Northern Ireland's Commitment to the War Effort
In October 1939 there were 2500 persons from Northern Ireland who joined the Armed Forces however this had reached a total of 38000 during the years of the Second World War.
This is a considerable effort when you remember that EVERY ONE WAS A VOLUNTEER as, unlike the rest of the United Kingdom there was NO conscription in Northern Ireland.
Here we see a Queue of Recruits waiting to Join at the Recruiting Office at "Hanover House", 38 - 42 Clifton Street in central Belfast. (Picture from Bodies in Our Backyard Book)
The Abercorn Barracks at Ballykinlar and Gough Barracks in Armagh were both expanded with new barracks being constructed at Lisburn (Thiepval) following the purchase by the War Office of the old Magheralave House and its considerable estate as well as Ballymena (St Patricks)
The picture here shows the clocktower in Palace Barracks.
Belfast Docks and R.A.F. Aldergrove were also expanded.
At the time of the declaration of war in 1939 there were only 3 airfields in Northern Ireland however a huge expansion program increased this number to a total of 26 in 1945!!
Production of Materials
Northern Ireland is mostly countryside with only a few cities.
Farming was one of the main efforts of the nation where production was seen to be increased in categories as follows :-
Potatoes - 864,000 Tons 1,285,000 Tons
Flax Acreage 21.2000 124.5000
Warship Production in Belfast
Harland and Wolff Shipyard and production of two new Carriers, H.M.S. Magnificent (On the left of the three) and H.M.S. Powerful in the centre with a Cruiser on the Stocks to the right. (I.W.M. Photographs)
H.M.S. Campania. Built in Belfast and saw active service in the Atlantic and Arctic theatres. (Royal Navy Photograph)
This picture shows some of the original Harland and Wolff Gates.
Interestingly the two huge cranes which are now at Harland and Wolff were manufactured by the Krupp Company .......Who were a major German Armament Manufacturer!
Shown here is a list of the ships built by Harland & Wolff in Belfast
1939 - 3
1940 - 30
1941 - 22
1942 - 21
1943 - 29
1944 - 23
1945 - 17
These ships went in size from the 227 ton Twin Screw Motor Landing Craft up to 28095 ton Aircraft Carrier "Formidable"
This picture shows Harland and Wolff Shipyard following the Air Raid of 4th / 5th May 1941. (Belfast Telegraph picture)
Interestingly Harland & Wolff produced a total of 550 Tanks between August 1939 and November 1943.
These were of various types including Matilda, Churchill and Centaur.
Shown above is a Centaur Tank below which is a Churchill Tank. This particular Churchill is one of "Hobart's Funnies" and is a Petard which was used to hurl a huge mortar (Referred to as a "Flying Dustbin) at Casemates.
The Short & Harland factory in Belfast was a busy place and "Shadow Factories" in other parts of the country at Newtownards and Lisburn were soon involved in production.
The aircraft built included:-
50 Bristol Type 130 Bombay Twin engined Bomber Transport aircraft.
150 Hadley Page HP-53 Hereford Twin Engined Bombers. These first flew in 1939 and entered service with the Royal Air Force in 1940.
Some of the Hereford Bombers were later converted to become Hampden Bombers
Stirling 4 Engine Bomber which entered service with the Royal Air Force in August 1940 as the first 4 engined bomber of the Second World War. Over 1300 Stirlings of various types were built in Belfast. The Stirling was known by aircrew as having a pronounced torque factor. With the propellers turning the aircraft had a tendency to swing to port requiring the pilot to correct by use of rudders and opening on the port engines before the starboard engines!
Almost 750 Sunderland Flying Boats were constructed. These were 4 engined long range reconnaissance, patrol and anti-Submarine aircraft which entered service with the R.A.F. in mid 1938.
Inside the Cockpit of a Sunderland and the all-important Bomb Sight. - Note the "Extremes of Movement" sign!
(Thanks to Ed Luke for these pictures).
At the outbreak of the Second World war the R.A.F. had 3 Squadrons of Sunderland aircraft!
James Mackie & Sons started producing Bofors gun Shells in 1938 (A Bofors Gun is shown above) as well as the manufacture of Hand Grenades and the production of lathes for the maufacture of munitions.
