S.A.S. Soldier from Randalstown Murdered by the Gestapo.
At 23.34 on the night of 4th July 1944 Captain Garstin and eleven other S.A.S. Soldiers took off from Keevil Airfield in a Short Stirling aircraft to be dropped by parachute behind enemy lines at near La Ferte-Alais to the south of Paris as part of “Operation Gain”
The Unit had been divided into two groups with all of the Northern Ireland soldiers being with Captain Garstin and Lance Corporal Vaculik who was Free French.
French Resistance Fighters had been informed of the parachute drop however two of them believed that a third, who used to take used parachutes and sell them in Paris, was missing for some time and may have been captured by the Gestapo.
On the previous night of 3rd / 4th July a coded BBC radio message had been received by the Resistance Fighters telling them of a Parachute Drop however on that occasion the flight was cancelled with insufficient time to inform the French.
Ominously while they waited at the Drop-Zone some automatic gunfire was heard in the area.
The following night the Resistance again went to the same location having received another coded message via BBC Radio however on this occasion the first two Frenchmen to arrive were fired on and killed by Germans and all of the others, except one, returned home not knowing that the Germans knew the recognition letter for the drop which was “B for Bertie”
At 01.53 the S.A.S. parachuted from the aircraft with most landing on the Drop Zone, which was a field of wheat, whilst the final five to jump had landed in a Wood. At the edge of the D.Z. was a group of men wearing civilian clothes who greeted Captain Garstin with the words “Vive la France” immediately after which the soldiers came under fire from automatic weapons.
There was a brief exchange of fire however it soon became obvious that the S.A.S. were surrounded and subsequently Vaculik was captured at 06.00 and Corporal Jones an hour later. - They soon learned that Captain Garstin, Lieutenant Wiehe, Trooper Thomas James “Tot” Barker (Previously of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and from Cookstown, County Tyrone) and Lance Corporal Howard Lutton (Who had been Army Air Corps and from County Armagh) had also been captured after being wounded.
Lance Corporal Lutton subsequently died of his wounds and is buried in Clichy Northern Cemetery.
Captain Garstin and Trooper Barker received hospital treatment for their wounds whilst the other men were initially taken to a converted Hotel near Champ de Mars in central Paris and then a Gestapo Headquarters where they were kept and interrogated for three days before being returned to the converted hotel.
A day or two later Captain Garstin and Trooper Barker were reunited with the other soldiers however Captain Garstin was very weak.
On 8th August all of the soldiers were given civilian clothing and told that they were to be exchanged for German Agents who were held by the British in London and that they were required to wear civilian clothing to ensure that they could pass through civilian areas.
At 01.00 the following morning all of the men were told to board a lorry and were driven north of Paris.
About five hours later they reached a Wood which was East of Noailles and here they were ordered out of the lorry and told to walk along a narrow path to a clearing in the Wood.
Corporal Vaculik asked if they were to be shot and received a reply to that effect.
The S.A.S. men were lined up from left to right Jones, Captain Garstin, Corporal Vaculik, Varey, “Tot” Barker, Joseph Walker (From Moira, County Down) and William Pearson “Billy” Young (Previously Royal Ulster Rifles and from Randalstown, County Antrim), although it is not certain if the order was Barker, Walker or Walker, Barker.
Facing the men were a number of Gestapo. Two Officers who were armed with Sten guns at the ready whilst another read out the Sentence. A Sergeant of the Gestapo who translated and a Gestapo Agent in civilian clothes.
The Sentence was as follows :- “For having wished to work in collaboration with the French Terrorists and thus to endanger the German Army, you are condemned to the Penalty of Death and will be Shot”
On hearing the word “Shot” all of the men tried to escape into the woods.
Corporal Vaculik managed to get away while Corporal Jones tripped and fell. The Gestapo men ran past him thinking he was dead and when he got up again he saw four bodies lying where they had been shot but could not identify them before he tried to escape.
This Incident was investigated by Captain Sadler and Major Poat of the S.A.S. who visited Noailles around 20th September and on speaking with the local Resistance Leader he showed them where he believed the murders had taken place and also where the bodies of the S.A.S. soldiers were buried.
A grave had been dug in a wooded area about two miles from where the shooting had taken place and near a large chateau that is approximately one mile to the east of Noailles.
The Resistance fighter said that the Germans had a two day Curfew in place following the shooting and were searching for the bodies of Soldiers Jones and Vaculik.
The bodies of 5 murdered S.A.S. men lay at the scene for three days before finally being buried by a German Army Unit consisting of one Officer and approximately nine men who had been in the Chateau.
During the Investigation it was necessary to open the grave and on doing so a total of five bodies were found. All of them were dressed in civilian clothing and showed signs of having been handcuffed.
One of the bodies was identified as that of Captain Garstin.
All of the bodies were subsequently buried in Marrissel Cemetery at Beauvais with Captain Garstin being grave number 325 and the others 326 - 329.
The Gestapo had tried to conceal their actions so the Investigation looked into the Germans who had occupied the Chateau who had buried the bodies.
A woman Collaborator, who had worked for the Germans in the Chateau and believed that they had been a Luftwaffe Signal Section, identified a number of the soldiers including Captain Hans Garling, Officer Hans Zool and Oberfeldwebel Gall.
(My Sincere thanks to Janice Surgenor and Sheldon Murray for their assistance)
Billy Young's Headstone in Marissel French National Cemetery, Beauvail which is between Amiens and Paris.
From left to right are the headstones of Patrick Garstin, Thomas Barker, Thomas Varey (From York), Joseph Walker and William Young. (Thanks to Colin Heyburn)
(Thanks very much to Andrew Charles) for the above photograph)
Sergeant Wireless Operator / Air Gunner George Ernest McGeown died on 1st February 1943.
