The Second World War in Northern Ireland

The Second World War in Northern Ireland

County Down Part 7

Ballykinler Camp and Tyrella Beach

This photograph was taken from an aircraft at about 35,000 feet however most of the Camp can be seen.

From left to right is Abercorn Barracks below which is Sandes Home. Four Shooting Ranges can be clearly seen and below these are Training Buildings and Storage Areas.

The undulating ground above the Ranges is the Training Area which may feature in the photograph above and on the right is the Close Quarter Battle Range. Old First World War Training Trenches were located northwest of this near the Sea.

The Training Area continues to the right past "Flagstaff" to Dundrum Bay.

The green Huts as shown below would have been positioned centre bottom of this photograph. (I took this photograph. Please do not copy)

Tyrella Pillbox 1

Tyrella Pillbox 2

Tyrella Pillbox 3 

Tyrella Pillbox 4

Tyrella Pillbox 5

The structures shown above where discovered when some undergrowth was removed.

Sande's Home Ballykinler

This clearly posed photograph shows Soldiers writing letters home from the Sandes Home in Belfast. (IWM Picture)

The newly constructed Abercorn Barracks within Ballykinler Camp

Guard Room and Regimental Offices 

Sandhurst Block

Sergeants Mess on the left with the Regimental Institute on the right. (All these photographs come from the Imperial war Museum)

John Carr, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders at Abercorn Barracks

John Carr enlisted in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in England towards the end of World War II due to his young age. His father had served with the Machine Gun Corps in World War I and was involved with the British Legion. His brothers and sisters all served in World War II. John trained with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders at Ballykinlar Camp in 1946. A group photograph says on the back ‘Taken at Ballykinlar Northern Ireland Feb 1946’. He is in the 3rd row on the far right hand side. He and his fellow soldiers look very young. John went on to serve in Palestine.
(Thanks to John's nephew, Aidan Kavanagh, for sharing information and photograph.)

Food Production at Ballykinler

Cooks prepare Rissoles with meat and bread left over from previous meals. Sausages are produced on the right. Photographed on 8th March 1941. (IWM Picture)

Butter is being made into Pats on the left with Dripping being squeezed from surplus fat with a hand press in the picture on the right (IWM Pictures)

Thomas Hall, 2nd Monmouthshire Regiment

Thomas Hall was born in Cwmbran, South Wales in 1918 and joined the TA South Wales Borderers/Monmouthshire Regiment in February 1934. 
After five years his service ended in February 1939 however he rejoined the following June to become a Regular soldier in 2nd Monmouthshires. 
(He is shown above left and at Winchester Barracks above right)
Thomas had been training at Ballykinlar then on 8th May 1940 the soldiers marched out of Ballykinler Camp to the nearby Tullymurry Railway Station to go to Larne and ship to Stranraer.
The journey continued through Edinburgh to detrain at Portabello.
The following day the soldiers marched to Leith and boarded the Harland and Wolff built M.V. Royal Ulsterman which had been a Passenger ship which was now used as a Troop Ship.
Joined by H.M.S. Matabele at 19.00 on 10th May 1940 the ships headed for Bodo, Norway where the first Troops landed at shortly after midnight on 14th May and within an hour they were billeted  at a Fish Factory in Langestrande.

This was Operation Avonmouth being the Allied expedition to Narvik in Norway.

There were a number of skirmishes with the Germans and one particular Air Raid in which he was wounded.
At 15.15 on 22nd May 1940 an Enemy Aircraft bombed near Company Headquarters and the R.A.F. Wireless tent was hit resulting in 1 Acting Corporal and 1 Private being Killed in Action along with 8 Other ranks being wounded including Thomas Hall who was evacuated to Bodo Hospital.

The War Diary of Number 2 Independent Company shown above gives details of the bombing with typewritten Casualty List below.

At 23.00 on 30th May 1940  Private Hall was withdrawn and after a few days found himself on the Royal Scotsman docked at Scapa Flow.
Following his recovery Thomas volunteered for the Commandos training at Achnacarry and perhaps in Devon before he joined Number 1 Commando. 
(Shown below in November 1943 and on a Training Exercise above)
After some raids on the French coast Thomas was involved in Operation Torch, the North African landings on 8th November 1942, near Algiers and then subsequent actions and onward into Tunisia. 

Having returned to England for a time Thomas was again on his travels.
When crossing the Mediterranean the ship he was on was damaged by bombs and had to pull into Alexandria for repairs just before Christmas, so spent the Festive season of 1943 there before negotiating the suez canal in January 1944.
After docking in Bombay th Commandos crossed India to Camp near the border with Burma where there was intensive Jungle Training.