Munitions Workers being trained in the Belfast Municipal College of Technology. (Picture from Belfast Telegraph)
Sirocco Engineering Works produced Tank Gun Mountings as well as radar Equipment and more Hand Grenades.
Belfast Ropeworks made huge amounts of twine available which was then put to good use in a number of items including Camouflage Nets, Cargo Nets, Boom Defence nets and Rocket Lines etc etc.
Throughout Northern Ireland Industry was pushing forward with a wide variety of items required for the war effort.
Filling Bullet Cases with Powder in Lurgan
The picture above shows Camouflage Netting being made at Montalto Estate in Ballynahinch.
The Shirt Factories of Londonderry produced up to 15 million uniform shirts per year and it was common for the girls working in the factories to leave a message in a pocket of the shirt as a surprise for the wearer - The wording would have been such as :-
"This shirt was made by an Ulster Lass
Whose lips were made for kissing.
So hurry-up and win this War
You don't know what your missing!"
The Frazer & Haughton Factory in Cullybackey made bullets and there was also a munitions factory inside Belfast Technical College as well as at Dickson's Factory,
Milltown, Dungannon some of the staff of which are shown below.
Linen Manufacture was changed to making items such as Aircraft Wing Fabric - (Each Wellington Bomber required 1000 yards of linen!), Parachute harness and Gun Covers.
Shown above are Shells being Pressed, Marked and Numbered.
Nicholson & Bass Factory in Alfred Street, Belfast as well as Factories in Banbridge and Bangor produced jettisonable Aircraft Fuel Tanks. Walkers linen factory in Banbridge produced "Tent Duck" for the production of both tents and aircraft.
Shown above is one of the Aircraft Drop Tanks which were made from compressed paper so as not to provide the enemy with valuable metal. - This one is on display at the Ulster Aviation Society building at Long Kesh.
The picture below shows a load of these Drop Tanks at the Nicholson & Bass Factory.
There was a Torpedo factory in County Antrim.
Tank Landing Craft were built in Warrenpoint by the Smith and Pearson Company.
Stanley Motor Works in Orangefield, Belfast produced Aircraft Components for Shorts.
The R.F.D. Company in Dunmurry produces rubber Life Rafts and the mills in Lisburn produced parachutes.
These are workers in Combe Barbour and Ewarts on the Crumlin Road, Belfast working on the manufacture of Artillery shells. (Pictures from Belfast Telegraph)
Northern Ireland certainly played its part!!
The above items are from "The War Illustrated" (The War Illustrated)
This mural relates to the building of H.M.S. Belfast and can be seen on a gable wall in Belfast.
In 1940 Number 968(Balloon) Squadron was formed in Bishopbriggs, Scotland before moving to Belfast on 12th September 1940 with Number 920 Squadron in Londonderry
The Belfast Squadron had 5 Flights with a total of 16 Balloons, 8 of which were waterbourne.
Bangor had waterborne balloons.
H.M.S. FORMIDABLE - The ship that launched itself!
I have mentioned above that the Aircraft Carrier H.M.S. Formidable was built by Harland and Wolff however there is more to this story!
The ship was to be launched by Lady Wood who was the wife of the Secretary Of State for War Sir Kingsley Wood in the East Yard.
About half an hour before the designated time for launch the Harland & Wolff Chairman and Managing Director Mr F.E. Rebbeck was explaining to Mrs Wood how the launching mechanism would operate when there was a loud cracking of wood.
Suddenly the ship started to move and Lady Wood ran forward to smash the bottle on the ships bow before it slid out of reach.
This was a serious situation and workers had to jump to safety out of the way of the ship as lumps of wood from the keel blocks went flying through the air killing one woman spectator with a blow to the head and injuring a number of others in the crowd of thousands who had turned up to watch the launch.
Independent R.A.F. Headquarters Northern Ireland.
An independent Royal Air Force Headquarters for Northern Ireland was authorised in 1940 and the Group, known as 61 Group was formed on 6th July 1940.
It took over the Dunlambert Hotel in Belfast as H.Q. R.A.F. N.I. on 6th August with the Air Officer Commanding being Air Commodore C.R. Carr D.F.C. A.F.C.
From Belfast Lough to Normandy on D-Day
I have compiled here a list of some of the Allied Ships which gathered in Belfast Lough prior to departing for the Allied Invasion of Occupied Europe on 6th June 1944.