He had been a Crew Member aboard Vickers Wellington X9755 of Number 26 Operational Training Unit which took off from from Little Horwood for an evening training exercise.
During the flight the starboard engine caught fire and all efforts to extinguish the flames were unsuccessful.
While attempting to force-land at 18.50 Hrs the aircraft hit some trees and crashed near Beachampton Rectory,Beachampton, 4 miles ENE of Buckingham.
Three of the crew were killed with two sustaining injuries.
Sergeant McGeown is buried in Church of Ireland, Holy Trinity, Aghalee.
Shown below is the A.M. Form relating to the Wellington Aircraft.
(Thanks very much to David Smith Bill Chorley's Bomber Command Losses Vol 7 OTUs)
This Pillbox is situated in Randalstown Forest.
I believe it is a Type 22 with 2 ports covering the entrance in the back while there are 5 ports covering the sides and front with one central brick pillar supporting the concrete roof.
Another Randalstown Pillbox
This Pillbox is in the same general area as the one shown above.
As can be seen from my photographs weathering it taking its toll much more on this example than previous. Shutters and door remain however are badly rusted.
Randalstown Market Yard
To the back of Randalstown Library in New Street is the old Market Yard.
The two Nissen Huts which remain to be seen were constructed during WW2 by the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers of the British Army and were later used by American Troops.
Randalstown Garden of Remembrance
The Royal British Legion Garden of Remembrance can be found on Portglenone Road.
Flight Sergeant James Smyth, 1504638 was serving with 166 Squadron and is buried in Hanover War Cemetery, Germany.
Gunner Hugh Fullerton served with 20 Battery, 2 Heavy Anti-Aircraft Royal Artillery.
Sergeant Air Gunner Thomas Hughes, 1796514, was serving with 630 Squadron, Royal Air Force and is buried in Rheinberg War Cemetery north of Cologne.
630 Squadron were part of 5 Group flying Lancaster Bombers.
The Squadron Crest has the Motto "Death By Night"
Lancaster Mk III ND337, "LE-S", of which Sergeant Hughes was a Crew Member, was airborne from East Kirkby in Lincolnshire on 30th March at 22.09 to bomb a target at Nurnberg but whilst on the outbound flight they were attacked and shot down by a Night Fighter crashing at Bickenbach 4km Southwest of Emmelshausen.
Six of the crew died with Sergeant R.I Smith surviving and being confined in hospital due to his injuries.
Smith stated "The aircraft was on fire and the captain ordered "Abandon". I was first out from my end but lost conscious immediately when leaving and did not see anyone else bale out. When I regained consciousness I did not see the aircraft in the air but there were fires on the ground which may have been our aircraft. I landed in hilly country and out of sight of fires and unable to investigate."
ND337 was one of three 630 Squadron Lancasters lost on this operation.
Serjeant Stewart Houston was serving with 2nd Battalion, Irish Guards when he was killed in action at Outreau, Boulogne-Sur-Mer.
He was 21 years old when he died between 23rd May 1940 and 4th June 1940 and is buried in Outreau Cemetery.
Fatal Brawl in Randalstown
(Thanks to Alan Freeburn N.I.W.M.)
St Joseph's Church, Glenavy
Pilot Officer (Pilot) Joseph Jeffrey Ian Beedham was serving with 245 (Northern Rhodesia) Squadron, Royal Air Force.
He was flying Hawker Hurricane Mk 1 N2707 from R.A.F. Aldergrove when he has an engine failure on Take-Off and crashed.
Sergeant Franciszec Pretkiewick died on 30th November 1940 in his 245 Squadron Hurricane R4079 "DX-E"
Flying Officer, Navigator Righard Henry Appleyard died with the rest of his crew when Liberator KG896 crashed. 1674 Heavy conversion Unit, 17 Group, RAF Coastal Command had been operating from RAF Aldergrove training crews post-OTU in Leigh Light tactics and familiarisation with the Liberators flown on operational service. Halifax and B 17 training was also carried out. Most anti-submarine exercises where held over Lough Neagh where radar homing sorties were practised against a moored launch or buoy . The Leigh Light attack profile was typically at 50 ft above the waters surface and the crews were required to practise day or night! Bearing in mind the high terrain near Belfast it was normal for crews to carry out these runs flying North to South over the Lough. The radar altimeter on the Liberator is quoted as being accurate to one foot but instructors have often commented that flying an aircraft in this mode was a very difficult task bearing in mind the often apparent routine skills required for convoy escort duty. Only the month before a Liberator had crashed at night on a radar homing sortie with the pilot co-pilot and one wireless operator surviving. The 7 remainder all perishing in the crash.
The Crew :Instructor F/O Cecil Honey WOP/AIR [ ex 59 Sqn Coastal Command],F/O William Holmes RNZAF Pilot,F/O Alan James Pryde RAAF 2nd Pilot,F/O Richard Appleyard Navigator,F/O Stanley Sargent,Navigator, F/O William Cheyne Wireless Operator / Air Gunner Sgt Oliver Aston A/GSgt Archibald Bates Wireless Operator / Air Gunner Sgt Patrick McNeilly WOP/AIR Sgt Ronald Edge, WOP/AIR Sgt Rolinson Hook Flight Engineer
Belfast was still operating black out restrictions when the aircraft took off approximately 02:00 hr's & the pilot was instructed to circle airfield until further notice. Shortly thereafter it crashed into the 900ft high Tornagrough Mountain 6 miles S/W of Belfast with all crew on board being killed. The wreckage was examined at first light the next day and it was apparent the aircraft had clipped the top of the mountain with the subsequent destruction of the lower portion of the fuselage. The aircraft then came to rest in the next valley. The Court of Inquiry commented that auto-pilot had been selected below the minimum safety height with the resulting accident. It was not established practise on the unit to utilise the automatic flight controls on local training sorties.