They went into action on on the Arakan coastline, and for months afterwards, including the Battle of Hill 170 at Kangaw in Burma. 

The Japanese Army was attempting to reach the coastline so as to breach the Allied lines and split their forces into two.
No.1 Army Commando at the forefront, along with elements of No.5 Army Commando, plus the Royal Marine Commandos, although heavily outnumbered, held the line.
Bravery was in abundance with  Lieutenant George Knowland earned a Victoria cross for his defensive actions, firing whatever came to hand at the enemy, be it grenades, rifles, Bren Gun and even a 2" mortar from his hip until he fell mortally wounded.

A few weeks after this decisive action, the brigade was once again withdrawn from the frontline in peparation for the invasion of Malaya however following the Atomic Bombs being dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki the Japanese finally surrendered.

Mopping up operations continued in Malayan waters and coastline, then over to Hong Kong for police action, to restore order and take the official surrender of the Japanese. 
Thomas was in Hong Kong until at least the end of October 1945 and was at a Commando Holding Company in Wrexham when he was finally demobbed in February 1946.
He is shown on the extreme right in the photograph below.

Thomas Hall is seen here along with his Commando Service Certificate.

(Sincere thanks to Darren Little for this information and photographs relating to his Grandfather, Thomas Hall.)

Training at Ballykinler Camp

British Soldiers training at Ballykinler

Soldiers of 59th Battalion, Reconnaissance Corps training at Ballykinler on 6th December 1941. (I.W.M. Photograph)

Beaverette Armoured Cars of 53rd Reconnaissance Regiment at Ballykinler on 19th June 1941. (Imperial War Museum Photograph)

Beaverette Armoured Cars and Bren Gun Carriers photographed 19th June 1941 (I.W.M. Photograph)

Motorcyclists of 59th Battalion, Reconnaissance Corps shown below (IWM Pictures)

Motorcyclists from 59th Battalion, Reconnaissance Corps tearning how to keep control of their machines in the sand at Ballykinler. (IWM Pictures)

British Soldiers marching at Ballykinler during 1940.

North Irish Horse Valentine Tank at Ballykinler

(Thanks very much to Kitchener Hanna and Bracken Anderson)

Group Photograph

Johnny Patterson in Ballykinker.
This appears to be a group photograph of Sergeants and Warrant Officers.
The photograph was taken in Ballykinler and the man who is highlighted centre back with an orange square is Johnny Patterson who was a Sergeant P.T. Instructor and served in India. (Thanks very much to Seamus Breslin)

Aircraft Recognition Training for U.S. Army at Ballykinler

Shown here is 241 Light Anti-Aircraft Training Regiment based at Ballykinler. The photographs show American Soldiers receiving Instruction from a British Sergeant on Aircraft Recognition. (IWM Pictures)

American Soldiers being instructed in the use of the Bofors Light Anti-Aircraft Gun at Ballykinler

Gun Drill photographed on 17th September 1942. (IWM Photographs)

Bofors Anti-Aircraft Gun Training at Ballykinker

17th Anti-Aircraft Practice Camp taking place a Ballykinler with the arrival of the Y.M.C.A. Canteen Van! (IWM Pictures)

A.T.S. Girls are shown recording the results of the Firing. (IWM Pictures)

These photographs were taken on 11th March 1942 (IWM Photographs)

Soldiers of the Royal Welch Fusiliers being instructed in the use of the 2 inch Mortar on 21st August 1942 (Imperial War Museum Photograph)

The Duke of Gloucester inspecting Troops at Ballykinler on 21st April 1941 - (All of the following photographs are from the Imperial War Museum)

General Inspection of Reconnaissance Corps taking place.

Major General J.S. Steele is seen inspecting 59th Reconnaissance Company at Ballykinler.

"The Battle of Ballykinler"


There was a large contingent of British Soldiers at Ballykinler from the beginning of the Second World War and they were later joined by U.S. Troops after the Americans joined the conflict following the Japanese Raid on Pearl Harbor.

Between 13th May and 9th December 1942 13th Armor of 1st Armoured Division as well as a Tank Destroyer Battalion and Service Company all arrived at Ballykinler.

They were later joined by a Maintenance Battalion of 1st Armored Division, 106th Coast Artillery Battalion and 3440th Ordnance Medium Automotive Maintenance Company as well as part of 11th Infartry, 5th Infantry Division.

With all of these arrivals much of the British complement moved to Gough Barracks in Armagh leaving only a small Guard Unit to maintain there presence at Ballykinler.