HMS Hawkins cruiser
HMS Glasgow cruiser
HMS Black Prince cruiser
HMS Enterprise cruiser
HMS Bellona cruiser
HMS Empire McAndrew
HMS Erebus monitor
USS Arkansas battleship
USS Texas battleship
USS Nevada battleship
USS Quincy cruiser
USS Tuscaloosa cruiser
USS Baldwin destroyer
USS Saterlee destroyer
USS Jeffers destroyer
USS Gherardi destroyer
USS Glennon destroyer
USS Plunkett destroyer
USS Amesbury destroyer
USS Blessman destroyer
USS Butler destroyer
USS Herndon destroyer
USS Schubrick destroyer
USS Murphy destroyer
Georges Leygues cruiser
Details of Allied Aircraft based in Northern Ireland which crashed in Neutral Republic of Ireland
Date Aircraft Type Squadron Based At Crashed Fatalities
21-12-1940 Blenheim 272 Sqn Aldergrove Slidrum Nil
4-1-1941 Whitley 502 Sqn Aldergrove Glenard 3
10-4-1941 Lerwick 201 Sqn Lough Erne Bundoran Nil
11-4-1941 Wellington 221 Sqn Limavady Fort Dunree 6
30-11-1941 Spitfire 133 Eagle Sqn Eglinton Glenshinny Nil
19-4-1942 Blenheim 143 Sqn Aldergrove Buncrana Nil
17-7-1942 Beaufort 5 O.T.U. Long Kesh Ballyness Strand Nil
13-8-1942 Liberator 120 Sqn Ballykelly Sea off Malin Head All
12-9-1942 Wellington 7 O.T.U. Limavady Lough Foyle Nil
29-10-1942 Hampden 5 O.T.U. Long Kesh Ballybofey Nil
26-11-1942 Spitfire 501 Sqn Ballyhalbert Stranorlar Nil
2-1-1943 Wellington 7 O.T.U. Limavady Lough Foyle 6
27-2-1943 Wellington 7 O.T.U. Limavady Falcarragh All
18-3-1943 Liberator 86 Sqn Aldergrove Tallan Nil
14-12-1943 Harrow 271 Sqn Eglinton Moville 4
19-6-1944 Liberator 59 Sqn Ballykelly Glengad 8
19-6-1944 Liberator 59 Sqn Ballykelly Shrove Hill 8
13-7-1944 Liberator 120 Sqn Ballykelly Into sea off Inishtrahull 4
12-8-1944 Sunderland 422 Sqn R.C.A.F. Castle Archdale Near Belleek 3
6-9-1944 Sunderland 423 Sqn R.C.A.F. Castle Archdale Donegal Bay 9
14-3-1945 Sunderland 210 Sqn Castle Archdale Killybegs 12
14-3-1945 Hurricane 1402 Sqn Aldergrove Moville Nil
24 – 6-1945 Martlet 891 Sqn Eglinton Greencastle Nil
It should be noted that because of the Republic of Ireland deciding not to fight the Nazi’s and declare themselves as a neutral nation all allied personnel who crashed there would find themselves likely to be interned for the duration of the war.
Following a request from Britain to the Republic of Ireland’s Government what became known as the ‘Donegal Corridor’ was established.
Permission being granted by the Irish for Allied aircraft to overfly their neutral territory “At a good height” for access to and from the Northern Ireland airfields from the Atlantic Ocean.
This small gesture was of huge significance to the Allied War Effort considering that it cut a considerable distance off the lengths that aircraft patrolling the North Atlantic were required to travel thus increasing both range and time on site.
It was agreed to keep this arrangement as secret as possible and British aircraft first availed of the ‘Corridor’ in February 1941.
The plaque shown above can be seen on the Bridge at Belleek facing the famous Belleek Pottery in County Fermanagh.
Northern Ireland Defence Lines.
Northern Ireland was divided up into a number of defence lines which were to be used in the event of invasion.
These were as follows:-
Lines A and B – Followed the line of the River Bann from the North Coast through Lough Neagh and continuing to Portadown and the Newry Canal.
Line C surrounded the City of Belfast and stretched along the North Down Coastline as far as Groomsport.