Five of the crew were buried with full military honours in Eglantine church Nr Hillsborough, Northern Ireland. They are as follows:
F/O William Holmes aged 23 of Pukkohe East, New Zealand.
F/O Alan Pryde aged 23 of Oatlands, Tasmania, Australia.
Sgt Rolinson Hook aged 22 of Totton, Hampshire, England.
Sgt Oliver Aston aged 19 of West Derby, Liverpool, England.
Sgt Ronald Edge aged 23 of Highams Park, Essex, England.
On the night of 28th / 29th August Sergeant Desmond Francois George Sanders was killed when his 22 Squadron aircraft hit trees on approach to the Airfield. He was undergoing Training as an Observer.
On 10th August Fortress FK207 left Nutts Corner to carry out a night Convoy Operational Patrol and on passing over the airfield at 2330 it turned left as if to return to the runway then dived into the ground caught fire and disintegrated with the bomb load exploding. - Sergeant Wireless Operator / Air Gunner Philip Gerard Foster was killed in this crash.
He was the Son of Philip and Evelyn May Foster from Parkestone in Dorsetshire.
On 1st June 1942 Sergeant/ Air Gunner Thomas O'Shea was serving with 160 Squadron, Royal Air Force and a Crew Member on Liberator AL520 which was carrying out a Convoy Escort.
The aircraft was fired upon by the Convoy it was escorting and Sergeant O'Shea was killed
Sergeant O'Shea was the Son of Patrick and Hannah O'Shea from Killenaule, County Tipperary in the Republic of Ireland.
Sergeant Wireless Operator / Air Gunner Joseph Edmond Romeo Cote was serving with the Royal canadian Air Force. He was the Son of Joseph and helena Cote from Chicoutimi, Quebec, Canada.
Flight Sergeant / Navigator Harold Vincent Heaton was Killed in the same crash as Warrant Officer Lenz shown above and Sergeant Jack Lloyd Snider shown on the right.
Halifax II, DT642 of 1674 Heavy Conversion Unit had taken-off from R.A.F. Aldergrove on a routine flight.
Whilst over the grounds of Antrim Castle the aircraft turned suddenly and lost height. It's wings clipped large trees at Clotworthy House, and were torn off.
The aircraft continued for a short distance before coming to a halt at what is now the site of the Antrim Forum.
There was a large explosion and fire which was eventually extinguished.
Six bodies were located at the crash site, one with a opened parachute on, and three more bodies found the following morning on the opposite side of the Sixmilewater river.
There was a stark reminder of the crash six months later when a bomb was found close to the site of the crash, two officers from aldergrove worked on the bomb, it was eventually detonated
Crashed on take-off Masarene Estate (Shane's Castle) NW of Aldergrove. Killed were:
W/O¹ Lambert W. LENZ - RCAF R/107081
Sgt John H. EDWARDS - 1377545
Sgt Reginald W. COOK - 2207562
F/Sgt Harold V. HEATON - RCAF R/164292
Sgt Edward R. TURRILL - 1321277
Sgt Jack L. SNIDER - RCAF R/200675
F/O Gordon FRASER - RCAF J/29239
Sgt Leonard M. HEMBRUFF - RCAF R/184294
Sgt Graham N. THOMAS - 1875685 (Meteo Office Aldergrove)
Flight Sergeant (Pilot) Bernard Morgan was serving with 206 Squadron, Royal Air Force.
On 24th September 1941 he was aboard Lockheed Hudson AM664/B of 206 Squadron crashed just outside the Aldergrove Airfield boundary.
The aircraft was leaving to escort the "Australia Star" however there was a problem with the ailerons and the crew were attempting to return to Aldergrove when they crashed and burned killing all of the Crew.
Flight Sergeant Morgan was the Son of William Henry and Margaret Morgan and the husband of Nancy Morgan from Llandaff, Glamorgan.
(Thanks very much to RAFCommands.com)
Sergeant Patrick William John Morrow of 196 Squadron, Royal Air Force.
Sergeant Morrow was serving with 196 Squadron, Royal Air Force.
On the night of 28th April 1943 he was aboard Vickers Wellington X aircraft HE220 which took off from R.A.F. Leaconfield in Yorkshire at 20.45 hrs to perform mine laying duties in the Forgetmenots Region, being Kiel Canal. The aircraft and crew was lost without trace.
Patrick William John was the Son of Francis and Margaretta Morrow of Dunmurry, County Antrim. (Info from Aircrew Remembered.)
Dundrod Orange Hall
Dundrod Orange Hall was used as a Billet for W.A.A.F. Personnel.
Knockmore at Lisburn was a considerable Military Site.
American Soldiers arrived in September 1942 with both Company B and Company C 71st Ordnance Battalion (light Maintenance) being here until November 1942 and from the following month there were Maintenance Shops at the site.
71st Ordnance Medium Maintenance Battalion of 5 Corps were here from 12th September 1943 until 10th January 1943 and in November 1943 a number of other Units arrived.
883d Ordnance Heavy Automotive Maintenance Company from 17th November until 11th June 1944, Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment 22d Ordnance Battalion and 518th Ordnance Medium Maintenance Company from 20th November 1943 until 8th May 1944.
From 29th November 1943 - 10th August 1944 this location was designated Depot O-601.
158th Ordnance Tyre Repair Company were here from 22nd January 1944 and from 26th January 1944 until 1st March 1944 this was Headquarters 8th Infantry Division.
From March 1944 until 13th August 1944 994th Ordnance Heavy Automotive Maintenance Company were here.
