The Second World War in Northern Ireland

The Second World War in Northern Ireland

County Londonderry Part 5

Sergeant John O'Kane Royal Engineers from Londonderry.

John Francis O'Kane lived at 12 King Street, Londonderry.

He was born on 1st April 1920 and was an 18 years old Apprentice Painter when he enlisted in the Royal Engineers on 3rd November 1938.

John attained the rank of Sergeant and saw service in the Middle East, Ceylon, India and the British Liberation Army.

He served throughout the Second World War and was awarded the following medals:-

Africa Star

Burma Star

France and Germany Star

Defence Medal

1939 - 1945 War Medal.

John married Isabel Ethna McCloskey on 30th December 1947.

(Thanks very much to C Paul O Kane)

Trooper David J. Crone,  7th Queen's Own Hussars, From Londonderry

Trooper David J. Crone (seated), of Londonderry, originally a remount rider for the regiment was one of the first trained to drive a tank in 1936.
He was the tank driver of Major David Younger, B Squadron Leader. He is seated with a friend his Trooper Doyle standing.
Both were killed in action at Sidi Rezegh, 21 November 1941 and are buried at the British War Memorial Cemetry at Halfya Sollum in Egypt.
(Thanks to  The Queen's Royal Hussars Museum)

(Thanks to Robert M Massey)

Robert Crone, Royal Artillery

Robert W. Crone served with 9th (Londonderry) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery.
It is pleasing to be able to say that he durvived the war.
(Thanks to Robert M Massey)

Gunner Andrew McLaughlin, Royal Artillery.

Andrew McLaughlin, Service Number 1469020, served with 9th (Londonderry) Heavy Anty Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery.
He was trained as a Medic as well as Gunner.
He had joined the Army on 4th September 1939. The Regiment went to Blackdown for Kitting out. They crossed from Southampton to Cherbourg in very stormy conditions then   entrained for Marseilles to Alexandria arriving via Malta on 27th November 1939.

5 Light Anti Aircraft Battery of 8th Regiment, which had been at Practice Camp in England joined there in lieu of the Regiments own 6 LAA Battery.
On 16th February 1940 he was promoted to Lance Bombardier.
In January 1943 he was posted to 8th Army and served in the advance into Libya. The Afrikakorps was then only part of of the Italo-German Panzerarmaa Afrika which was had been defeated in the third and final battle of El-Alamein. 

In September 1943 he landed at Salerno in Operation Avalanche and spent some days in the Infantry role as 5th U.S. Army was beimng counter attacked by the German 10th Army. Initially defending the Port of Naples and then Allied Airfields in the area around the City, during which time 9th Regiment provided aid to the Civil Popularion following the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in March 1944.
Following the Battle of Cassino in May 1944 the Regiment moved to Anzio and then Livorno (Leghorn) protecting shipping in both instances.

From Livorno both 24 and 25 Btys deployed as Medium Artillery in support of 5th Army on the Anzio Line. 26Bty remained in Livorno then referred to as Leghorn by British Personnel (The name had been applied some centuries earlier by English Soldiers)
He was away for entire duration of war and was transferred on 4th December 1945 to Class Z Army Reserve.
On discharge his Commanding Officer described him as exemplary in his testimonial.
On looking at the attached photographs he is well hidden in the pryamid and is extreme left in boat.
He can be seen on the rear bumper of a car and writing letter home.
Shown outside cottage the day he left in 1939.
With his Elbow on Monument at Port Said. The Anzac Monument at Port Said was probably destroyed during op Musketeer, the Suez Crisis in 1956
(Thanks very much to Alan Stewart and Richard Doherty)

Amazing Connection!

Ville De Verdun was built at North of Ireland Shipbuilding Co. Pennyburn in 1921.

She was captured by the Japanese in Saigon in 1942 and renamed Teison Maru.
Later in 1942 she was torpedoed and sank by the Submarine USS Finback off the coast of Taiwan and on 2nd September 1944 USS Finback rescued downed U.S. Airman and future President George Bush from the sea off Chichi Jima, Bonin Islands.

