention of doing a pair of "Then and Now" type comparison pictures however the architecture did not seem correct and on looking at one of the window sills I found this explaination.

Musgrave Channel Pontoons

These are 3 old Pontoons which are lying in Musgrave Channel between Victoria Park and the George Best Belfast City Airport.

When Flying Boats were launched, a short distance from where the pontoons now lie, from Shorts Aircraft Factory into Musgrave Channel they would not have been fully equipped as a safety feature.

It was only when the Flying Boats were afloat that these pontoons were used to transport all the extra armament and equipment to the aircraft prior to their deployment to active service.

Airport Road / Shorts Aircraft Factory

The 2 photographs above show the same location but from a different angle and at a very different age!

An ideal comparrison picture would be taken from Airport Road immediately beside the slipway as seen in the top picture however I have gone to Musgrave Channel Road on the other side of the water to get an unobstructed view of the slipway.

The small building to the right of the modern picture is the one immediately behind the Sunderland Flying Boats in the original picture.

The view on the left is looking towards the Slipway as it appears today whilst on the right is the old building and Slipway.

The Sunderland in this photograph has been moved from the large building shown above and is being taken to the slipway which is shown in my photograph immediately above.

Here are some photographs of Sunderland W6050 being launched on 10th April 1942.

Sunderland Flying Boats and Stirling Bombers being manufactured side by side and three Sunderlands sitting beside the slipway ready for launching.

The Sunderland in the photograph on the left is being produced for the Royal New Zealand Air Force. (It and the 6 photographs above come from the fantastic Belfast Forum)

This fabulous photograph shows Short Stirling Mk3 BF509 flying over the County Antrim countryside whilst above right are Stirling Bombers under construction.

(Both this and the photograph come from the excellent website

Short Sunderland Flying Boats being manufactured in Belfast. (Photograph on the left from "Fermanagh in the Second World War" by Joe O'Loughlin)

On the right are a number of Sunderland Flying Boats with the cranes of Harland and Wolff Shipyard in the background.

This painting is called "On board an Escort Carrier. Winter dusk in Belfast Harbour. Sunderland Flying Boats" and shows the same general scene as above. (I.W.M. picture) whilst right & below are Damage after the Air Raid on 4th / 5th May 1941.

This is the 1000th Stirling Bomber built by Short & Harland in Belfast.

Part of a Sunderland Flying Boat being transported through central Belfast.

(For more see

The building on the left has the "Short Brothers" sign above the main entrance and can be seen at Airport Road, Belfast.

The building is opposite Victoria Park where there had been an Anti-Aircraft Gun Battery during the War.

Belfast City Airport

What is now George Best Belfast City Airport was previously Royal Air Force Station Sydenham and Royal Naval Air Yard Belfast.
Work on what was to be Belfast Harbour Airport was finished in 1938 with the official opening by Mrs Neville Chamberlain on 16th March of that year.
At the start of the Second World War the airport became R.A.F. Sydenham and was used for training purposes by both the Air Force and Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy who took control of the now Royal Naval Air Yard Belfast in 1943.

The concrete structure shown here is what was known as a "Seagull Trench" and was an Airfield Defensive Structure. The design looks like a seagull in flight and is shaped like the wings of a Stuka Dive Bomber with the hardened shelter in the middle having 2 shelters.

You can see that there would have been wooden bench seeting along the two sides. A good example of this type of structure.

On 5th May 1941 the airfield was bombed and sustained 16 craters on the aerodrome surface with 3 craters on the perimeter track and 16 craters on the outer perimeter track rendering it temporarily unserviceable.

The memorial shown above can be seen at the covered walkway between the main terminal and car park.
The wording is as follows :- "In memory of the men of 804 and 702 Naval Air Squadrons, Based at Sydenham, Belfast between March 1941 and July 1942 which operated Fairey Fulmar and Hawker Sea Hurricane Fighter aircraft from CAM-ships (Catapult Armed Merchantmen) on convoy defence duties during the Battle of The Atlantic"

This photograph shows Sydenham Airfield, Belfast as it looked on 13th November 1945. (Picture from Royal Naval Research Archive)

CAM Ships (Catapult Armed Merchantmen)

The Memorial which can be seen at Belfast City Airport has a design showing an Aircraft sitting on a CAM Ship however this can be better understood by the photographs below.

This is Flight Lieutenant D.R. Turley-George with Flying Officer Fenwick in front of their Hurricane on board the S.S. Empire Tide.

Grumman Hellcat Crash at Sydenham 

This is a Grumman Hellcat which crashed near Gillespie's plant nurseries on the Holywood Road, Belfast.