A special railway siding was constructed and the photographs above show the siding with the aerial picture below showing the large concrete area required for all this maintenance which remains.
You can see the concrete area on the right with the siding to the left of the road. (Google picture)
Lisburn Cemetery - Samuel Dougherty
This is the final resting place of Corporal Samuel Dougherty who served with Number 4 Bomb Disposal Company, Royal Engineers based at Bury St Edmunds.
Corporal Dougherty was the Son of Samuel and Elizabeth Dougherty and was married to Annie Dougherty.
You will see from this headstone that he died after "Victory in Europe" Day.
The bottom of the headstone says "He Died That We Might Live" which was particularly accurate in the case of Samuel Dougherty because he lost his life while involved in Mine Clearance Operations in the Horsey area of Norfolk which had been heavily mined at the start of the Second World War due to the threat of Invasion.
United States Army Air Force Radio Beacon - Antrim
This was part of the United States "Army Airways Communication System" - I have more information about how this worked in the County Fermanagh Part 2 section of this website relating to the Radio Station at Magheramenagh near Belleek.
As with the Magheramenagh site only one building remains as shown here.
Churchill Tank at Carrickfergus
This Churchill Tank can be seen at Marine Highway in Carrickfergus.
There is an Information Board beside the vehicle with more information available from the local Tourist Centre in a small booklet called "Carrickfergus, Harland and Wolff, The Churchill Tank and the North Irish Horse."
25Pdr Field Gun at Carrickfergus
This 25Pdr Field Gun, which dates from 1940, is in the same immediate area as the Churchill Tank beside the War Memorial at Marine Highway.
The Memorials shown below are both beside the Field Gun and Churchill Tank.
Carrickfergus Military Detention Barracks
This is the old Sullatober Mill at Carrickfergus.
This building was a "Royal Naval Detention Centre" and was operated as such in 1942.
Indeed even the Royal Australian Navy "Admiralty Fleet Orders" of January 1943 state "Offenders sentenced to detention in Northern Ireland should be sent to the MILITARY DETENTION BARRACKS, CARRICKFERGUS" while Romie Lambkin speaks in her book "My Time in the War" of a visit during 1943 to "Carrickfergus Detention Camp"
In the latter years of the war I have been told that Italian Prisoners of War were put to work here however I have not found any written documentation to confirm this and neither Sullatober or indeed Carrickfergus appear on the list of Prisoner of War camps.
Brecart Lodge, Toome
Brecart Lodge was used by 509 Engineer Company (Light Pontoon) of the United States Army.
I am always looking for some evidence of those who served at the places I am visiting and were we have L/Cpl Stacey Biscuit Basher with the last word possibly being "Reading" which may be his home town in which case he is an Englishman from the Thames Valley.
The Actor Richard Todd spent much of his childhood at Brecart Lodge with his Stepfather S.R. Hunter and has written of his time at Brecart Lodge in his Autobiography.
At the beginning of the Second World War he enlisted into the Army and subsequently received a Commission in 1941.
Having first served in the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry he was in the Army Mountain Warfare Unit in Iceland then transferred to the 7th Parachute Battalion of the 6th Airborne Division and was on the first Assault of Operation Overlord on D-Day
His Battalion parachuted in after the initial glider-borne forces had landed, attacked and subsequently secured what was to become known as Pegasus Bridge.
Todd met Major John Howard, who was in Command of the Attack, on the bridge and secured the defences of the Bridge and fought off a number of German counterattacks.
My upper photograph shows an original picture of the Bridge after it had been secured. - The Horsa Gliders which had carried the attacking Troops are clearly visible.
My second photograph shows the actual Pegasus Bridge as it looks now in the Museum immediately beside where it stood at the time of the Battle.
U.S. Army Paratrooper who lived in Toome
American Paratroopers on Exercise at Newferry
Soldiers of 82nd Airborne Division, U.S. Army posing for the cameras.
A Sergeant is shown checking the Parachute of a Soldier prior to the drop.
Air Vice Marshal J Cole Hamilton, Royal Air Force is shown with 82nd Airborne Division Lieutenant Colonel Edison Raff and Group Captain S. Gray, Royal Air Force who are looking at a map and pointing in the general direction of the Drop Zone at Newferry. This Exercise took place on 7th October 1942. (Imperial War Museum Photographs)
Soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division, United States Army are seen in a Parachute Drop during a Training Exercise at Newferry between Randalstown and Portglenone. (Imperial War Museum Photographs)
"Union Lodge Camp" and The Demesne, Toome
This location is between the Roguery Road and Ballymatoskerty Road, Toome.
American soldiers were based here and constructed a number of concrete lanes, as shown above while the picture below may show what was a Vehicle Inspection Pit.
Belgian soldiers were also based here after the Americans had left and this was known to the Belgians as "Union Lodge Camp" with Union Lodge being the name of a House on Ballymatoskerty Road.
The 4th Infantry Brigade, known as "Steenstraete" was raised on 15th March 1945 and it's 1st Battalion was based here at "Union Lodge Camp" before leaving in September of that year.
Ballyclare Mural remembering Locals who served in the Second World War.
Junior Engineer Officer William Hugh Grange was 27 years old and serving on M.V. Empire Comet.
The ship was a straggler at the rear of Convoy HX174 when, at 22:17 (German time) on 17 February 1942 she was struck by two torpedoes which had been fired by U-Boat U-136 under the command of Heinrich Zimmerman.
William Grange was 27 years old and the Son of William Hugh and Rebecca Grange.
Third Radio Officer John Saunderson was serving with the canadian Merchant Navy aboard S.S.Hartington which was a British Cargo Steamer of 5,496 tons.
On the 2nd November 1942 the ship had left Halifax for Belfast with Convoy SC-107. Carrying 8,000 tons of wheat along with 6 tanks as deck cargo the Hartington became a straggler and was torpedoed by German submarines U-522 and U-438.