Lines D and E were concentrated to the North of Belfast
Lines F and G were to the South of Belfast
Line H was concentrated around Belfast Harbour Estate.
The people of Antrim adopted the Royal Navy ship H.M.S. Emerald during the war!
A.R.P. Districts in Belfast
The Air Raid Precautions Wardens in Belfast were divided into the following Civil Defence Districts
A - Belfast City Centre
B - West Belfast, Falls and Shankill
C - Crumlin Road and Oldpark
D- Antrim Road and Carlisle Circus
E- East Belfast
F - South Belfast, Lisburn Road and Ormeau Road
G - York Street, York Road and the Docks
H - The Harbour Estate
The Defence Medal
This was awarded to British and Commonwealth Forces as well as a selection of civilian services and organisations who had 3 years service during the Second World War years of 1939 and 1945 however for areas threatened by air attack it was a period of service of 6 months.
Within the Northern Ireland context this medal was available to Air Raid Wardens, Fire Service, Ambulance Service, Royal Ulster Constabulary, Civil Defence and Mortuary Service.
The largest group of recipients were members of the Home Guard.
The Territorial Army
The Territorial Army in Northern Ireland began recruiting in 1937 and were raised for what was described as “Imperial Defence”.
They came under the direct control of the War Office in Whitehall and recruits were given training for what was described as “The Supplementary Reserve”
The Territorial Army Units were:-
North Irish Horse (Supplementary Reserve)
3rd (Ulster) Anti-Aircraft Brigade (Supplementary Reserve)
8th (Ulster) Anti-Aircraft Regiment Royal Artillery (Supplementary Reserve)
9th (Londonderry) Anti-Aircraft Regiment Royal Artillery (Supplementary Reserve)
3rd (Ulster) Searchlight Regiment Royal Artillery (Supplementary Reserve)
3rd (Ulster) Anti-Aircraft Brigade Signal Company, Royal Signals (Supplementary Reserve)
3rd Anti-Aircraft Brigade Company Royal Army Service Corps (Supplementary Reserve)
3rd (Ulster) Anti-Aircraft Brigade Workshop Company Royal Army Ordnance Corps (Supplementary Reserve)
188 (Antrim) Heavy Battery Royal Artillery (Territorial Army)
Antrim Fortress Company Royal Engineers (Territorial Army)
‘A’ Group Headquarters and a total of 6 Auxiliary Territorial Reserve Companies.
Miles Aircraft Company
Miles Aircraft Company, based at Woodley in Berkshire, increased production of the Miles Messenger Aircraft and in doing so they took over a former Linen Mill in Banbridge, County Down for the production of components of the aircraft.
A hangar at R.A.F. Long Kesh was used for assembly of the aircraft and flight testing was carried out at the airfield.
The company moved to Newtownards following the end of the war in 1946.
Writings of Winston Churchill
“By the grace of God Ulster stood a faithful sentinel”
“That was a dark and dangerous hour. We were alone, and had to face single-handed the full fury of the German attack raining down death and destruction on our cities and, still more deadly, seeking to strangle our life by cutting off the entry to our ports of the ships which brought us our food and the weapons we so sorely needed.
Only one great channel remained open. It remained open because loyal Ulster gave us the full use of Northern Irish ports and waters, and thus ensured the free working of the Clyde and the Mersey.
But for the loyalty of Northern Ireland we should have been confronted with slavery and death and the light which now shines so strongly throughout the world would have bee quenched.
The bonds of affection between Great Britain and the people of Northern Ireland have been tempered by fire and are now, I believe, unbreakable.”
“We have travelled a hard and darksome road to victory in Europe, and at every turn in this memorable journey the loyalty and courage of Ulster have gleamed before the eyes of men.
The stand of the Government and People of Northern Ireland for the unity of the British Empire and Commonwealth and for the great cause of freedom, for which we all risked our survival will never be forgotten by Great Britain. A strong loyal Ulster will always be vital to the security and well-being of our whole Empire and Commonwealth”
At approximately 8am on 3rd September 1939 – Three hours BEFORE Britain declared war on Germany 188 (Antrim) Heavy Coastal Battery fired across the bows of a vessel entering Belfast Lough that had not complied with recognition procedure – This was one of the first Units to open fire in the Second World War.