It was 10th April 1945 and the aircraft had just taken off from Sydenham when it was seen to make a steep turn and dive into an open field.

A child who was playing in the field was killed as the Hellcat crashed and the pilot of the single-seat fighter was severely injured and died an hour later in the military hospital at Campbell College. (More information regarding the Military Hospital can be found on this website)

The Pilot can be identified as Sub Lieutenant Edmund John Hoy, age 27, of the South Africa Naval Forces who had went to Sydenham to collect newly arrived Hellcats. 

This particular aircraft had been allocated to No 892 Squadron which was then re-forming at Eglinton Royal Naval Air Station and was being newly equipped with night fighter variants of the Hellcat.

(Many thanks to Ernie Cromie. Picture from Belfast telegraph)

H.M.S. Caroline

If you use any of the Tour Busses which operate within the City of Belfast I am sure the tour will include a visit to the Dry Dock where the Titanic was built.

This area has a number of items which are of interest to those of you who are Second World War history enthusiasts.
This ship had been H.M.S. Caroline until only recently when she was decommissioned. Until then Caroline had been the oldest Royal Navy ship which remained afloat. The keel was laid on 28th January 1914 and she saw active service from December 1914 including action in The Battle of Jutland.
During the Second World War she acted as a Depot Ship and administrative centre for Convoy Escorts and Armed Trawlers. It was at this time that the current Captains Quarters at the rear of the ship was built for the Commodore responsible for Belfast Harbour.
The ship is now a Museum and well worth visiting!

This is the Admiralty Profile Plan of H.M.S. Caroline as signed in May 1913. (Admiralty photograph)

Royal Visit to H.M.S. Caroline

The King is shown inspecting the Ships Company of H.M.S. Caroline in Belfast in 1942. (I.W.M. Photograph)

"The Oval" Football Ground

On the night of 3rd / 4th May 1941 the Luftwaffe attached a number of targets in the Industrial heart of Belfast. This pillbox was one of the defence positions which were manned by soldiers of the Gloucestershire Regiment who were based at nearby Victoria Park.

A platoon was allocated to "the Oval" and they soon saw a parachute falling with a magnetic mine. The explosion and fire that followed destroyed the main stand.
Amazingly Glentoran Football Club wanted to charge the Army £1 per week for using the pillboxes at the ground however they were given a £1 Per annum deal instead!
Exerpts from "A BOMBER’S MOON"
It was 1940, and across Europe and Africa, World War II had taken hold with vengeance. High above Belfast a solitary German reconnaissance plane was capturing the images of the subdued City below.
The mission of the crew was to plot potential targets for the Kampfgruppe 100 (the elite Luftwaffe pathfinder squadron based in Northern France) who as their name suggested lit up the chosen targets with incendiaries which were in turn bombarded by the heavy ordinance of the following squadrons of the Luftwaffe bomber command.
 The reconnaissance flight returned to Northern France having highlighted a number of potential targets in Belfast. The raids would take place in early Spring of 1941 when the weather would assist the long run in across the Channel and round the Southern tip of England before the final approach over the Irish Sea.
 The Germans established that Belfast was defended by only seven anti-aircraft batteries, which made it the most unprotected city in the United Kingdom. From their photographs, they identified suitable targets:
  • Die Werft Harland and Wolff Ltd
  • Die Tankstelle Conns Water
  • Das Flugzeugwerk Short and Harland
  • Das Kraftwerk Belfast
  • Die Grossmühle Rank & Co
  • Das Wasserwerk Belfast
  • Die Kasernenlagen Victoria Barracks
Significantly though, German intelligence made a huge mistake in identifying the location of Die Tankstelle / Tankanlage Conns Water. The Tankanlage Conns Water was a primary target on the Kamppfgruppe 100 hitlist. Tankstelle means Gas Station (oil storage facility if you like)
Despite all the reports you may have read relating to the Oval being attacked by mistake, the bombs falling short of their intended target or being jettisoned as the Germans headed for home, this photograph shows that German intelligence was wrong, instead of pinpointing the Tankstelle on the Northern side of the tracks the Kampfgruppe 100 bombed target “A” on their photographs, the “A” as can be seen sits right on the Oval and is the primary target as the photograph heading suggests.
On Sunday 4th May 1941 at 2145 hours seven Heinkel bombers from the infamous Kampfgruppe 100 squadron left Northern France and banked left across the English Channel, their final destination Belfast, they were armed not only with incendiary bombs but parachute mines and aerial photographs highlighting their intended targets.
At the controls of of the Heinkel bombers were pilots like Georg Deininger, this would be his second raid on Belfast, his squadron having already delivered death and destruction on the City during the Easter Tuesday raids. Such was the extent of the carnage on that occasion that fire engines came from as far as Dublin, Dundalk and Drogheda to help extinguish the blaze which burned in the City for several days.
Behind Deininger, another 204 Heinkel and Junkers bombers carried 95,992 of incendiaries and 237 tons of high explosive
At 0100 hours on the 5th May 1941 German pilots reported being over the target area of the Belfast Docks and that the weather was perfect. 205 German planes disgorged their cargo onto the shining slate roofs of Belfast. It was indeed a bomber’s moon.
By 0230 hours the whole of the docks area was ablaze, 25 people were to die in a shelter in Avondale Street, 35 houses were destroyed in Witham Street. Damage was widespread and devastating: Belfast Water Commissioners offices; The City Hall; Gallaghers; Bank Buildings; Ulster Arcade; Co-op; Timber Stores; Thorntons; Athletic Stores; Dunville Stores all suffered attacks. York Street Mill was hit again; the Oval was in ruins along with the shipyards and aircraft factory.
Many thanks to those at Glentoran Football Club who have helped me with this information.