Although damaged the ship did not sink but was finished off by German submarine U-521 some hours later.
The Master along with 21 crew members and two gunners were lost however 17 crew members and seven gunners were rescued by HMS Winchelsea and landed at St.Johns.
Aircraftman 1st Class Nathaniel McGrady, Service Number 630150, was serving with the Royal Air Force.
He was with 949 Balloon Squadron who were based at Crewe when he died on 20th June 1940.
Nathaniel was the Son of Mr. and Mrs. William McGrady, of Ballyclare.
Bowlee Barrage Balloon
A Manchester City Police photographer was on hand to record this image a barrage balloon at a testing centre in Bowlee, Middleton in the early years of World War 2.
Barrage balloons were used as a defence against enemy aircraft and were a common site over major towns and cities at the time. By mid 1940 it is estimated that over 1400 balloons were in service.
(Thanks to G.M.P.)
Royal Engineers in the Ballyclare Area.
These pictures show "82nd Chemical Warfare Company, 6th Chemical Warfare Group, Royal Engineers near Ballyclare.
The first photograph shows vehicles having arrived at the planned firing position and here you can see the racks being unloaded and prepared.
Rockets being loaded onto the firing racks - It is important to note that these are marked as "Drill" rockets.
Royal Engineers Lieutenant prepares Ripple Fire Box
This final photograph shows the Rockets being Fired.
(All photographs are from the Imperial War Museum. See http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections)
Do you know where this is or do you have any information about the Royal Engineers in the Ballyclare area? If so please E-Mail me.
"Monty's Lounge" Ballyclare.
At The Square in Ballyclare is a Licensed Premises which has the wording "Above all others" included in the printing on the side of the building.
The story behind this wording is that the Grange family, who were the owners of the premises during the Second World War, were travelling by car from their home to the pub when they saw some barrage balloons overhead with cables securing them to the ground.
One of these barrage balloons broke loose from its mooring and the trailing cable caught the Grange family car and lifted it off the ground causing it to become stuck in a tree.
No injuries were sustained however all the passengers suffered from shock.
Following this experience the family created a label for their whiskey and wine bottles featuring the silver barrage balloon above the name JW GRANGE, FINE WINES AND SPIRITS, and the motto “Above all others,” underneath.
The motto is shown above as it looks today!
Ballyclare War Memorial
This is Ballyclare War Memorial.
The notice showing Aircraft Crash Sites in to the left of the Memorial.- Details are shown below.
First World war Captured German Guns in Ballyclare
These photographs were taken on 10th April 1941 (All from Imperial War Museum)
Big Collin Mountain Aircraft Crash Sites
During the Second World War there were two aircraft crashed on Big Collin Mountain near Ballyclare.
On 31st October 1941Bristol Blenheim Z6273 was being flown from Number 5 Air Observers School at R.A.F. Jurby, Isle of Man on a cross country Navigation Exercise when it crashed at Tildarg on the southern slopes of Big Collin.
The following Crew were killed:-
Sergeant William Amos Scott Doig, Pilot
Leading Aircraftsman Peter Ernest Coles, Observer under Training
Leading Aircraftsman Robert Desmond Connell, Observer under Training
Leading Aircraftsman Ivor John Urwin, Observer under Training.
On 16th February 1945 Consolidated Liberator Bomber EV954 was being flown from R.A.F. Aldergrove by a Crew from Number 1674 Heavy Conversion Unit, Number 17 Group, Coastal Command.
They were training in the use of Night Time Radar Homing when, at 04.30, the aircraft crashed on the Eastern slope of Big Collin Mountain.
Seven of the Crew were killed whilst three survived.
Those who lost their lives were:-
Flight Lieutenant Kenneth Douglas Faulkner D.F.C. - Navigator
Flying Officer Ernest Reginald Matthews Wireless Operator / Air Gunner
Flying Officer Peter Gordon Sim M.I.D. Wireless Operator / Air Gunner
Flying Officer Allan Floyd Whitney R.C.A.F., Navigator
Sergeant Henry Edward Benwell, Air Gunner
Sergeant Albert Bladon, Air Gunner
Sergeant John Edward Morgan, Wireless Operator / Air Gunner
The Survivors were:-
Flying Officer Peter Cecil Eustace Cox, Pilot
Pilot Officer Garrett James Fenwick, R.A.A.F. Co-Pilot
Sergeant William Howden, Wireless Operator / Air Gunner
An Information Notice the same as the one shown above can be seen near the crash sites in a Lay-By on the B94 road between Ballyclare and The Battery.
Wellington Bomber Crash Site, Giants Causeway.
To find the location of this Memorial go to the Causeway Hotel (NOT The "Giant's Causeway" Car Park as this will cost you a small fortune!) at Causeway Road Bushmills.
From the Hotel take the signposted Cliff Path in the opposite direction from the Causeway towards Runkerry Head.
Two of the photographs above show a Commemoration at the Crash Site.
(Many thanks to Ronnie Gamble.)
***Please go to County Londonderry Part 2 to see the headstones of the two Airmen killed in this crash.***
Slaght Road, Ballymena
I went to Slaght Bridge to try and do a "Then and Now" type comparison picture however there is more of a story to this than I had expected.
The Home Guard in the Area had been dispatched to various important bridges with instruction to put Prepared Demolition Charges into place and one of these was Slaght Bridge.
The problem was that the Military were rather overenthusiastic and rather than simply placing the Explosive Charge they were Blowing Up the Bridges!
After a while the mistake was realised....and the bridges were rebuilt.
The pontoon bridge has a C8 Quad Artillery Tractor crossing while pulling a 25Pdr Field Gun on 26th June 1942.
