The Second World War in Northern Ireland

The Second World War in Northern Ireland

Greater Belfast Part 4

Ulster Home Guard, Shandon Park

This photograph shows the Men of the Ulster Home Guard who were based at Shandon Park.

Corporal A. Stewart Dudgeon of A Company, 3rd Battalion U.H.G. can be seen in the third row second from the right. 

(Thanks very much to Mr. Jeffrey Dudgeon) *****PLEASE DO NOT COPY*****

Gilnahirk Secret Wireless Station

During the Second World War there were 3 Full-Time Wireless Listening Stations built around the U.K. including this one near Manns Corner, Gilnahirk.

The original WW2 building (Shown below) has gone with the one shown here having been constructed in the 1950's as a replacement. It was then abandoned since 1978 and was demolished recently for the construction of an appartment complex.

My colour pictures above show the Station prior to being demolished with the Pump House on the left being the only remaining building connected to the station. Beside the Pump House is the capped well shown here from where the water was filtered and pumped to the radio station.

The Radio Security Service later became part of the Composite Signals Organisation, a British worldwide listening organisation controlled by G.C.H.Q.

I am well informed that the first Radio Station at Gilnahirk had direct links to the work of Bletchley Park, The Sinking of the Bismarck and Plan Fortitude. The system was created by a network of 29 steel towers surrounding the complex which were grouped together in various ways to create radio aerials for interception.

In 1938 it was suspected that the Abwehr (German Military Intelligence) was recruiting agents throughout the United Kingdom who would use radio to remain in contact with Germany.
The Illicit Wireless Intercept Organisation was created to intercept such messages and 3 Listening Stations were created at Thurso in Scotland, St Erth near St Ives in Cornwall and at Gilnahirk.
The Radio Security Service became responsible for this role however due to the huge task it was hindered by a lack of both equipment and operators however ingenuity prevailed and an approach was made to the Radio Society of Great Britain in the hope that they could assist.
With their membership throughout the U.K. and the members having their own equipment this was a masterstroke.
Members of the Society were approached individually and sworn to secrecy. Following a test of their capability with Morse Code they were recruited as “Voluntary Interceptors” if successful and were required to spend 2 hours in 24 hour cycles monitoring specific radio frequencies which were allocated to them.
Everything which was heard was transcribed on Log Sheets which were posted by the operator to a P.O. Box address in Barnett. They were then recorded, sorted and cross referenced at Oakley View before being sent to the Decoders at Bletchley Park.
From 1942 The Radio Station at Gilnahirk was operated by Military Personnel and direction finding equipment was utilised in an attempt to establish compass bearings from where any incoming radio signals originated.
The wartime operation of Gilnahirk Radio Station finally came to an end in January 1946.
LATER USE
The last two photographs above illustrate that this Station remained operational long after the end of WW2.
The Asbestos Fire Blanket, Which appears to be Armed Forces issue due to the "Crows Foot" logo is dated 1967 and the Plessey Intruder Detection System shown beside it would date from the 1980's.

I received this Radio Ham Card from Mr Kerr who was one of the secret Listeners. Unfortunately there is no date on the card however it would have been in the early 1970's.

The Station has now been converted into Apartments and it is pleasing to note that the original shape of the building remains - As can be seen below.

The Address is "Gilly Court Manor" which retains the "Gilly" Name and the two plaques shown here can be seen on the entrance pillars.

Battle of Britain Mural, Beverley Street


This Mural was produced to mark the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain. 

It refers to the Polish Squadrons who were based for a time in Northern Ireland.


Belfast Blitz Mural, Northumberland Street.

The painting below can be seen immediately beside the Battle of Britain one shown above.

Blitz Rubble on the Shore Road

The black and white photograph shows rubble from blitzed properties being dispersed at Shore Road near the junction with Donegal Park Avenue. 

The pictures I have taken show the same position with the two bungalows on Shore Road and then the 4 Houses along Donegal Park Avenue which are clearly seen in the background. (Belfast Telegraph photograph)

Ballynascreen House, Shore Road

Shown below are Blackboards which were used by Belgian Soldiers.

One of the boards shows a Duty Rota "Wacht van 30 op 31-8-1945" and identifies a few Belgian Soldiers, PO Van Rintel, Korp Van Lieu and Sold Van Belle.

Ballynascreen House had been purchased by the Belfast Hospital for Sick Children in 1939 however they did not use the building and sold it after WW2.

Research shows that some of the Belgian names on this Blackboard were members of 3rd Battalion,3rd Infantry Brigade of the Belgian Army.