How about that for a connection!!
(Thanks to Martin Doherty, Christopher Golly Gallagher and Derry of the Past for pictures and info)

F Company, 1st Battalion, Londonderry City Ulster Home Guard

Stand Down Parade of Ulster Home Guard at Ebrington Barracks (Ebay picture)

Robert Holmes from Londonderry.

Bert was born in 1928 and at the age of 15 joined the Merchant Marine.
He sailed on an Armed Tanker which was called Morveen / Norveen or something similar.
Bert never claimed the Medals he was entitled to however this has now been done by his Family.
He was awarded the 1939 - 1945 Star, Atlantic Star and Burma Star which has the Pacific Clasp and the 1939 - 1945 War Medal.
He may also have served on the Arctic Convoy Routes.
Having survived the war Bert returned to Londonderry and had a number of Jobs including as a Boilerman in Courtaulds.
He passed away in 2004.
(Thanks very much to Allistair Kitson)

Lawrence Oliver Plunkett McConnellogue from Derry.

Lawrence was born on 28th May 1920 in Derry, County Londonderry.


Having left school he joined the Royal Navy at Liverpool on 4th January 1939 initially volunteering for 12 months.

Having qualified as a Stoker he spent his first few years in service at H.M.S. Drake, Devonshire and Pembroke.

He was seconded to the French Foreign Legion between September and December 1940 serving in Norway before Qualifying as 22nd Royal Naval Commando.


Between 3rd September 1942 and 30th June 1946 Lawrence was involved in Combined Operations being seconded to "A" Squadron Special Air Service, Airborne and Long Range Desert Group.

Throughout this time he was involved in Operations codenamed "Dinosaur, Hamilcar and Copia"


From 1st to 28th July 1946 he was at H.M.S. Tamar which was a land establishment in Hong Kong before joining H.M.S. Bermuda on 29th July 1946.

H.M.S. Bermuda was in the Far East as the flagship of the 5th Cruiser Squadron.


He returned to H.M.S. Drake on 29th August 1947 and continued to serve with the Royal Navy including the Korean War.

Lawrence was aboard H.M.S. Unicorn I72, which had been built by Harland and Wolff in Belfast until 16th May 1953 when he went to H.M.S. Terror which was a barracks beside Singapore Naval Base.


Having returned to H.M.S. Drake on 19th May 1953 he was then at H.M.S. Raleigh and Rochester Castle before ending his service on 20th August 1956.


He had been recommended for Officer Rank in 1940 but declined!

Lawrence was recommended for the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal on 3rd October 1940.

He received the Croix de Guerre and was Mention in Despatches on two occasions for Meritorious Service.


On leaving the Royal Navy he had been awarded the following medals:-

The 1939 - 1935 Star

The Atlantic Star

The Africa Star with Mentioned in Despatches Oak Leaf

The Italy Star with Mentioned in Despatches Oak Leaf

The United Nations Korea Medal

The Naval General Service Medal

The Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.

Scrap Metal Collected in Tobermore

This photograph shows scrap metal which had been gathered in Tobermore Main Street outside Richardson's Bar.
(Thanks very much to Robin Abbott)

1st Derry City Battalion, Ulster Home Guard Review

This selection of photographs comes from the publication whose cover is shown above.

When I look at the Spigot Mortar I always think it looks more dangerous to the men firing it than any Enemy!

Cecil Alexander "Lexi" Kitson

Served with the Ulster Special Constabulary, B Specials and transferred to the Ulster Home Guard, for the duration of the War.
Photograph shows:-
Lexi Kitson, "First Aid For Fighting Men", Ulster Special Constabulary Harp and Crown Badge, Ulster Home Guard Lapel Badge, Sergeants Chevrons and Defence Medal / Ulster Special Constabulary Service Medal Ribbons. (Thanks very much to Allistair Kitson)

Sten Machine Carbine Instruction

Three United States Marines Die in Combat Exercise near Londonderry.

Three members of the United States Marine Corps died on 23rd September 1943 during a Combat Training Exercise near Londonderry.