The First of the Reserve Units to be deployed overseas was 3rd (Ulster) Anti Aircraft Brigade which went to France with the British Expeditionary Force in 1939.
This is a U.S. Army GMC (General Motors) 2.5 Ton 6x6 lorry affectionately known as a "Deuce and a Half" by soldiers.
United States Personnel in Northern Ireland
It has been estimated that throughout the Second World War around 300,000 United States Military Personnel passed through Northern Ireland.
This map of Belfast was issued to American Forces on their arrival.
This is a Willys Jeep which was produced by Willys & Ford Motor Company in Toledo, Ohio with approximately 640,000 of the standard model being produced.
Both the Jeep and Deuce and a Half would have been frequently seen on the roads of Northern Ireland during much of the Second World War.
Nissen huts were named after Major Peter Norman Nissen (1871 - 1930) of the 29th Company, Royal Engineers.
They were constructed of 54 sheets of corrugated iron with each sheet measuring 10 feet 6 inches tall by 2 feet 2 inches wide.
Variants on the design included the British Romney and the American Quonset - The latter being named after Quonset Point where the Davisville Naval Construction Battalion Centre was located at North Kingstown, Rhode Island.
Picture of Construction of Nissen Hut on 25th March 1942. (U.S. Army Signal Corps Picture from U.S. Army)
Condolences on Death of Adolf Hitler
Following the suicide of Adolf Hitler in Berlin the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of the Republic of Ireland, Eamon De Valera, who had insisted on the Irish Republic remaining neutral during the Second World War paid a visit on 2nd May 1945 to the German Minister in Ireland, Dr Eduard Hempel and offered his condolences on behalf of the Irish Government on the death of Hitler.
De Valera was followed by the Secretary of the President of the Republic of Ireland, Douglas Hyde who also passed on condolences on behalf of the Irish President.
With the Republic of Ireland (Eire) remaining Neutral during WW2 there were a number of large signs such as the one shown here, which was at Slieve League, County Donegal. The purpose was to show that NO aircraft from either the Allies or Axis were permitted.
Airraid Shelters - Domestic
There were various designs of Airraid shelter which were available for domestic use.
Shown above are a selection which can be seen at the impressive Eden Camp Museum in Yorkshire.
Some examples can still be found at homes in Northern Ireland however they will probably have been converted to a more suitable use for the 21st Century. - One such example is at the side of 15 Farmhill Road, Holywood.
The other picture here shows a snow covered concrete shelter which has been pushed over by the tree under which it was placed for camouflage from enemy aircraft. This one was at Ballymaconnell Road in Bangor but may now have been removed.
The final picture shows an Indoor Morrison Shelter which would have been used in some houses.
The Oxford Street / East Bridge Street Mine
During the Air Raid of 15th – 16th April 1941 on Belfast a large Parachute Mine exploded at the junction of Oxford Street and East Bridge Street.
It landed in close proximity to a crowded Air Raid Shelter containing over 100 people and caused damage to the shelter but fortunately the shelter worked effectively and no persons were injured.
However this particular mine caused major damage to buildings in the immediate area and in particular the Central Telephone Exchange with telephone cables being destroyed causing major problems for the defence of the city.
The main switchboard was abandoned and telephone lines to cities such as London, Manchester, Glasgow and Liverpool were severed leaving Belfast with no coordination of defences.
The Anti-Aircraft Command Headquarters had lost all communications and even R.A.F. Fighter Sectors had no communications with cross-channel operations.
Radar direction lines from Aldergrove to the filter station at Preston were cut and the R.A.F. Sector Controller of fighters could only guess as to the number of enemy bombers and their direction of flight therefore severely affecting his capability to provide defence.
Aerial Delivered German Bombs
The picture here shows a Flam C-500 bomb on the right of the two.
Listed below are a selection of German Bombs which may have
been used in raids on Northern Ireland
The smallest and most common German Bomb used in attacks on the United Kingdom. This was 40 to 54Kg in weight containing 25Kg of explosive these bombs made up almost 70% of all bombs dropped by the Germans.
245 to 256Kg in weight of which 125 – 130Kg was explosive.