Shown here is Thomas Pearson who had played as a Goalkeeper for Glentoran Football Club before joining the Irish Guards.

He is remembered with a Plaque and the documents shown here which can be seen in the foyer of the Grandstand at The Oval.  

Pearson won the Military Medal for action in Tunisia where he was later killed in action during April 1943.
"Quis Separabit"

Connsbank Road Air Raid Shelter

A short distance from "The Oval" stood the building shown here which was at the junction of Connsbank Road and Airport Road facing the entrance to the Bombardier / Shorts Aircraft factory.

Solidly built with protected doorways and a clearly strengthened roof it has all the appearances of an air raid shelter. At each end there appears to be seating however my initial identification of it as a shelter is confused by the fact  that there are windows facing the Victoria park side.

In a position where there was considerable damage during Luftwaffe raids this building would have seen by anyone using the Belfast Sight Seeing Busses as they visit the Harland and Wolff and Short Brothers factories.
Unfortunately when the new Foot Bridge was constructed it was decided to destroy this piece of our History. Rather than simply tidying it up and perhaps adding an informative sign to show what it had been used for yet another of our ever decreasing Air Raid Shelters was destroyed and replaced with........Nothing. Sad.


The Royal Air Force had a Unit known as 226 Maintainance Unit based at Mallusk where they were involved in the salvaging of crashed aircraft. They had a Repair And Salvage Centre at Aldergrove and the Unit was disbanded on 30th April 1946.

Belfast Telegraph Newspaper Building

A short walk along Donegal Place and Royal Avenue will bring you to the Belfast Telegraph newspaper offices and a little plaque which illustrates the spirit which was to be found in Northern Ireland during the Second World war.

It says "The scars on this stone were caused in the German Air raids of the Second World War. Despite severe damage to the building the 'Belfast Telegraph' was published without interuption.
The damage is clearly visible. (Belfast Telegraph photographs)

On 15th April 1941 Auxiliary Fire Service men were called from Malone Avenue  to assist at the L.M.S. Railway Station at York Road which was severely damaged by Bombing.

As they drove past the Belfast Telegraph Offices a Bomb exploded killing two of the men - George Spence and Hugh Castles as well as severely injuring three others.

Mr James Jameson Lee and Mr Clyde Rainey continued with their Fire Fighting duties and were both Commended for Bravery.

See Greater Belfast Part 6 Section for more details.

Seaforde Street / Newtownards Road

The scene of a bomb explosion outside St Matthews Roman Catholic Church at the junction of Seaforde Street and Newtownards Road. (From Belfast Telegraph "Bombs on Belfast)

This happened during the Easter Tuesday Raid on 16th April 1941 and the records of the Belfast Civil Defence Authority show that Patrick Mulholland from 7 Seaforde Street was seriously injured and receiving treatment in the Royal Victoria Hospital. I have also learned that Patrick Duffy, 27 years old from 5 Seaforde Street was killed during this raid.

On visiting the scene and talking to local residents I was able to find damage to the small wall on which the railings are positioned which was caused as a direct result of the bomb.

Queens University

When walking past the University I would ask you to look at the small wall where you can see where the metal railings which had been on top of the wall were cut off and smelted down for use in the war effort.

The pictures above show that the grass areas inside Queens were put to cultivation while the Medical School maintained a regular supply of qualified Doctors to practice locally as well as volunteering for service.

(I would like to thank Marketing & Creative Services, QUB for permission to use these pictures).

Field Marshall Montgomery is shown below meeting Lord Londonderry at the Assembly Hall, Queens University on 14th September 1945. (Belfast Telegraph Photograph)

Drum House

This is the impressive Drum House at Drumbeg which is referred to in detail by Romie Lambkin as mentioned below.