Sergeant Fred Brevik along with Privates Hughes Gobble and James McGowan drowned whilst fording a stream. (Thanks very much to Will Lindsay)

County Derry Brothers in Law Wounded.

Margaret Roulston from Molenan, County Derry has been told her Husband, who is serving with the Royal Irish Fusiliers, has been reported Missing in the Middle East.
Margaret's Brother, William Taylor was serving in the same Unit as her Husband and has been wounded.
Another Brother, Robert Taylor, has been wounded whilst serving with the Black Watch.
From Newspaper dated 30th December 1943.
(Thanks to Seamus Breslin)

Portstewart Camp

This is a British Army Camp in the Portstewart area in 1939. Unfortunately the precise location is unknown.

(From Portadown Back In The day)

Andrew Woodrow Dunn from Londonderry

Andrew Woodrow Dunn, known as Drew to his family, was a Derryman who had joined the Royal Air Force before the war.

Dunn was a pilot and flew Armstrong Whitworth Whitleys, one of the RAF’s heavy bombers of the early-war period.

Pilot Officer Dunn served with No. 77 Squadron, the first to be equipped with the Whitley Mark V.
As with other Bomber Command squadrons the Whitleys of 77 were engaged in NICKEL raids in the early months of the war.
However, the Whitleys switched to their intended bombing role in the spring of 1940 and Dunn’s squadron was involved in a number of ‘firsts’; these included the first attack on an enemy land target, the first large raid on mainland Germany and, on the night after Italy declared war on Britain and France, the first attack on an Italian city.
The last noted took place on the night of 11/12 June and the target was the industrial city of Turin, to reach which the bombers had to fly through high Alpine passes by moonlight.

In June 1940 aircraft from No. 77 Squadron were included in a bombing force sent against targets in the Ruhr valley, Germany’s industrial heartland. Dunn was flying one of the squadron’s Whitleys that night and, as he made his run in to the target, his aircraft was subjected to intense anti-aircraft fire over a period of fifteen minutes. Several hits were made on the Whitley but none caused serious damage to the bomber.

Then a Luftwaffe nightfighter, identified as a Messerschmitt Bf 109, attacked.
The first attack disabled the inter-communication gear and also wounded the Air Observer, Sergeant Savill, and the Wireless Operator, Sergeant Dawson.
The Rear Gunner, Pilot Officer Watt, was unable to warn the Captain of the enemy fighter’s second attack, but, by quick reaction and skill in aiming, he delivered a good burst of fire at short range which destroyed the enemy.

Although the Messerschmitt had been destroyed it had managed to inflict severe damage on Dunn’s Whitley before being downed by Watt.
One of the Whitley’s two engines was knocked out, in spite of which Dunn pressed on to the target and dropped his bombs before setting course for home. With only one engine it was a slow journey homeward for the stricken bomber, which was steadily losing height.
For three and a half hours Dunn struggled with the controls and the North Sea was crossed at only 400 feet. The two injured crew members played their part with Sergeant Savill navigating the Whitley while Sergeant Dawson, operating his radio, managed to obtain a number of homing bearings which were vital in plotting the bomber’s return journey.

For his part Andrew Dunn ‘displayed resolution, courage and determination in piloting his badly damaged aircraft’.
In spite of all the crew’s efforts the Whitley was not to return to its base. Dunn was forced to land the crippled machine in the sea off the south coast but the crew was rescued speedily and taken to dry land.
All were subsequently decorated with Dunn, P.O. Montagu and P.O. Watt each receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross while Sergeants Dawson and Savill received the Distinguished Flying Medal.

Very few of those who flew on Bomber Command’s early operations were still alive at the end of the war.

Death took a heavy toll of the bomber crews and on the night of 23/24 September 1940 it claimed Andrew Dunn and his crew.
Dunn had taken off from Linton-on- Ouse, to which No. 77 Squadron had moved on 28 August, at the controls of Whitley P5046, O-Orange, bound for Berlin as part of a force of 129 Whitleys, Wellingtons and Hampdens. Bomber Command had decided to concentrate its main force on the German capital that night and this raid was, therefore, unique at this stage of the air war against the Reich.