It was common practice for local Farmers to pass through the Camp onto the beach where they gathered seaweed for use as a fertilizer on the fields.

On one Springtime day a farmer had filled his horse drawn cart and was making his way along the road which passed through the centre of the Camp towards Commons Road at the main entrance.

Passing a Fusiliers Guard House he nodded to them and was acknowledged in the usual way however things were about to deteriorate dramatically.


On passing a Guard House which was being operated by the Americans a challenge was shouted by the U.S. Soldier however there was no response from the farmer who may not have heard it or did not know the command was directed at him as this had never happened before.


As he continued on his way a second challenge was shouted but when the farmer did not stop the Guard opened fire with his rifle and bedlam ensued.

A bullet struck the cart causing the horse to bolt in the direction of Commons Road. The farmer was clinging on and after a time was able to regain control after which he immediately went to the local Shop which was owned by My Kirby.


Mr Kirby was In Charge of the Local Defence Volunteers / Ulster Home Guard and on hearing what had happened and seeing the bullet hole in the cart it became obvious to him that an attempt had been made to land Enemy Troops.

He immediately informed his superiors and called out his Detachment to locate and engage the Enemy!


Meanwhile within the Camp the Americans at the Guard House had passed details to their Officers and the First Defence Group within the Camp was deployed to immediately repel Enemy Forces who may at that very moment be attempting to form a Bridge Head.


With both sides advancing to contact it was only a matter of time before they saw each other in the fading light of evening and soon shots were exchanged!!

After some time each side finally recognised the other and hostilities stopped without loss of life.


This is a true story.

Are you aware of this taking place and do you have any information? If so then please email me at

U.S. Army Tanks at Ballykinler (Thanks to Ed Luke for these two Photographs)

Buglers from 6th Armoured Infantry Division, U.S. Army at Ballykinler in August 1942. (From Home Away From Home)

Sergeant Robert Simmonds at Ballykinker.

****These Photographs are from a Private Collection do PLEASE DO NOT COPY****

Robert Simmonds joined the Army in April 1940 and served with The Royal Fusiliers from where he was attached to Number 17 Primary Training Centre based at Ballykinler.

In his photographs of Ballykinler Camp the Mourne Mountains can be seen in the background and it is interesting to note the Blast Wall which had been constructed around the Buildings.  (Thanks very much to David Simmonds for permitting me to use these photographs)  

****These Photographs are from a Private Collection do PLEASE DO NOT COPY****

(This photograph from Ballykinler Hut Project.

King George VI attends Training and Equipment Display by United States Army at Ballykinler

Tank Display

Display of Various Equipment including Earth Mover

30 Cal Light Machine-Gun Training Unit

37MM Anti-Tank Gun Training Unit

Musketry Landscape Target Range

Communications Equipment

(Photograph above From West Maryland Historical Library)

Examining a Variety of Vehicles

U.S. Army Military Band provides some music.

Then had some time to relax!

Parade For the King

(The photograph above comes from Western Maryland regional Library at )

Horace Carratelli, US 1st Armored Division, in the Second World War

Horace Carratelli was born to Italian immigrants, Robert and Maril Carratelli, in King’s, New York, in 1919. His father was a foreman in a clothing factory and his mother was a housewife, but when she left the family when Horace was only 9, he had to fend for himself and his younger brothers, Nicholas and Rudolph. In his early 20s Horace was working during the day and studying at college at night, and was only 4 months away from getting his degree when he was drafted in to the US Army in 1941. He underwent 16 weeks basic training at Fort Knox, but had no field experience prior to the USA entering the Second World War after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour on 7th December 1941. Horace joined ‘B’ (Headquarters) Company of the 123rd Ordnance Battalion of the 1st Armored Division, nicknamed the ‘Old Ironsides’, and became a Technician 5th Grade.

In April 1942, the Division moved to Fort Dix for additional training, and Horace managed to visit his brothers in New York for 3 days on leave. When he read the newspaper one morning he discovered that the Queen Mary had made it safely across the Atlantic in just over 3 days, and he knew from typing up orders for the battalion that this ship was to transport the 15,000 men of the 1st Armored Division to Scotland. He raced back to Fort Dix, just in time to move out with his battalion, and sailed to Scotland on the Queen Mary from New York on 11th May 1942.

After safe passage, Horace crossed the Irish Sea to Belfast, and arrived at Ballykinlar after a train journey to Tullymurray Station, and a 3 mile march to the Camp. In the summer of 1942 he was photographed at the Camp, peeling potatoes, and with two of his friends, George Paneff and Nick Giacalone, and their mascot dog, ‘Ace’. Other GIs in the 123rd Ordnance Battalion were stationed in the Old Gaol in Downpatrick, now Down County Museum, located close to Down Cathedral and St Patrick's Grave - including Bob Dowell, who returned to visit the Gaol/Museum with family and comrades in 2005.