You may be able to see the different brickwork in the bridge picture while in one of the supports is another of the holes which were made for a Prepared Demolition Charge.
Thanks very much to Ed Luke for all his help.(Old photographs from I.W.M.)
The King and Queen watching an Exercise at Slaght Bridge, Ballymena
The King and Queen on top of the Bridge along with senior Officers watch Units of the 61st Division on 26th June 1942 (Imperial War Museum Photographs)
Use of bridging equipment and moving an Anti-Tank Gun across the river
This Parade took place in front of the King and Queen on 26th June 1942 involving Soldiers from 59th Division (Imperial War Museum Photographs)
Belgian Army Soldiers on the North Coast.
These first two pictures show soldiers from the Belgian Army using the Narrow Gauge Electric Train from Portrush to the Giant's Causeway.
There is then a picture of Belgian soldiers at the Giants Causeway and finally sitting on rocks at the Portrush coastline on 19th August 1945.
(Many thanks to Ronny Soetens for his assistance)
Belgian Soldiers at the Giants Causeway (Thanks very much to Stevie Kerr) ****PLEASE DO NOT COPY*****
North Irish Horse on Patrol in the Causeway Coast Area
This photograph shows North Irish Horse "Humberette" Armoured cars on Patrol in the Causeway Coast Area in 1941.
(Thanks very much to Bracken Anderson) *****PLEASE DO NOT COPY THIS ITEM*****
North Irish Horse vehicles crossing the River Bush via the Serenil Bridge on 28th January 1941 (IWM and Google)
Queen Mother visiting Ballymena Castle
This is the Queen Mother visiting a Camp in the grounds of Ballymena Castle.
She appears to be wearing the same clothes as in the visit to Larne shown below which dates this picture to 26th June 1942.
(Thanks very much to Ed Luke for the picture).
King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Visit Larne
Shown here are photographs of a gathering of Officers prior to the arrival of the Royal party.
Centre and left in the photographs are British Army Officers along with a couple of Royal Air Force Officers.
The group to the right are United States personnel and in the last photograph the two Officers on the right are Police from the Royal Ulster Constabulary.
(Life Magazine Pictures)
The selection of photographs below show Senior Officers and various dignitaries gathering at what was the Olderfleet Hotel beside the harbour in Larne.
During the Second World War this was used as a Naval Base and in some of the photographs a sign is visible saying "NAVAL BASE. NO ADMITTANCE EXCEPT ON DUTY"
(These are Life Magazine photographs)
King George VI and Queen arriving in Larne aboard H.M.S. Bicester on 26th June 1942.
Royal Navy personnel and United States Marines being inspected by the King in Larne. (IWM Photos)
The King Inspects members of the United States marine Corps at Larne on 26th June 1942. (Life Magazine Picture)
This first comparison shows United States Marine Corps being inspected with the Harbour Master Office in the background and my photograph of how the same scene looks today.
Part of the crowd trying to catch a glimpse of the Royals. (Life Magazine photographs)
The visitors make their way towards the Harbour.
(The black and white photographs are from the Life David E Scherman collection available at http://images.google.com/hosted/life/e1576911f4631421.html )
These three photographs are from the Imperial War Museum
The two photographs above show that the Royal Standard is flown when the royal party are on board. (Life Magazine photographs)
Talking with Officials before boarding H.M.S. Bicester.
A Crowd watches as the Ship pulls away from the dock. (Life Magazine photographs)
The King and Queen leaving Larne on H.M.S. Bicester on 26th June 1942. (Imperial War Museum Photographs)
Robert Johnston from Larne.
Rifleman Robert Johnston came from Ballymena Road, Larne.
This photograph was taken in the Trieste area during a Recruiting Campaign for 1st London Irish Rifles. (Iwm photograph)
Sandy Bay Playing Fields, Larne.
Those using these Playing Fields may be interested in the history of the 2 Buildings shown here.
The concrete base in the picture above may have been another building which was used in connection with the others as indicated by the heavy metal shutters on the main building in this picture.
I believe these buildings were both Electricity Generator Buildings for use with Searchlights which were positioned at the Playing Fields.
Below you can see inside the building and you can see in the centre of the floor where the concrete plinth was on which would have stood the electrical generator.
This excellent photograph shows the Generator Buildings on the lower side of the pitch and Gun Battery on the Shoreline.
(Thank-you very much to Nat Magee for his Photographs)
This picture shows U.S. Army soldiers playing American Football on the Pitch which is in the photograph above. My photograph below shows the houses in the background as seen from Tower Road. (Belfast Telegraph)
This photograph shows the Port side of the Gun Battery with Nissen Huts where Larne Port now stands.
Sadly I have been unable to find any evidence remaining of the various structures shown here.
James Blair was serving with 2nd Battalion The London Irish Rifles, Royal Ulster Rifles and was 21 years old when he was Killed in Action in Italy. He is buried in the Santerno Valley War Cemetery.
Cecil Frederick Bigley was serving on H.M.T. British Honduras which was a Trawler involved in Anti-Submarine Warfare.
David Craig was an Able Seaman in the Merchant Navy.
Sergeant Wireless Operator / Air Gunner William John Gowdy was serving in R.A.F. Bomber Command with 35 Squadron.
Bomber Command had a number of Operations on that night.
A total of 648 aircraft took part in a raid to Magdeburg - 421 Lancasters, 224 Halifaxes, 3 Mosquitos were involved and whilst being watched by German Controllers the bomber stream was infiltrated by Night Fighters.
57 aircraft - 35 Halifaxes, 22 Lancasters - were lost mostly due to night fighters.
22 Lancasters and 12 Mosquitos of 5 and 8 Groups carried out a diversionary raid to Berlin resulting on 1 Lancaster lost.