Eighteen separate targets had been identified, including seven railway marshalling yards, six power stations, three gasworks, an aero-engine factory and an aircraft parts factory.
Over a three-hour period 112 aircraft reported dropping their bombs from heights varying from 16,000 down to 4,500 feet. However, target identification was not easy as the ground was obscured by mist and searchlights also affected vision.

It may be assumed the P5046 was one of the bombers to reach Berlin but it was hit by anti-aircraft fire and suffered serious damage.

Three bombers were lost that night, one of each type involved in the raid. The lost Whitley was P5046, Dunn’s aircraft.
Once again, Drew Dunn had tried to nurse a crippled bomber across Germany and over the North Sea. However, he was not to repeat his successful ditching in the sea.
At 5.50 am he was forced to put O-Orange down in the sea some 80 miles off the east coast.
Nothing had been heard from Dunn and his crew, and no trace of the plane was ever found. However, four days later, two survivors were picked up by the Royal Navy, although one died within hours of being plucked from the sea, leaving Sergeant G.H. Riley as the only survivor; he was treated at the Royal Naval hospital in Rosyth in Scotland.

Berlin’s records of that raid were removed by the local authorities, but it is believed that most of the bombs fell around the Moabit area where one of the power-station
targets was located and there was some slight damage to the Schloss Charlottenburg.

With his aircraft lost without trace, neither Andrew Dunn nor any of his crew has a known grave.
However, Dunn’s distraught family have commemorated him in the family plot in Londonderry City Cemetery. The inscription on the headstone indicates that Pilot Officer Andrew Woodrow Dunn DFC, was killed in action ‘during the Battle of Britain’ which would suggest to the casual visitor that he had served in Fighter Command. Had he done so, Andrew Dunn might have lived longer and may even have survived the war.
(Thanks very much to Richard Doherty for this excellent article and picture)

Londonderry Men at Anzio

Men of 2nd Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers at Anzio are shown celebrating St. Patricks Day with tots of rum.

Fusilier Moore of Cowley Hill Lane, St. Helens, Lancashire.
Fusilier O'Shea of South Douglas Road, Cork, Eire.
Sergeant Gallagher of Brandywell Avenue, Londonderry.
2nd Lieutenant Scarrall of Neston, Cheshire
Fusilier Hogg of Ballylucas, County Down
Fusilier J. Burns of Phillips Street, Londonderry.
Photograph taken 17th March 1944.
(IWM Photograph)

William McDermott from Albert Street, Londonderry Killed in Action.

Flight Sergeant (Navigator /Wireless Operator)
William McDermott, Service Number 1007187, was serving with 19 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

William was killed in Action when involved in Air Operations at Banja Luka, Yugoslavia on 18th August 1944 when he was 24 years old.
William was the Son of Robert J. McDermott and Isabella McDermott of 14 Albert Street,Londonderry.
He is buried in Belgrade War Cemetery. (Clipping from Londonderry Sentinal Newspaper. Thanks to Seamus Breslin)

William Bradley from Londonderry.

Marine William Joseph Bradley, Service Number PLY/X 3580, was serving aboard H.M.S. Fidelity which was a Royal Navy Q Ship having previously been a French boat called "Le Rhin".

Fidelity was part of Convoy ONS-154 disguised as a Merchant Ship off the Azores on the 31st December 1942 when she was struck by two torpedoes from U-435.
Although the ship sank very quickly the U-boat reported that there were lots of survivors on overcrowded rafts and swimming in the water.
None of these men were rescued and all drowned in the worsening weather.
274 crew members along with 51 Royal Marines from 40 Commando RM plus 44 survivors from other ships were lost.
(Thanks to Seamus Breslin and Britishnewspaperarchive)

Arrival of American Soldiers in Londonderry

Having arrived by ship these U.S. Army Soldiers enjoyed some hot food as seen here.

These photographs were taken on 13th May 1942. (Imperial War Museum Photographs)

Making their way along Duke Street (Imperial war Museum Photograph)

After some food it was time to march up Bonds Hill and I have included a comparrison picture of how this looks today (IWM and Google)

An American Corporal is seen top left showing a photograph of his family to a British Soldier.