Horace was transported with the First Armored Division to Algeria in October 1942, where it helped to capture Oran, and then played a major part in the tough campaign in Tunisia, resulting in victory on 9th May 1943, a year after the Queen Mary had transported the Division to Scotland.
The Division then joined the Italian campaign, moving to Naples and then being pinned down after the Allied landings at Anzio. Horace kept a photograph of a massive German railway gun, ‘Anzio Annie’, which pounded the Anzio beachhead from inland, in an offensive that made the entire Allied force dig in for 4 months. After the breakout and liberation of Rome on 4th June 1944, and a brief rest, the Division headed north where it wintered in the hills of the Appenines and faced a grim campaign to force the Germans to retreat north. Horace had his photograph taken on the Leaning Tower of Pisa, when 1st Armored Division entered the city. Finally, the Division took part in the final breakout into the Po Valley, which resulted in the execution of Mussolini on 28th April 1945, almost exactly three years after the Division’s arrival in County Down. In 2019, at the age of 100, Horace made a film about his early life up to 1942 for his beloved 1st Armored Division.

(Thanks to Ballykinlar History Hut Sources: Horace Carratelli: autobiographical film
; Andrew Carlisle; ‘GI Stories of 1942’, in King, M. (ed.), County Down at War 1850-1945 (Down Survey, 2004), 110-112.


Artillery Training in the Mourne Mountains

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother arrive and meet others prior to Demonstration (Please note that all of these photographs are from Life Magazine)

(Photograph above From West Maryland Historical Library)

With everyone having assembled the Gun Crews are shown below moving into position.

Infantry advance with the aid of an Artillery Barrage

Artillery Pieces in Action

(All of the photographs above are from Live Magazine. The origin of the one below is unknown)

The King is driven away in a Jeep

A Letter of Thanks from Elizabeth to Major General Hartle

As can be seen from both the Letter and Photograph shown here Elizabeth had a very enjoyable day in the company of Major General Hartle at Ballykinler and the display in the Mourne Mountains and as a show of Thanks this signed photograph was sent to Major General Hartle from Buckingham Palace.

(From the Western Maryland Historical Library)

A few photographs of what was an enjoyable day for Elizabeth. (Life Magazine Photographs)

(The photograph above is from Western Maryland Historical Society)

Shown above is an old photograph of Ballykinler Camp as taken from Commons Road. I believe the picture on the right is from Down Museum however I am not certain.

The Plan below shows Commons Road running in the top right of the drawing.

Shown above is a Post Card from 'World's End Camp', Ballykinlar which was posted in 1945.

Saint Patricks Day, 17th March, 1941 at Ballykinler

The Commanding Officer of Royal Irish Fusiliers is shown receiving his sprigg of Shamrock. (Imperial War Museum Photographs)

The Soldiers are seen marching at Abercorn Barracks, Ballykinler.

The building above left is the entrance to the Officers Mess in Abercorn Barracks. (Imperial War Museum Photographs)

German Prisoners of War at Ballykinler

Julius Fröhlich - a German POW at Ballykinlar Camp, 1944-1947

Julius Fröhlich was born on 2nd February 1923, the son of Wilhelm Fröhlich, a carpenter, and his wife Emma (née Schneider). 
The family lived at 129 Rasenstrasse, on the outskirts of Kühndorf, in the district of Schleusingen in Thuringia, Germany. They attended the Evangelical Church in the village. After leaving school, Julius got a job as a fitter for a building company, before joining the German army during the Second World War. He left behind his parents and a younger sister, whose photograph he kept with him.

He joined the 3rd Parachute Division, a military unit of the German Luftwaffe (Air Force), that was formed in October 1943 in France, near Rheims, and in February 1944 moved to Brest. Julius was a Private in the 15th Company. After the D-Day landings, on 10th June 1944 the Division was transported by truck overnight from Brittany to Normandy, numbering 15,976 soldiers and officers. Its level of training and excellent weapon systems prompted the commander of the US 29th Infantry Division to remark, ‘Those Germans are the best damned soldiers I ever saw.’
The division was limited by lack of motor transport, and had to seize vehicles from French civilians. This hampered the division as it engaged the Allies on the invasion front. In August the division was virtually destroyed by mass aerial bombing in the area of Falaise.