Do you have any information regarding Belgian Soldiers using Ballynascreen House?

If so then please email me at the address shown below. (Thanks very much to Alan Hazlett for the pictures)

Belfast Harbour Commissioners Building

The Harbour Commissioners Building has a few interesting items on display. 

There is the Second World War Roll of Honour listing the names of all the Employees who Volunteered for Active Service during the War as well as the Personal Message of Thanks from Field Marshall Alexander for the actions of M.V. Ulster Prince which had served as a Hospital Ship, Troop Ship and Hospital Carrier.

This painting of H.M.S. Caroline was presented to the Harbour Commissioners.

Dunmurry

Seymour House, which is currently sheltered dwellings operated by B.I.H.A. had a Laundry in the Upper Yard which was used by approximately 100 women and children who had been evacuated from Belfast in 1941 / 1942.

During the Second World War there was racial segregation within the United States Military and there was a Military camp of Coloured American Soldiers based at Ballybog Road, Seymour Hill where the school now stands beside the site of the old Conway hotel.

Wilmont House

Situated in the very pleasant surroundings of Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park is Wilmont House.

On 22nd January 1942 the U.S. Special Observer Group Code named "Magnet" set up its Corps Headquarters at Wilmont House under Commanding General M.G. Chaney. This was a General Supply Depot known as "G-10"
I believe this building is now vacant. (WW2 Photograph from "After The Battle" Magazine)

Park Lodge

Park Lodge on the Antrim Road in Belfast was used as a Training Ground for members of the Northern Ireland Civil Defence Corps

Belfast Castle

The plaque shown here can be seen in the foyer of Belfast Castle which was used as Headquarters for the Flag Officer Commanding the Royal Navy between 1941 and 1946. 

An interesting reference to Second World war in an impressive building with a 200 acre estate. - Among the Units based here during the War was Number 12 Wireless Interception Screen (W.I.S.) of the Royal Air Force who arrived on 17th December 1940 on transfer from R.A.F. Aldergrove.
When here visitors should consider the B-17 which crashed on the hill above and is marked by a monument at the nearby Belfast Zoo (Which you can see on this website)

Ravenhill Road Air Raid Shelter

This Air Raid Shelter is at the side of the Elim Church on Ravenhill Road.

Mount Charles

This is Numbers 18 - 20 Mount Charles only a short walk from Queens University.

During the war this address was United States Army Transportation Corps Headquarters. (First picture from "After The Battle" Mag)

Helen Lewis, Holocause Survivor, The Crescent

Helen Lewis was born in Trutnov, Czechoslovakia in 1916.

Czechoslovakia was invaded by the Germans on 15th March 1939 and a few years later in August 1942 she was taken to the Terezin Concentration Camp before being sent to Auschwitz in 1944. Fortunately for Helen and many others she was alive when Auschwitz was liberated.

Having visited both I am able to show photographs of first Terezin and then Auschwitz.

Above is the main entrance to Terezin Camp with the second picture showing an inner Courtyard.

Below is one of the Rooms where prisoners were kept and, as with other Camps, Terezin had its own Mortuary and Crematorium as shown below.

Having survived Terezin Helen found herself in Auschwitz

This first photograph is at the infamous "Selection Ramp" which is on the left of the picture. The view is looking back towards the entrance into Auschwitz Birkenau.

Here is one of the grim Accommodation Blocks and on the right is the electrified fence which means certain death for anyone who touches it. My final photograph below is of one of the Gas Chambers which was blown-up prior to the liberation by Russian Soldiers.

Emma Sylvia Duffin V.A.D. Commandant, University Square

This Blue Plaque can be seen at 29 University Square which became home to Emma Duffin.

Emma had been a Nurse with a Voluntary Aid Detachment during the First World War and throughout this time she wrote journals regarding what she was doing and seeing.

She had initially been in Egypt tending wounded from the Gallipoli battle before transferring to Military Hospitals in Le Havre and Calais.

With the beginning of the Second World War Emma was appointed Commandant of the Voluntary Aid Detachment Nurses who were based at Stranmillis Military Hospital.

Once again she retained a detailed Journal including information relating to the Easter Tuesday Blitz on Belfast.

At one stage she refers to being at St Georges Market which was being used to store dead bodies in the hope that they could be identified by Next of Kin.

“I had seen many dead (in WWI), but they had died in hospital beds, their eyes had been reverently closed, their hands crossed on their breasts; death had been glossed over, made decent. Here it was grotesque, repulsive, horrible. Death should be dignified, peaceful. Hitler had made even death grotesque.” 