111 aircraft - 89 Stirlings, 12 Lancasters, 1O Mosquitos - carried out raids on 6 flying bomb sites in France without loss.
8 Mosquitos to Oberhausen and 5 to Rheinhausen, 8 RCM sorties, 5 Serrate patrols, 8 Wellingtons minelaying off St Nazaire, 16 OTU sorties. No aircraft lost.
Total effort for the night: 843 sorties with 58 aircraft were lost. The number of aircraft lost was the heaviest in any night of the war so far.
Private David Nelson Mills was serving with 2nd (Airborne) Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry when he was killed in Action and is buried in Normandy.
The two seamen above lost their lives in a tragic accident when the Motor Torpedo Boat they were serving on was cut in two in a collision with another ship.
Harry James Nichols and James Henry Atkinson were both aboard H.M.M.T.B. 707
Lieutenant George Patrick Lefroy Pardoe was based on H.M.S. Attacker with 879 Squadron Fleet Air Arm when on 29th January 1944 he was flying Supermarine Seafire LR 761 and crashed near Glenarm.
Harry Haveron was an 18 years old "Pantry Boy" on board the H.M. Transport Princess Maud. On the day he lost his life the Princess Maud was involved in "Operation Dynamo" and the rescue of the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk. She was in Dunkirk Harbour on 3rd June and was the last ship to leave the harbour at 01.50 on 4th June.
Lieutenant Archibald Bryce Miller, Service Number 152917, was 47 years old and serving with 12th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment when he died on 21st March 1941.
He was the Son of Andrew and Margaret Miller and Husband of Mary Rowena Stuart Miller, of Thornhill, Dumfriesshire.
Leading Seaman James Alex Baxter, Service Number C/JX 251329, was 56 years old and serving on H.M.S. Racer when he died on 9th March 1945.
He was the Husband of Mary Baxter, of Larne.
Ernest Robert Durrell lost at sea and Serjeant Angus Thomas Gardiner, Service Number 7011718, who was 30 years old and serving with 2nd Battalion The London Irish Rifles, Royal Ulster Rifles when he died of wounds on 1st march 1943.
Angus was the Son of Thomas and Ellen Gardiner, of Larne and Husband of Barbara Gardiner.
Pilot Officer George McAuley D.F.C., Service Number 124267, was 19 years old when he was killed on 20th August 1942.
He was serving with 218 Squadron R.A.F.V.R. and aboard Short Stirling Mk1 W7615 which was on a Minelaying Operation to Keil. The aircraft had left R.A.F. Downham Market at 20.25 on 20th August and is believed to have crashed into the sea.
George was the Son of W. H. and Jane McAuley, of Ballygally, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland.
Marine George McCormick, Service Number CH/X 3438, was 21 years old and serving on H.M.S. Arethusa with the Royal Marines when he was Killed in Action.
The ship was escorting Malta Relief Convoy MW13 when it came under air attack by torpedo carrying aircraft.
Having been Hit on port side the ship took on heavy list to Port with fires in forward structure due to oil fuel together with flooding.
156 men were killed with 42 injured. The Ship was disabled with a hole in the structure which was later found to be 53 ft long and 35 feet deep.
George was the Son of William Hugh and Annie Elizabeth McCormick, of Larne, Co. Antrim.
Daniel Higgins was killed in a Luftwaffe Air Raid on Newtownards. The full story can be seen here https://www.ww2ni.com/thenewtownardsairraid.htm
Rifleman Ronald McAllister, 2nd Battalion, Royal Ulster Rifles, Service Number 7015463, was serving with D Company when he was killed by a gunshot wound at Wood Gazelle, Cambes.
Corporal John Howell Wright, Service Number 7261554, was 32 years old when he died on 14th October 1941.
John was serving with Royal Army Medical Corps and was the Husband of Elizabeth Wright, of Larne, Co. Antrim.
Marine James Clarke, PLY/X 3138, Royal Marines, was 19 years old and the Son of Robert and Mary Clarke, of Larne.
He was killed when H.M.S. Repulse was sunk by Japanese and is named on the Plymouth Naval Memorial, Panel 59, Column 2.
Sergeant (Air Gunner)John McKinstry, Service Number 1040701, was 24 years old and serving with 35 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve when he was killed.
John McKinstry had been aboard Halifax W7701 which was one of ten No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Essen on the night of the 8th / 9th June 1942.
W7701 failed to return and the squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “took off from Linton for Essen; nothing was heard of this aircraft after it left base”
John was the Son of James Flack McKinstry and Elizabeth Gault McKinstry, of Larne.
Leading Aircraftman Joseph Hilditch, Service Number 1055219, was 23 years old when he died on 15th March 1943.
Joseph was serving with Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and was the Son of Samuel and Martha Hilditch, of Larne.
He is buried in Stellawood Cemetery, Durban, South Africa.
Assistant Cook Alexander Greer was 20 years old when he died on 8th March 1940.
At 18.23 hours on 8th March 1943 the Fort Lamy was a straggler from convoy SC-121 and was torpedoed and sunk by Uboat U-527 southeast of Cape Farewell.
The master, 39 crew members and six gunners died however three crew members and two gunners were picked up after 12 days by H.M.S. Vervain and landed at St.Johns, Newfoundland.
Alexander was the Son of Alexander and Agnes Greer, of Larne, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland.
Lance Corporal Henry Arthur Redrup, Service Number 5335586, was serving with 6th Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment when he died on 12th September 1940.
Master Mariner John McIntyre Teare died on S.S. Corbet when it struck a mine and sunk at the mouth of the River Mersey
Stoker 2nd Class Thomas John Holford, Service Number LT/KX 124707, was with Royal Naval Patrol Service, H.M. Yacht Taransay when he died on 26th April 1941.