Julius was taken prisoner at Trun in France on 21st August 1944. He was eventually transported to Ballykinlar Camp, where he was housed in a T-shaped hut with about 34 other German prisoners of war. His name appears on a list of prisoners written on the under-side of a tray, inserted into a sewing-box, made by the POWs for the wife of the 2nd in command at the Camp, Walter Johnson, in 1946 (donated to Down County Museum by their son Ian Johnson). 
Julius was still at the Camp in 1947, when he was photographed with the family of Albert Kendall, the Quartermaster at the Camp, who had befriended him. 
(Sources: GVA Tracing Archives Services, International Committee of the Red Cross; Sharon Lynas; sewing box in DCM collections, Ballykinlar History Hut)

Heinrich Hannekum, a German POW at Ballykinlar Camp, 1944-1947

Heinrich Hannekum was born on 8th March 1918 during the First World War. He was the son of Wilhelm Hannekum, a farmer in Ahlhorn, Oldenburg, Germany, and his wife Gesine. On leaving school, Heinrich worked on the farm, and in the late 1930s he married Maria Schnoelzer, from Partenstein, Oberdonau.
In the Second World War, Heinrich joined the German Army and became an Unteroffizier in the 344th Infantry Division (8th Company, Gren. Regiment 854). 

Following the D-Day landings, Heinrich was captured at Amiens, in France, on 1st September 1944. As a Prisoner of War, he was eventually transported to Northern Ireland, where he was held at Ballykinlar Camp.

His name appears on a list of 35 German prisoners of war preserved inside a sewing box made in 1946 by a POW for the wife of the Second in Command at Ballykinlar Camp, Walter Johnson. The POWs were held in a T-shaped hut, and were assigned to different jobs during the day, working in the joinery workshop in the Camp, on the construction and laying out of new playing fields at the Camp, or assisting local farmers.
Heinrich was assigned to help out on Paddy Digney’s dairy at Tyrella, with another German POW called Paul. There he met Paddy’s son, Francis, who helped him to learn English. Each day Heinrich would work at the dairy, have tea with the Digney family, and then return to the Camp for 5 o’clock. He was also given a pint of milk every day. He had no children of his own yet, but missed his 12 nephews and nieces in Germany.
In the Spring of 1947 Heinrich and other POWs were transferred to the Scottish Borders, where they were based at various camps, such as Newtown near Kelso, and 120 POW Camp, Sumlaws, working for local farmers. 

At Christmas 1947, he was allowed to travel a distance of 100 miles from the Camp, but he could not travel back to Ballykinlar. Heinrich wrote letters to Francis and his family, and they continued to correspond until he returned to Germany.

In February 1948 Heinrich was transferred to a camp near Glasgow, then to another one near Sheffield, before being shipped to Holland, and a train journey to his home at 23 Ahlhorn, Oldenburg in Germany. Fortunately, his wife, mother and all his sisters and brothers survived the war. His letters to Francis describe how he managed to get a job at a railway station, even though many were unemployed, and there was ‘no food, nothing to buy and people are starving’. In spite of the difficult times, Heinrich announced in a letter of 26th March 1949 that he and his wife have had a baby girl. 
(Thanks to Ballykinlar History Hut, Frank Digney for allowing access to Heinrich's letters, and James Cromey for transcribing them.
Sources: GVA Tracing Archives Services, International Committee of the Red Cross; Frank Digney; letters from Heinrich Hannekum to Frank Digney (1947-1949), transcribed by James Cromey; Ian Johnson; sewing box in DCM collections.)

Items made by Prisoners of War at Ballykinlar

This toy wooden chicken clock, previously on wheels and child's rolling pin and board were made by a German Prisoner Of War, held at Ballykinlar Camp, for Anne Killen, daughter of the groundsman at the Camp, James Killen.
The wooden box was made by Terry Kendall, youngest son of Albert Kendall, Quartermaster at the Camp, and brother-in-law of James Killen. 
Terry attended Ballykinlar Camp School, and had help making the box from another German prisoner. 
There were 35 recorded prisoners at the Camp, but many of them attended a workshop at the Camp each day, where they made all kinds of toys and household items, before they were transferred to Scottish camps in 1947, and finally repatriated in 1948.
(Thanks go to Sharon Lynas, granddaughter of Albert Kendall, for donating these items to Down County Museum)

Tracked Vehicles on Ballykinlar Beach

The picture above is from a 'Tucks Post Card' by Raphael Tuck and Sons Limited. Printed in England. The back of the Post Card gives the date as December 1941 - February 1942.

Aeronautical Chart of Ballykinlar

This Aeronautical Chart shows restrictions in the area of the Ranges at Ballykinlar Camp.

(Thanks very much to Charles Hill)