(For more please visit  http://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/belfast-blue-plaque-honour-for-nurse-who-kept-diaries-in-both-world-wars-1-7853045)

American Soldiers in Cromwell Road

This is Corporal Charley Lane, from Fort Worth Texas, standing in Cromwell Road, Belfast. Note that there is an Air Raid Shelter immediately behind him. 

Standing outside number 24 Cromwell Road is Private First Class Arthur Beck. 

These photographs were taken in March 1944 and appear in the book "Pardon Me Boy". 

Ulster Hospital at Templemore Avenue, Glenmore Street

Bomb damage sustained by the Ulster Hospital along with my photograph of the site as seen from Glenmore Street. (Belfast Telegraph Photographs)


Ulster Home Guard on Parade along Ormeau Avenue

United States Army Salvage Establishment

This old Factory between Rydalmere Street and Empire Street off the Donegal Road was used by the U.S. Army as a "Salvage Establishment" from 12th June 1942.

The Blue sign is an old Fire Hydrant Plate to advise Fire Fighters that there is a Fire Hydrant to which they can attach their hoses within the distance shown.

Also carved in the brickwork is "J.B. 1939" - Dating from before the Americans arrived.

"Wings For Victory" High Street

Here are Royal Air Force Short Stirling and Handley-Page Halifax Bombers in High Street, Belfast during "Wings For Victory" week in 1943. (I.W.M. Photo)


Royal Ulster Rifles on Parade in High Street.

This part of Belfast changed considerably since the first picture was taken in 1942.

The Albert Clock is behind the flowers in the second picture. (From Snapshots of Belfast)

A.T.S. Soldiers leaving St Malachy's Chapel, Alfred Street

This photograph shows Auxiliary Territorial Service soldiers leaving St Malachy's after a Service in 1943 with my photograph showing the same location today.

(Old photograph from "Snapshots of Belfast")


Far East Veterans on Parade at Belfast City Hall

Dated 1945 this photograph shows Soldiers who had served in the Far Eastern Campaign marching past Belfast City Hall.

Anderson & McAuley Air Raid Shelter

This picture shows an Entrance to an Air Raid Shelter in the Basement of the Anderson & McAuley Shop in Central Belfast. (Photograph from "Snapshots of Belfast")

Incident in Granville Dance Hall, 185 Donegal Street

The black door is access to the Dance Hall and still has an old 185 number on the top left. The next picture shows the Dance Hall and the dates on top of the building show it was built in the 1930's

Large Army Billet in Donegal Street

This considerable building has the address of 138 - 140 Donegal Street and had been Marshes Biscuit Factory but during the war it was identified by "W.B.S. Troop Allocations Northern Ireland District" to house 630 Troops.

Belfast Blitz Memorial, Hogarth Street.

This excellent Mural relates to the Belfast Blitz and can be seen in Hogarth Street in the Tiger's Bay area of North Belfast.

The Memorial beside the Mural is shown here and lists the names of the people of the Tiger's Bay area who lost their lives on the night of 16th / 17th April 1941.

The names include three families, each consisting of EIGHT people who were killed.

The ages of the Wilson family victims were 1, 3, 6, 7 (Twins), 32, 37 and 72.

Percy Street Murals

On the night of 15th / 16th April 1941 the Germans carried out a Major Air Raid on Belfast. A large number of people had taken shelter in an Air Raid Shelter in Percy Street and sadly it was hit by a bomb causing the roof to collapse killing many of those who were inside.

Hightown Starfish Decoy Sites 1 and 2

This is a very interesting site as it has not the usual one but two Bunkers built in close proximity into the side of the hill.

The building consists of one room with an escape hatch to which there would have been a metal ladder which has since been removed. The entrance is a wooden door within protected access including the blast wall across the front as can be seen here.

Site 2 is slightly different  in shape to the previous one in that this site has been built sideways into the hill.

The blast wall which covered the entrance has fallen over showing access to the single room.

Site 1 is shown both above and below left with site two below right.

Knockbreda Cemetery

A number of Servicemen are buried in Knockbreda Cemetery. Only a few are shown here.

Sergeant Flight Engineer Thomas Lynass Dickie was serving with 196 Squadron, R.A.F. and was on a Bombing Mission to Kassel in Sterling Bomber EF464.

The aircraft was attacked by Night Fighters resulting in Engine Damage and it subsequently crashed in Norfolk.

