The Second World War in Northern Ireland

The Second World War in Northern Ireland

County Fermanagh Part 2

Belleek and the "Donegal Corridor"

On the left is a photograph of a Memorial Stone which can be seen on the bridge at Belleek facing the famous Belleek Pottery.

This refers to the use by Allied Aircraft of the "Donegal Corridor" through neutral Republic of Ireland to access the Atlantic Ocean.

The photograph above shows Sunderland Flying Boats using the "Corridor" to return to base following a patrol over the Atlantic Ocean. (Thanks very much to Gerry Galagher)

The aircraft are shown flying over the Neutral Republic of Ireland back towards Northern Ireland.

If it had not been for the"Corridor" then the range of these aircraft would have been considerably restricted resulting in the inability of the Royal Air Force Coastal Command to protect shipping for the entire crossing of the Atlantic.

Derrynacross Radio Station, Belleek

This is without doubt the most westerly Allied Forces station in the United Kingdom.

It is in the townland of Derrynacross to the west of the main Belleek to Garrison Road and was operated by the Royal Air Force.

The site included the building shown here and 2 large masts which broadcast a narrow radio beam from its Medium Frequency "Leader" Radio Beacon.

The purpose of the beam was to ensure the safe passage of aircraft travelling across the Atlantic Ocean from the United States. It was vital that all the aircraft making their way to the Allied Forces in Europe arrived safely and did not land in neutral Eire and face the possibility of Internment. (Google picture)

The paragraph shown above comes from a SECRET Report dated 13th November 1941 regarding the use of Radio Beacons to assist Aircraft crossing the Atlantic. 

(With Thanks to Martin Briscoe)

Newspaper Article regarding Derrynacorss Radio Station dated 12th September 1946

At 1.30 a.m., on Monday the night guard at Derrynacross R.A.F. Station, Co. Fermanagh, (Near Belleek) which is near the Border, found a man inside the barbed wire enclosure and outside the wire six Bren guns and two blankets, part of the camp equipment.
At a special court held subsequently, Joseph Rooney, of Boynagh, Co. Leitrim, who is in his early thirties, was charged with having attempted to steal the articles. Head-Constable Russell, Belleek, gave evidence of arrest, and accused was remanded in custody by Mr. E. Elliott, J.P., to a later Special court.

(With Many thanks to Selwyn Johnston)

U.S. Army Soldier in Main Street, Belleek

U.S. Army Soldier examines the local Transport in Main Street, Belleek. ******Please Do Not Copy****** (Many thanks to Breege McCusker)

Magheramenagh Radio Station, Belleek.

This was a United States Army Air Force operated station which maintained a Radio beacon for Allied Aircraft operating over the Atlantic Ocean.

The Radio Station stood on the Magheramenagh Castle grounds and was operated by around 10 personnel of the U.S. Army Air Force Group known as “Army Airway Communication System”.

It was a very low frequency Homing Beacon which emitted 4 beams with the West Beam reaching out over the Atlantic Ocean where Allied aircraft could locate and then fly along the beam towards Belleek where the East Beam went along the length of Lower Lough Erne in order to guide the aircrews to a safe landing. - The old plan above shows the direction of the beams from this radio station while this photograph of the Radio Antenna was taken by Dr Philip S. Callahan when he was working at the top of one of the antenna poles. The flat roofed building which held the transmitters can be seen bottom right of centre.

Aerial imagery shows that one of the old buildings remains standing. It can be seen left of centre in the photograph below.

This plan shows how the beam worked to ensure a safe flight course to Lough Erne. 

(Thanks to Dr Philip S. Callahan, Tom Dykstra and Joe O’Loughlin for all their information and assistance)

Bombing Range Quadrant Tower, Boa Island

This is a Bombing Range Quadrant Tower which stands on Boa Island.

The tower is in the townland of Drenagh on the western side of the Island and is close to the southern shore.

An impressive example in super condition - even down to the cream/yellow paint inside!

Probably one of the best preserved of all such towers that I have visited.

Bombing Range Quadrant Tower, Templecarn

The Bombing Range Quadrant Tower shown above was one of three, including the one shown above, which covered a Bombing Range off Boa Island which was used by Sunderland and Catalina Flying Boats from the nearby Castle Archdale and Killadeas Air Bases.

This one is in the townland on Templecarn at the western side of the tower shown below.

It was pleasing to see that the window frames, Handrail and even part of the telephone communication system remains!

Irish Guardsman Thomas Maguire from Garrison. 