480 to 520Kg with explosive weight of 250 – 260Kg
480 to 520Kg with explosive weighing 250 – 260Kg
993 to 1027Kg holding 530 - 590Kg of explosive and known as “Hermann”
Weighing between 1767 and 1879Kg with 1000Kg of explosive. Known as “Satan”
Weighing between 1950 – 2500Kg with 1700Kg of explosive. Only a small number of these bombs were deployed. Known as “Max”
1 Kg Incendiary Bomb
Between 1 – 1.3Kg containing 680gm of Thermite. With impact fuse this was dropped in clusters. May have had a High Explosive Charge.
C-50A Phosphorous Bomb
Weighing 41Kg this bomb had a 12Kg filling of liquid with phosphor igniters in glass phials. Fitted with an electrical impact fuse.
Flam C-250 “Oil Bomb”
125Kg with 74Kg liquid mix of 30% petrol and 70% crude oil
Luftmine A/B “Parachute Mine”
A would have been 500Kg with B 1000Kg. These were standard German Naval Mines which had been fitted with a suitable detonator.
This type of bomb was used extensively throughout the United Kingdom – Including Northern Ireland.
The 1 Kg Incendiary Bomb shown here was dropped in the Ballysallagh Area between Holywood, Newtownards and Bangor.
Royal Air Force Bombs
Shown here is everything from the 40lb up to the 22,000lb!
British Incendiary Bombs and "Window" on display in a Berlin Museum.
As well as the British Manufactured Bombs the Royal Air Force also used Bombs which had been manufactured in the United states. - This is an American 500lb General Purpose Bomb with a Suspension Lug for use by British Bombers.
This is not actually a Bomb but a British 250lb Target Indicator casing.
A "Burster Charge" blew ignited pyrotechnic candles from the back of this casing as it fell to ground and the casing would land empty while the pyrotechnics directed other Bombers as to where to deliver their load.
Both of the above were photographed in Hamburg.
Royal Air Force Hillman Minx
This is a 1943 Hillman Minx Royal Air Force Staff car. It can be seen on display at various events around Northern Ireland.
Sinking of Ships off Northern Ireland due to Military Action.
“William Humphries” - A Steamer of 276 Tons was sunk after being shelled by U-Boat U-33 and lies Northwest of Rathlin Island.
“Aska” – A Liner of 8323 tons which was transporting 350 French Soldiers was bombed between The Maidens and Rathlin however it progressed slowly to sink off Cara Island, Scotland.
“Santa Lucia” – A Dutch Coaster of 379 Tons carrying railway sleepers was mined off Pile Light in Belfast Lough.
“Mount Park” a Steamer of 4648 tons was bombed off the County Antrim Coast
“Jewel” – An Admiralty Mine Sweeping Drifter of 84 Tons was mined a mile off Pile Light in Belfast Lough on 18th May 1941 with the loss of all hands as listed here:-
ANDREWS, Frederick W, Stoker, RNPS, LT/KX 102649
CRABTREE, Leslie, Seaman Steward, RNPS, LT/JX 205735
CRESSWELL, George H J, Ty/Sub Lieutenant, RNVR
ENGLAND, William J C, Seaman, RNPS, LT/JX 174438
INGLIS, David F, Seaman, RNPS, LT/JX 180238
JAMES, Herbert E, Ordinary Signalman, RNPS, D/JX 231536
KELSO, John S, Ordinary Seaman, RNPS, LT/JX 228182
LENNON, John, Stoker, RNPS, LT/KX 106886
LEONARD, Walter, Engineman, RNPS, LT/KX 102505
MOULTON, Robert B, Wireman, P/MX 63954
PINKNEY, James E, Engineman, RNPS, LT/KX 102491
PROCTOR, John A, Seaman, RNPS, LT/JX 183714
SCARBOROUGH, Robert, Seaman Cook, RNPS, LT/JX 164375
TAYLOR, John W, 2nd Hand, RNPS, LT/JX 180450
It should be noted that these men are remembered on the Royal Naval Patrol Service Memorial at Lowestoft.
“Maja” A Motor Tanker carrying petroleum was torpedoed 30 miles southwest of the Isle of Man.
U-1003 – A German U-Boat of 220 feet was sunk following a collision with H.M.S. Glasgow 7 miles north of Portstewart.
Loss of Ships
The Belfast shipping company G. Heyn & Son Ltd lost 8 vessels in offensive action during the Second World War.