Sergeant Flight Engineer James Alexander Peel was serving with 97 Squadron R.A.F. and was on a mission to Berlin in Lancaster 1 W4175.

The aircraft was airborne at 2151 on 29th March from Woodhall Spa but later crashed at 0445 on 30th March at Conningsby.

Sergeant Pilot Sydney Ireland was serving with 610 Squadron, Royal Air Force.

His Spitfire P9502 lost control in a dive during Dogfight Practice and he crashed at Titsey Park

Able Seaman Samuel James Graham served on H.M.S. Rodney while Flying Officer Rodgers was killed in a Flying Accident when he was on an Air Test and Dual Instruction Non Operational Flight in Anson N5105.

There was a collision with a Mosquito aircraft from 333 Norwegian Squadron which was being piloted by Lt Commander Ofendor who was Officer In Charge of the Squadron.

This Cemetery also holds some of the Civilians who were killed during the "Blitz" and here is the final resting place of Ralf Long, who was an Air Raid Warden along with his Wife Margaret Jane and sons Robert and Albert. All of this family died at 175 Cliftonpark Avenue, Belfast.

Sergeant Harold Christopher Moorby was serving with 502 Squadron R.A.F. and was one of the first fatalities to be suffered by the Squadron when on 19th January 1940 he was aboard Avro Anson N5050/B which was being flown by Flying Officer Garrett.

The aircraft crashed on the foreshore four miles east of Rhyl when Flying Officer Gattett lost control in a snowstorm.

Sergeant Moorby died instantly with the three other Crew members being injured - McClure and Beattie later died of their injuries.

2nd Lieutenant William Laurence Megaw was serving with Somerset Light Infantry attached to the 1st Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

He died on 18th February 1943 and is named on the Rangoon Memorial in Burma.


Carnmoney Hill

There was a "Starfish" Bombing Decoy site positioned at the top of Rock View Lane. From Prince Charles Way the Crews went onto Glebe Road then first right to the top of the lane.

The purpose of this site was to have fires deliberately lit in an attempt to confuse enemy Bomber Crews into believing that this was their target rather than the built up city of Belfast.

"The Defence of Britain" Project overlay on Google Earth identifies a building at the end of Rock View Land as being the Control Bunker.

Houston Park and Orangefield Military Hospital

The two photographs above show Houston Park, Belfast is it looked in 1941 and as it looks now.

In the first picture you can see a row of Oil Burners along the left side of the road - These were used to burn Oil so that a Smoke Screen was formed in an attempt to disrupt German Bombers.

The close proximity of Orangefield School is probably relevant as this was used as a Military Hospital during the war. - The lower picture shows the old Orangefield House. (From Old Belfast Photographs)


Two German Prisoners of War who Died at Orangefield Military Hospital were buried at Belfast City Cemtery

Ober-Maat Rudolf Schwartz had served with the Kriegsmarine. His Prisoner of War Number was A939273.

He was 53 years old when he died and was interred on 1st June 1945.

Obergefreiter Friedrich Selbach was in the German Army and from Bonn. He was 38 years old when he died and was buried on 28th July 1945.

Both of these men were subsequently exhumed in July 1962 and re-buried at Cannock Chase, Staffordshire,England. 

Musgrave Park Hospital

This is part of Musgrave Park Hospital in South Belfast which was taken over on 21st May 1942 by 5th General Hospital, U.S. Army. - It had previously been operated by the 31st British General Hospital who had moved into the building which had been "Balmoral Protestant Male Industrial School".

This was also a General Supply Depot known as "G-10-6" Sorry for my poor photograph however I hope it shows that some of the old building still remains.

Shown on the left is Colonel Thomas Lanman, Chief of Surgery, 5th General Hospital with Colonel Angus Hedley-White who was Commanding Officer of the British 31st General Hospital. They are shown walking in the grounds of Musgrave Park Hospital.

To the right is The Fifth General Hospital in Belfast during 1942.

First row, left to right: Saxon, Kendall, Badger, Keeler, Matron Major Sinclair, Lanman and Zollinger.  

Second Row: Strock, Emerson, Brewster, White, Dunphy, Pratt, Wenzel and Quigley.  

Third Row: Simeone, Saunders, Baldwin, Hazard, May, Smedal, unidentified, Cavanaugh, Freedman.  Fourth Row: Hill, Burchenal, Cogdell, Dimmler, Light and Carney.  

Top:  Tanner. Warren. (From the Ulster Medical Society Journal 14th July 2005)

Above are Elliott Carr Cutler with Major Robert  M Zollinger and Major J Engelbert Dunphy at Musgrave Park Hospital in 1942.