Chief Engineer Officer William Macmillan was 40 years old when he died on 8th August 1941.
William was Naval Auxiliary Personnel (Merchant Navy) with H.M. Cable Ship Straide.
He was the Son of William J. MacMillan and Jessie Agnes Kinlay Tulton MacMillan and Husband of Mary MacMillan, of Larne.
Sergeant (Wireless Op./Air Gunner) William John Spence, Service Number 1123753, was 22 years old when he was Killed in Action.
William was aboard Halifax HR906 which was one of twentyone 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Hamburg on the night of the 29th / 30th July 1943.
It was equipped with Nav. Aid Y (H2S) and was carrying 12 x 500lbs Bombs.
HR906 failed to return and the squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “This aircraft is missing, nothing being heard from it after taking off”
William was the Son of William McCrea Spence and Margaret Reid Spence, of Larne.
Stoker 1st Class William Hugh Shields, Service Number D/KX 96853 was Lost at Sea when serving with the Royal Navy aboard H.M.S. Valiant.
He was the Son of David and Mary Shields, of Larne.
Fourth Engineer Officer William Thompson was 25 years old and serving aboard S.S. Harmonides with the canadian Merchant Navy.
The ship was on a voyage from Calcutta to Lourengo Marques when it was was torpedoed and sunk by the Japanese submarine I-165 on August 25th, 1942, about 250 miles S. of Ceylon.
William was the Son of Mr. and Mrs. Herbert J. Thompson, of Antrim.
Ballysnod Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery, Larne
This aerial photograph shows the site which has a number of interesting structures including the one shown below left which can be seen at Ballysnod Road. (Google)
This looks like an American Quonset Hut design rather than the typical Nissen Hut which is much more common.
The building on the right is a protected Nissen Hut which is part of this Battery and is to the left of the aerial photograph. It is protected by steel reinforced concrete and the angled concrete walls on either side would have been filled with earth similar to the Butts at Shooting Ranges for extra protection.
This photograph shows the 4 Gun Pits with an Air Raid Shelter to the right and the Nissen Hut in the background.
***Please note that this is a Private Working Farm and in NOT Accessible ***
Here is the Air Raid Shelter in the centre of the Position, some of which has collapsed.
This is the structure to the bottom right of the aerial photograph.
It has a very sturdy concrete base on which stand two concrete platforms similar to those which would have held Electricity Generators at Decoy Sites.
Shown here are the bases of a number of metal fixings to which a barbed wire entanglement had been secured.
The Radar Platform which is to the right of the aerial photograph. ***Please note that this is a Private Working Farm and in NOT Accessible ***
Not all the Gun Pits at Ballysnod contained Guns and it was interesting to see the concrete pillar shown here.
As shown in the colour photograph on the right (Imperial War Museum photograph) this held a Kine-Theodolite which photographs the shell bursts from the Anti-Aircraft guns and thereby checks the results of the Predictor crews.
Mulberry Harbour, Larne
This strange shape can be seen off Ship Street, Larne during Low Tide and is more easily identifiable for what it is from above.
This is the Bow Section of a "Mulberry" Harbour and I believe that sections of the "Mulberry" were used in the construction of foundations for the routes in and around Larne Harbour.
Bonamargy Friary, Ballycastle.
Bonamargy Friary at Cushendall Road, Ballycastle dates from 1500 and is the final resting place for a number of Personnel who served in both the First and Second World Wars although I concentrate on the Second World War.
The picture above shows the headstones of 6 Sailors from both World Wars.
William Fiskin was the Radio Officer on S.S. Lochgarry which struck rocks of the Mull of Kintyre, was crippled and drifting in storm conditions.
The ship finally sank off Rathlin Island and sadly 22 men died when the lifeboat they were in was smashed against rocks off Doon Bay.
Captain John Robert Townshend of the Royal Canadian Artillery was a passenger on S.S. Nerissa which left Halifax, Nova Scotia on 21st April 1941.
Nine days later on 30th April 1941 the ship was sunk by U-Boat U-552 with extensive loss of life including Captain Townshend.
These are the Headstones of Captain Townshend, Private Edward Charles Jordan, 9th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment and Aircraftsman James McDonald who was Drowned at Sea.
Lissanoure Castle Prisoner Of War Camp
Lissanoure Castle was used as a Camp by the U.S. Army.
Between 18th January and 22nd April 1944 it was home to 129th Army Postal Unit U.S. Army and from 7th March 1944 until 22nd April 1944 217th Replacement Company (66th Replacement Battalion) U.S. Army were here.
The "WBS Troop Accommodations Northern Ireland District" list has Lisanoure Castle with a capacity of 961 Troops.
When the Allied Soldiers left the Camp became a Prisoner Of War Camp and held the large numbers of U-Boat Crews who had surrendered towards the end of the War.
B-17 Flying Fortress Aircraft Crash Memorial Between Loughguile and Cushendall
East of Ballymoney and between Loughguile and Cushendall is Slieveanorra.
This is where a B-17 Flying Fortress of the 401st Bomb Squadron, 91st Heavy Bomb Group, United States Army Air Force, Number 124451 crashed on 3rd October 1942 with the loss of 8 lives.
Shown here is a Memorial near the Crash Site. (For more information visit http://g4isj.blogspot.co.uk/)
Shown above left is the insignia of 401st Bomb Squadron with that of 91st Bombardment Group "The Ragged Irregulars" on the right. (From Americanairmuseum.com)
U.S. Army Memorial, Curran Road, Larne
Drumalis Retreat, Larne
The Drumalis Complex had approx 40 - 50 tents occupied by Military Personel in the grounds.
There was also a section of the building used by the Military.