Thomas Maguire was from Aughoo, Tullyrosmearn between Belcoo and Garrison in County Fermanagh.

He had Enlisted in the Irish Guards when he was 19 years old, long before the war on 11th February 1936 and following his basic Training he had served in both Egypt and Palestine before the Second World War.

Between 11th April 1940 and 11th June 1940 Thomas was serving in Norway.

After some time at Home he then left for North Africa on 28th February 1943. Thomas died on 6th May 1943 as a result of wounds received in action 

Lance Serjeant Thomas Maguire, Service Number 2718338, was 26 years old when he died.

He had been serving with 1st Battalion Irish Guards and was the Son of Son of Bernard and Rose Ann Maguire, of Tullyrosmearn.

Thomas is buried in Massicault War Cemetery,approximately 30 kilometres south-west of Tunis in Tunisia. (Thanks very much to Caroline Maguire Gilmore)

Trory Sunderland Flying Boat Memorial

This Memorial Stone marks the crash site of a Shorts Sunderland Flying Boat of 422 Squadron Royal Canadian Air Force on 20th February 1944.

Both Air Crew were killed.

They were Pilot Officer L.A. Hebenton from Calgary in Canada and Sergeant R.W. Bodsworth from Northampton in England.

Hebenton was buried nearby in Irvinestown and I have included a picture of his headstone while Bodsworth was flown home to be buried in Kingsthorpe Cemetery, Northamptonshire. I believe the photograph below shows the wreckage from this crash.

Immediately above is a Canadian Newspaper article about Hebenton along with a Cross representing him in Calgary. (Thanks very much to his Nephew Mike for these)

U.S. Army Soldier visits Devenish Island

U.S. Army Soldier visits Devenish Island. My photograph shows the same cross as it is today. ******Please Do Not Copy****** (Many thanks to Breege McCusker)

Catalina Flying Boat over Enniskillen

A Catalina Flying Boat flying over Enniskillen during the Second World War with my photographs showing the same locations today.  Second World War in Northern Ireland - 

(Thanks very much to Selwyn Johnston)

British Soldiers on Parade in Enniskillen

This photograph shows British Soldiers on parade in Church Street, Enniskillen.

The photograph below shows the same area with a Nissen Hut which appears to be in the grounds of St Macartin's Cathedral.

If you know the reason for this Parade then please contact me at the E-Mail address below. (Sincere Thanks to Sheriff Johnston for these photographs)

The Return of the Drums

The same two drums are shown in my photograph of a 'Beating Retreat' at Enniskillen Castle on 4th June 2022. Fantastic Article (Thanks to Selwyn Johnston)

Northamptonshire Regiment in Enniskillen

Brigadier General Sir Harry Know is shown inspecting a Battalion of the Northamptonshire Regiment as they parade through The Diamond, Enniskillen.

(BT Picture)

Portora Royal School

The 2 plates shows here can be seen on the impressive entrance gate to Portora Royal School in Enniskillen having been erected to mark the passing of past pupils of Portora Royal School who were killed during the Second World War.

The photograph above shows a First World War Trophy Gun sitting at the entrance gate looking towards Willoughby Place. (Thanks Selwyn Johnston)

Flight Lt. Derek Edward Reay was 22 years old and serving with 207 Squadron, Royal Air Force. He was in Lancaster Bomber W4959 on 23rd / 24th November 1943 on a Bombing Raid to Berlin when the aircraft was lost with the lives of all crew members.

Flying Officer Geoffrey Norman Reay was 21 years old and serving with 51 Squadron, Royal Air Force. He was in Halifax Bomber LW177 on 5th November 1944 on a mission to Bochum when this was one of three bombers lost. He is buried in Rheinberg War Cemetery.

Captain William Edward Carson Irwin was 31 years old and a member of the Royal Artillery when he was killed on 6th August 1944. He was from Irvinestown.

Unveiling of the Eisenhower Playing Fields informative notice by the United States Consul General Gregory S. Burton (Many thanks to Selwyn Johnston)

With the growth of trees as well as development of the area it is difficult to see the comparison in the pictures here however the little house in the background, Drumlyon Cottage is also shown here as well as an informative Notice which has been erected.

General Eisenhower inspecting American Troops at Portora Playing Fields. (Picture from Crom Castle D-Day 75th Anniversary Brochure. Picture below from BBC)

"Round O Quay" Enniskillen

Here we have the Royal Ulster Constabulary Police Officers on patrol near what is now the "Round O" Quay in Enniskillen. 

The boat, called Lady Ann, is equipped with a Vickers Machine Gun as well as all officers being armed.