John Kelly Limited lost 4 boats to enemy action while their steamer “Oranmore” was the oldest vessel involved in the Normandy landings. It was 49 years old and went to Utah Beach.
From a speech by General Dwight D. Eisenhower
“It was here in Northern Ireland that the American Army first began to concentrate for our share in the attack upon the citadel of continental Europe.
From here started the long, hard march to Allied Victory.
Without Northern Ireland I do not see how the American forces could have concentrated to begin the invasion of Europe”
These pictures show American Soldiers familiarising themselves with German weapons in Northern Ireland.
The Ulster Ships
The ferries “Princess Maud”, "Ulster Prince" and “Ulster Monarch” took part in the miracle of Dunkirk where the 3rd (Ulster) Anti-Aircraft Brigade, 1st Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and 2nd Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles were among the various units comprising the British Expeditionary Force who were rescued.
"Ulster Prince" also served as an Anti-Aircraft Ship to protect convoys while "Ulster Monarch" (Which is shown above in two I.W.M. Photographs) was used to ferry Royal Marine Commandoes to invade Sicily!
"Ulster Queen" (Shown below in an I.W.M. Photograph) was a former Merchant Ship which was armed with eight 4 Inch Anti-Aircraft guns and used as an Anti-Aircraft ship for Convoy Protection Duties.
The Belfast - Liverpool Ferry "Ulster Monarch" was used by the Royal Navy as a Fighter direction ship to vector Night-Fight Beaufighter aircraft onto enemy convoys in the Mediterranean Sea.
S.S. Fanad Head Torpedoed by U-Boat in North Atlantic
Item above from "The War Illustrated"
Airfield Contact Lighting in Northern Ireland
The requirement was that a Pilot should be able to land an aircraft with visibility at a maximum of 100 feet.
There were 3 types of Contact Lighting fittings used between 1938 and 1944.
At the end of 1943 the situation regarding Contact Lighting at airfields in Northern Ireland was recorded as follows :-
Complete and Operational - Nutts Corner
Contact Lighting Definately Required - Ballykelly, Cluntoe, Toome,
Requirements Uncertain - Ballyhalbert
Contact Lighting Definately Not Required -Bishopcourt, Greencastle, Kirkistown Langford Lodge, Limavady, Long Kesh, Maghaberry, Mullaghmore, St Angelo
Danger Still Exists Below The Waves
(From "The War Illustrated" Magazine)
The Irish Sea
You may think it strange that I have this section related to the Irish Sea however this is not related to sunken ships or downed aircraft ……Beaufort’s Dyke is a deep trench on the sea bed between Northern Ireland and Scotland.
It measures approximately 30 miles in length and is 2 miles wide.
With the end of the Second World War the Government were left with a huge amount of munitions and a problem as to what to do with them as there were considerable issues to be overcome if they were to be stored or disposed of safely on land.
The decision was made to simply dump masses of ordnance into Beauforts Dyke.
The picture above shows a Brass Shell which was brought up in a Fishing Boats nets. It has since had both the warhead and pecussion cap removed to make it completely inert.
This example is a 40mm Mark 1 Bofors Shell which was manufactured by Royal Laboratory Birtley in 1939 and had a Cordite Full charge.
It is estimated that one million tons of munitions now lies in the trench –
This includes Mortars, Ammunition, Artillery Shells, Hand Grenades, Rockets, Bombs and phosphorus shells which are the most relevant.
During stormy weather there are occasions when phosphorus shells are washed up from Beaufort’s dyke onto the coastline of Counties Antrim and Down.
If seen these MUST NOT be touched and the local Fire and Rescue Service contacted immediately via the 999 telephone service.
Visit to Northern Ireland by the Czech Government in Exile
Members of the Czech Government in Exile visiting Northern Ireland.
From left to right: Brigadier General Edmund Hill (USA); General Jan Sergěj Ingr, Minister of National Defence and Commander in Chief of Czechoslovak Forces; Lieutenant General Harold Edmund Franklyn CB DSO MC, General Officer Commanding British Troops in Northern Ireland; Air Vice Marshal Karel Janoušek, General Officer Commanding the Czechoslovak Air Force; and Mr Jan Masaryk, Deputy Prime Minister of Czechoslovakia. (Imperial War Museum Photograph)