During the war it was used as a base by the Home Guard as well as 602 Motor Transport Company with a number of nissen huts in the grounds.

The front of the house shown here was used as a Parade Ground and Staff Cars would have been parked in line. To the rear of the house was a Vehicle Inspection Pit and bath houses for the troops.

The property is now "Drum House Nursery"

A.T.S. Billets Eglantine Avenue.

The houses at Numbers 4 and 7 Eglantine Avenue were used at Billets for A.T.S. (Auxiliary Territorial Service) women during the war.

They are mentioned in the book "My Time in the War" by Romie Lambkin who served in the A.T.S. and was based there in 1942.

This photograph shows A.T.S. Aircraft Spotters using specially designed chairs on 24th September 1941.

Wandsworth House A.R.P. First Aid Service

The building which was "Wandsworth House" during the Second World War is now Greenwood House Assessment Centre in Greenwood Avenue and unfortunately this was the best picture I could take of the building as it now stands. (Old WW2 picture from "Snapshots of Belfast")

Ulster Hall

During 1939 ARP Volunteers assembled gas masks in the Ulster Hall in Bedford Street.

Carnmoney Cemetery

Carnmoney Cemetery of considerable size and it is a place which illustrates perfectly the efforts and sacrifices of both Men and Women from Northern Ireland during the Second World War whether they be serving in the Armed Forces or Killed in their homes by Luftwaffe Air Raids.

The McFall Family were killed during the Belfast Blitz on the 16th April 1941.

They were a family of FIVE - Joseph who was 43 years old and his Wife Violet who was 41 years old along with their children Sarah 23 years, Martha 19 years and Joseph who was 10 years old.

They were killed in their home at 33 Louisa Street off the Oldpark Road.

George Moore was serving with the Merchant Navy and was only 16 Years Old. He is buried in Algiers, North Africa.

Accidents continue to happen, even when the victim is fighting in a war in a far off land.

Wallace B. McCappin was a sailor aboard H.M.S. Esk which was part of the 20th Destroyer Flotilla and had sailed from Immingham on a mine laying mission.

Aerial reconnaissance had detected German ships and the Flotilla went to intercept however H.M.S. Express struck a mine and was seriously damaged. At this stage H.M.S. Esk, under the command of Lt Commander R.J.H. Couch D.S.C. R.N. went to the assistance of the Express and she also struck a mine.

Within only 15 minutes H.M.S. Esk broke in two and sank with the loss of 135 sailors including Wallace.

The wreck lies 40 nautical miles Northwest of Texel Island, Netherlands.

Sarah Eliza Byrne was killed at 31 Louisa Street, her home address, during the Blitz on 16th April 1941.

She was 56 years old and the Widow of Daniel Byrne.

The significance of the graves of Riflemen Jamieson and Calder is that they may have died together in the same action which is why they are buried side by side. 

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission have a total of 44 graves recorded for this cemetery however this does not include the civilian victims of the German Air Raids or the personel who are recorded on family grave stones.

Denis Henderson Rankin was flying from Lossiemouth, Scotland in Wellington HF816 when it crashed in the Cairngorms at An Lurg with the loss of all crew.

Flight Sergeant George Furney D.F.M. was in 84 Squadron R.A.F. based at Habbaniyah, Iraq and was on a reconnaissance sortie in Blenheim IV L9316 when the aircraft was shot down by a Vichy French MS. 406 with the loss of all three crew members.

Here are the Headstones of two Royal Air Force Aircraftsmen.

John Graham Logan was serving with 949 Balloon Squadron whilst Hugh Beattie was serving with 2738 Squadron, R.A.F. Regiment who were involved in operating Light Anti-Aircraft Guns in the Eastbourne Area.

Walter Stewart was Forth Engineer Officer on the ship S.S. Shelbrit 1 when it was sunk by a mine explosion.

John Andrew Martin was a 51 years old Civilian. He lived with his wife Annie at 27 Percy Street, Belfast and died in his own home when it was bombed by the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) on the night of 15/16 April 1941.

On the night of 4th / 5th May 1941 Robert Alexander Kane was a member of the Merchant Navy and Second Engineer Officer on the Ship S.S. Fair Head. This was a Transport Ship which was moored in Dufferin Dock loaded with military supplies.

There was a Luftwaffe Air Raid, which became known as "The Fire Raid", during which the S.S. Fair Head was struck by a Parachute Mine which broke the back of the ship and killed Robert Kane.


Seymour Hill Mural

This mural at Hornbeam Road was officially dedicated on 1st July 2009 by Colonel Robin Charley as documented in the brass plaque on the Mural.