This Catalina Flying Boat was motored along the Lough to be moored at the location in this photograph which is at the Round O beside the West (Ann Street) Bridge.

The aircraft was piloted by Flight Lt, later Squadron Leader Edwards and was moored there for "Wings For Victory Week" - Three Thousand people paid 1 Shilling to board and take a look around the aircraft raising £154 for the cause. (Thanks very much to Roger Edmondson for this.)

My photograph above shows the same bridge as it looks today.

Royal Ulster Constabulary Patrol Boat on Lough Erne.

Royal Ulster Constabulary Training Depot, Enniskillen

Royal Ulster Constabulary Training Depot at Enniskillen was formally opened in 1936. and in May 1937.

During the war the land border with neutral Eire needed to be secured and with an increase in smuggling due to goods being in short supply and subjected to rationing the R.U.C. virtually became Revenue Officers.

War-time regulations needed to be enforced such as 'black-out' requirements on house and vehicle lights.

The R.U.C. was a 'reserved occupation' meaning that Police Officers were deemed essential to the war effort on the Home Front and its members were forbidden to leave to join the other services.

The Ministry of Home Affairs finally gave approval to the enrolment of women as members of the R.U.C. on 16th April 1943. The first six selected recruits entered the Depot in Enniskillen on 15th November 1943.

The photograph abve shows the R.U.C. Depot as it looked in 1936.

My photograph below shows the Royal Ulster Constabulary Depot as seen from Portora.

Shown below are Officers being deployed with Morris Tenders during WW2. (From Arresting Memories)

Castle Hume, Enniskillen

In the top right of the photograph above you can see some concrete bases of Nissen Huts at Castle Hume.

The picture below shows a Heavy Anti-Aircraft battery in the same area. (PRONI)

Castle Coole, Enniskillen

The impressive Castle Coole is shown above with this painting having been done by Gerald V. Berry of the U.S.A.N.I.F. (United States Army Northern Ireland Force)

Gerald V. Berry was from Davenport, Iowa. (This photograph was put on the Old Fermanagh Facebook Page by Jolene)

Castle Coole in Enniskillen was used by the United States Army. 

Between 1st and 13th June 1942 it held a Headquarters and Headquarters Company of 109th Quartermaster Battalion. Other Units based here were:-

 A Military Police Platoon from 8th Infantry Division which arrived on 16th December 1943 as well as 12th Engineer Combat Battalion 8th infantry Division which was here from 15th December 1943 until 28th June 1944.

2nd Battalion 28th Infantry of 8th infantry Division who were here from 15th December 1943 until June 1944 and an Antitank Company of 28th Infantry, 8th Infantry Division which arrived on 16th December 1943.

151st Field Artillery Battalion of 34th Infantry Division U.S. Army had been at Bellerena in County Londonderry before going to Tynan Abbey in May 1942 and then onward to Castle Coole.

The picture above shows the Stable Block which was used by the soldiers.


Breandrum, Enniskillen.

Shown above is the Secret Itinerary of a Visit on 8th February 1944 to Camp Breandrum, Enniskillen by Lieutenant General George S. Patton, Commander of the Third Army.

(Many Thanks to Sheriff Johnston for these Documents)

As you will see from the pictures below Breandrum is the same area as Lower Celtic Park.

In 1942 Breandrum was used by 109th Medical Battalion (Less 2 Collecting Companies) 34th Infantry Division U.S. Army.

From December 1943 they were accompanied by 1st Battalion 28th Infantry (8th Infantry Division) consisting of a Headquarters Company along with Company A, B, C and D as well as a Service Company and Cannon Company from 28th Infantry (8th Infantry Division) (Thanks very much to Adam Surrey for the fantastic Ghost photograph)

Below the comparison pictures you can see the same large house in the background of the 3 Military Police jeeps on Dublin Road, Enniskillen.

This is an aerial photograph which was taken a few years after the War however it clearly shows both Breandrum and Celtic Park Camps.

The white houses bottom right are the same as shown in the pictures above.

The large building lower left is the old Model School behind which is now the site of the Model Primary School.

Clearly visible from left to right along the bottom of the photograph are rectangular shaped concrete based of the numerous Nissen Huts which had been erected here - Thirteen of which were still remaining in 1949 as seen here. (Photograph from the Belmore Court Motel Facebook Page)

Celtic Park can be seen lower centre of this photograph.

What is now the grass playing area of the Model Primary School is covered with concrete bases of Nissen Huts.


