The Second World War in Northern Ireland

The Second World War in Northern Ireland

County Londonderry Part 5

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)

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)