Corporal Lloyd C. Carpenter had three sons in the U.S. Navy. He was from Waverley, Iowa and the Second World war was his Forth war! 

Above right Brigadier K.N. Crawford is seen with Colonel E.H.Leavy. They are also shown below left and joined by Brigadier Cuff below right.

All these photographs were taken on 5th February 1942. (Imperial War Museum photographs)

Southwest of Dungiven

This selection of photographs shows the construction of a narrow road through the Sperrin Mountains to the Southwest of Dungiven by 61st Division, Royal Engineers 

(Imperial War Museum Photographs)

Units involved included 297, 582, 583 and 584 Companies, Royal Engineers.

All thes photographs were taken on 21st November 1942.

This location is recorded as being "Templemoyle" which is shown in the Townland Map below ( From

I believe this narrow road is on the northern side of the river above Glenedra Road (Bing Maps)

News Article from 'Ernie Pyle in Ireland'

(Thanks very much to Robert A Mosher)

(Thanks very much to Robert A Mosher)

Derry Wedding, Aircraft Identification and a Body at Magilligan.

The War Office had asked that the images of a German Junkers JU52 Troop Transport aircraft be published to assist people in Aircraft Identification.
The Wedding took place of George Austin of Victoria Park, Londonderry who was serving as a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and Harriett Craig from Ard-Cluan, Waterside.
A Body was washed up on Magilligan Strand with a P.M. showing death was by drowning. - I wonder if this man was ever identified?
Any information regarding this would be very much appreciated.
(Thanks to Seamus Breslin)

W.V.S. in Derry Need Volunteers & Death of Richard Lowry.

This Newspaper article refers to a Public Meeting which was held in the Guildhall, Londonderry where Admiral Archdale appealed for more Volunteers.
Coroners Enquiry.
An Enquiry by the Coroner found that Richard Blair Foster Lowry of Springtown was fatally injured during the Blackout at Rosemount Factory.
(From Derry Edition of Belfast Telegraph. Thanks to Gordon Porter)

Derry Home Guard First Aid Courses

(Thanks very much to Gordon Porter)

Corporal David Porter from Londonderry.

Corporal David Porter was from Londonderry and serving with 4th Division, Petrol Company, Royal Army Service Corps, British Expeditionary Force.
This is a Post Card photograph of him which was posted home.
(Thanks very much to Gordon Porter)

Postcard sent by David Porter to his Brother, Albert (Bertie).

The Post Card above incorporates a Shamrock.

Posted to his Family. As with all others there is no date other than the 1940 on the card. (Thanks to Gordon Porter)

David Porter, Royal Army Service Corps, from Londonderry

David Porter, was born in Gloucester Avenue, Londonderry, in 1914.
He enlisted in the Irish Guards in 1933 but was discharged a few months later when found to be underage. After a spell in the police service, he re-enlisted in the Royal Army Service Corps in March 1939.
During the war he saw service in France and was evacuated from Dunkirk. When he came back from Dunkirk he was posted to Somerset. There he met and married a nurse who came to live in Castlerock when the war had ended.
Following Dunkirk David served in both North Africa and Italy.
Staying in the Army he was in Kenya during the Mau Mau trouble and Suez.
He left the army in December 1961 and the Family came back from Germany and settled in Somerset.
Sadly David Porter died in 1973.
The photo shows him driving an Albion truck in France in 1940.
(Thanks very much to Kenneth Porter)

(Thanks very much to Gordon Porter for these pictures)

(Thanks very much to Gordon Porter)

Londonderry Civil Defence

From 'The Derry Standard' dated Monday 8th December 1941.
(Thanks to Gordon Porter)

American Servicemen Howard Marshall Killed in Accident

SF3C Howard Nelson Marshall from Hyde Park, Suffolk County, Massachusetts was 42 years old when he died on 25th July 1943.

He is buried in Cambridge American Cemetery, England. (Thanks to Will Lindsay)