Elias Michael Eliasof Photograph Collection

Elias Michael Eliasof Joined the 28th Infantry Regiment, 8th Infantry Division in Tennessee.

He was a T-SGT in the Intelligence & Reconisance Platoon.
He and his Regiment arrived in Enniskillen by train on Christmas Eve 1943 and was stationed at Celtic Park for 7 months.
Like many US soldiers he became friendly with local children which lived in the nearby streets.  This is the first time these photos have been published and we hope that they will generate some memories.

The photographs show a young Ivan McCutcheon dressed in US uniform in May 1944.  Elias notes on the back of the photo ' Little Ivan McCutcheon off to the wars - swell little kid .  Butchers son - got us some swell steaks'.  The McCutcheons had a butchers shop in East Bridge Street. (PLEASE DO NOT COPY)
Another photo shows Michael himself in front of the Nisan Huts.  On the back of the photos he notes ' you still can't see ring and bracelet but they're there and still are!!'

Another photo taken in Feb 44 shows a group of four children at the Celtic Park camp.  He notes on the back 'Jeffrey, Jimmy, Michael and Cynthia in front of our hut.  Michael and Cynthia are sweethearts and are not ashamed to say so - Cute Brats.  Jimmy is wearing M/SGT Strips and an 8th Infantry patch'
Another photo show a young boy with fists raised in May 44.  He notes ' Tough Noel Ward Ragamuffin - Brat - Little Bandit.'  We believe Noel may also have lived in East Bridge Street with his father owning a shop there.  (PLEASE DO NOT COPY)

The final photo shows Enniskillen Pipe Band parading through the middle of Camp Celtic Park, leading to the Dublin Road.
Elias left Enniskillen by train in early June 1944 for Normandy and onwards to Germany.   
Elias returned home after the war and was active in the 8th Infantry Association until his late 90's. Several years ago he returned to Enniskillen to visit the town he spent 7 months in and share his memories through the photographs he took. (Thanks very much to  Elias Michael Eliasof  and Selwyn Johnston) PLEASE DO NOT COPY

Enniskillen Pipe Band Events

(Thanks very much to Selwyn Johnston for these posters)

Celtic Park Recreation Ground, Enniskillen

General Eisenhower speaking to Soldiers in Lower Celtic Park, Enniskillen on 18th May 1944 and as it looks today

(Thanks very much to Adam Surrey for this fantastic Ghost Photograph)

Here we have a photograph of General Eisenhower visiting American soldiers at Celtic Park Recreation Grounds.

Between 13th June 1942 and 14th December 1942 a Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the 109th Quartermaster Battalion, United States Army were based there along with a Maintenance Platoon who joined them on 19th June and left at the same time.

My photograph shows the same location as it looks today. It is Dublin Road, Enniskillen with the red bricked building being the old Model School.

Former GI Elmer Sellers who was stationed at Celtic Park, Enniskillen in 1943 and remembers General Eisenhower and Pattons visit, recently recalled “the war is now a distant memory but one thing I will never forget is the kindness the people of Enniskillen showed me. That will always be a cherished memory.” (Thanks to Selwyn Johnston for this Information, Photograph and Quote)

General Eisenhower reviewing a Military Exercise at Celtic Park, Enniskillen on 18th May 1944. (Sincere thanks to Selwyn Johnston)

If you look around the wooded area behind the houses shown above the concrete paths which were constructed between the Nissen Huts of the camp can still be seen.

(Thanks very much to Selwyn Johnston for these pictures)

U.S. Army Respirator Training

U.S. Army Soldiers training in use of Respirators. (Many thanks to Sheriff Johnston) 

Memorial Stone at Model Primary School, Enniskillen

A Memorial Stone was unveiled by the United States Consul General, Daniel Lawton assisted by Second World War R.A.F. Veteran Bill Eames and United States Army WW2 Veteran Teddy Dixon.

The Memorial Stone which is shown being unveiled above is now laid in the wall of Model Primary School, Enniskillen.

These are some of the photographs which were shown on the display which is seen above while the children are being shown some Second World War equipment and weapons which would have been worn and carried by United States soldiers based on the site where their Primary School now stands.

Tree Planting at Enniskillen Model Primary School

This Plaque and Oak Tree can be seen at the Front Entrance to the Model Primary School.

Here you can see the U.S. Consul General Gregory S. Burton along with Roger Edmondson and Roger's Great Neice Ella Woods.

The tree was donated by Mr. Edmondson along with his Wife, Ann and is in memory of his Father Staff Sergeant James C. Edmondson who served with A Company 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 8th Infantry Division, United States Army and was stationed beside the Model School in Celtic Park.