To the right is a letter dated 12th December 1942 stating that Major Robert Zollinger had been appointed to the British Medical Research Council War Wounds Committee.

It is interesting to note that the address on this letter gives the Army P.O. number.

( From the Ulster Medical Society "American Surgeons at Musgrave Park Hospital in World War II: Surgical Giants" by John Hedley-Whyte, Debra R. Milamed Accepted: 18th October 2015 )

Prisoner Of War Camp - Knock

The present site of Police Headquarters at Knock was used as a Prisoner Of War Camp however all evidence has long since been removed.

St Georges Market - Temporary Mortuary

Much is made of the terrible blitz on the City of Coventry however, due to a lack of Air Defence and sufficient Air-raid shelters it was sadly the City of Belfast which suffered the most civilian fatalities in one raid which took place on the night of 15 - 16th April 1941.

Approximately 900 people lost their lives with 255 bodies being removed to a temporary Mortuary at St George's Market at Oxford Street / Albertbridge Road / May Street.

Of those brought to St Georges 151 were successfully identified and from this number 92 were taken by relatives and friends for burial.

The Falls Road Swiming Baths was also used as an Emergency Mortuary. The water was drained from the bath and rows of bodies were lined up for identification. - After a time when some bodies remained unidentified their personal possessions were checked and if there was any item to prove the victim was a Roman Catholic then they were interned in a Mass Grave in Milltown Cemetry. If not then they were interned in the Belfast City Cemetry. - Both of these Mass Graves are illustrated on this website.

College Square East Barrage Balloon

Shown above left is a Barrage Balloon anchored in the grounds of the Royal Belfast Academical Institution at College Square East in central Belfast. My photograph to the right shows the same location as it looks now.

Immediately above is an article from "The War Illustrated" dated 1st November 1940 which illustrates how such a Barrage balloon in operated. (The War Illustrated)


Grove Park Anti-Aircraft Gun Position

The Anti-Aircraft Guns which were positioned in Grove Park were described as being "Built on a cliff edge on the southern side of the park" 

The markings on the ground in that area are shown here where they look towards York Road and the Harbour Estate.

My suspicion is that here is where the guns were located.

A.T.S. in Henry Place.

Shown below are A.T.S. marching along Henry Place from Victoria Barracks. My picture shows the same location today.

Funeral of Sergeant Harold Moorby, Diamond Gardens, Finaghy

The two black and white photographs below show the Funeral of Sergeant Harold Christopher Moorby, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, making it's way along Diamond Gardens, Finaghy.

Sergeant Moorby had been a crew member on board R.A.F. Anson N5050 which had taken off from Hooton Park Airfield in Cheshire, England on 19th January 1940 to carry out Convoy Escort Duties.

There was a Snow Storm and control of the Aircraft was lost. It crashed at Rhyl on the Northeast coast of Wales.

All the 4 Crew members were killed with two being buried in Scotland while Leading Aircraftsman Thomas Christopher McClure, who was also from Belfast, is buried in Belfast City Cemetery. (Pictures from "Snapshots of Belfast")

Cliftonville Integrated Primary School

On the Cliftonville Road was opened in October 1938 as the Boys Model School.

During the Easter Tuesday 1941 Air Raid the A.R.P. Post at Cliftonville Avenue suffered major damage when the walls collapsed.

A temporary A.R.P. Post was then set up in Boys Model School


The American Red Cross Club, Chichester Street.

The American Red Cross Club was in what was known as The Plaza Ballroom in Chichester Street in Belfast City Centre.

The old building has been demolished but the one which has replaced it is now known as the Plaza Building.

(Pictures below are from the Book "From Belfast Lough To D-Day" and Memory Lane Ards and Bangor website.) Click on http://www.ardsbangor.com/Index_Dancehalls.htm for more details.

Below is the 168th Infantry Swing Band of the United States Army playing for British and American Troops in June 1942. (From the book "Home Away From Home)

On the right is the Cartoon painted by Dick Wingert in the American Red Cross Club in Belfast.

(This picture is from Life Magazine and more information and pictures can be seen in Life Magazine dated 8th February 1943)

The Dancing in the American Red Cross Club at the Plaza Ballroom is from "After The Battle" Magazine.

American Servicemen are shown teaching Northern Ireland girls "The Conga" in 1942. (Rex Photograph)

It is important to note that this building was also used by the British Navy, Army and Air Force Institute (N.A.A.F.I.)