It should be noted that Breandrum and Celtic Park are immediately beside each other with Castle Coole only a short walk away.

Belle View, Enniskillen

In this picture you can see in the corner where there had been two showers.

This was an old Shower Block at Belle View where 28th Infantry Regiment of 8th Infantry Division, United States Army had a Headquarters, Headquarters Company, Cannon Company, Medical Detachment and Service Company.

They were based here from 15th December 1943 until July 1944.

Sligo Road, Enniskillen

This is Henry Seruga of the U.S. Army who was from Detroit, Michigan and was based at Castlecoole, Enniskillen.

He was in Signals with 8th Infantry Division, 12th Battalion, Company E, and is shown cycling along Sligo Road and his Unit left Enniskillen in June 1944.

(This picture and information comes from the book "Pardon Me Boy" by Ronnie Hanna. Google comparrison picture)

Lisgoole Abbey, Enniskillen

It is pleasing to see that a number of buildings remain to be seen in the grounds of Lisgoole Abbey.

The first and second pictures show a Shower Block while the next two are another building a short distance away.

A Collecting Company from 109th Medical Battalion, 34th Infantry Division where here in 1942.

Between 16th December 1943 and 1944 there was 8th Medical Battalion, minus Companies A and B, 8th Infantry Division.

Fusilier Robert Reilly buried in Maguiresbridge.

Fusilier Robert Reilly was serving with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

He was the son of Robert and Isabella Reilly from Lisnaskea and is buried in the roman Catholic Church in Maguiresbridge.

Lisnaskea Training Area

The townland of Carrickawick in the Knocks area of Lisnaskea was used by the U.S. Army as a Training Area.

Holy Trinity Church of Ireland, Lisnaskea

Private George Walter Fleming was serving with 9th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment Prince of Wales Own when he died on 22nd January 1940.

Corporal William Francis Phair was serving with 5th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

He was the Son of Charles and Mary Phair from Lisnaskea.

Sergeant Christopher John Morse was from London.

He was the son of Christopher William and margaret Grace Morse and was serving with 52 Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Albert Richard Ryan, North Irish Horse

Worthy of a particular mention is Private Albert Richard Ryan.

A member of Lisnaskea C Troop Ulster Volunteer Force, Enniskillen Horse during the First World War.
Served with the Ulster Special Constabulary between the Wars.
Returned to Army Service with the North Irish Horse during the Second World War!

Lived until he was 82 years old and as it says on his Headstone he was "Always A Soldier"

John Coffey from Lisnaskea.

Flight Sergeant John Bracken Coffey, Service Number 1062192 was serving as a Tail Gunner with 153 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

On the night of 4th / 5th April 1945 John had left R.A.F. Scampton in Avro Lancaster NX563 on a Mine Laying Operation in the Kattegat between Denmark, Sweden and Norway.

He was 27 years old and the Son of John and Lily Coffey from Lisnaskea, County Fermanagh and Husband of Edith Sybil Coffey, of Dungannon, Co. Tyrone.

Lancaster NX563 was shot down and the body of Flight Sergeant Coffey was never recovered. (Thanks very much to Bracken Anderson)

Lisnaskea Ground Control Intercept Station

This was built on land in the townland of Drumlught.

Lieutenant Robert Thompson Moore D.S.C. From Lisnaskea

Royal Air Force Personnel in Newtownbutler

The top photograph dates from 1943 and shows Royal Air Force personnel, along with one American, in Main Street, Newtownbutler in 1943.

The picture can be dated as the Radar Personnel are wearing the 'Sparks' trade badge.

The positioning of the Royal Air Force Chain Home Radar Station (Remaining building shown left) off Lettergreen Road in the townland of Killyroo in Newtownbutler would provide early warning of any Enemy Aircraft approaching over neutral Eire.

The Radar Station was commissioned in February 1942 and some of the buildings can be seen in this picture of John Carey taken in 1965.

(Thanks very much to John Carey and Selwyn Johnston)

This is a very interesting Envelope because it was posted in Newtownbutler on 2nd August 1943. It has a Royal Air Force Censor stamp. (Ebay)

Newtownbutler Church of Ireland

Sergeant Wireless Operator / Air Gunner Francis William Nixon was the Son of Robert James and Emily Jane Nixon from Newtownbutler.

He died on 2nd September 1943.

Fusilier Robert Bailey was serving with 5th Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers. He was the son of John and jane Bailey from Colemen Island, County Monaghan in the Republic of Ireland which was Neutral during the Second World War.