River Bann Defence Line
These soldiers of the Royal Berkshire Regiment are shown with their 4.5 inch Howitzer as part of the River Bann Defence Line.
The photograph was taken in May 1941. (From Private Collection PLEASE DO NOT COPY)
The 2 pillboxes shown above can be found overlooking the River Bann on the Portadown to Gilford Road where they were constructed as part of a major defence line in the event of a German invasion via the neutral Republic of Ireland.
The top one is at Moyallen with the lower one being at Drumlyn House. Both are in very good condition.
Rifleman Charles Joseph McClatchey 1st (Airborne) Battalion, Royal Ulster Rifles.
Rifleman McClatchey was from Portadown.
In May 1939 he had walked with his friend Junior Greer all the way to Belfast to join the army. When the Recruiting Sergeant realised they were under age both returned home however Joe was not giving up and borrowed his older brothers Birth Certificate before going to Omagh where he joined at St Lucia Barracks!
Joe is shown in Portadown on the left. The group photograph shows the royal Ulster Rifles on 5th June 1944 ready for action. (PLEASE DO NOT COPY) (McClatchey family)
At 21.02 on D-Day, 6th June 1944 Joe was aboard a Horsa Glider with other members of 18 Platoon, B Company, 1st (Airborne) Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles.
They landed on Landing Zone N at Ranville adjacent to what was to become known as Pegasus Bridge.
The Horsa had slid across a field which was covered in Anti-Glider Poles that tore a large hole in the wing.
This photograph shows Landing Zone N where the Horsa Gliders landed. (PLEASE DO NOT COPY)
Both Joe and his friend Junior reached cover as Ranville Farm became Battalion Headquarters.
They fought in Normandy, where Junior was wounded, until the end of August.
Shown above is the Airborne Memorial in Ranville Cemetery and Joe is shown on the left being presented with his Medals at Belfast City Hall
(PLEASE DO NOT COPY) (Thank-you to Matt McClatchey)
Joe continued to see action in a number of Campaigns including Operation Varsity, being the crossing of the River Rhine and in the Ardennes at the Battle of the Bulge.
He survived the War and passed away in 2004. "Quis Separabit"
John McCoo, Royal Ulster Rifles from Richhill.
Rifleman John McCoo, Service Number 6985059, was serving with 19 Platoon of D Company, 1st (Airborne) Battalion, Royal Ulster Rifles.
On 13th June 1944 he was part of a patrol which was sweeping a wooded area to the rear of Battalion Headquarters when he was killed.
Rifleman McCoo was 21 years old and is buried in Ranville Cemetery (Which can be seen above)
It is worthy of note that he had three Brothers who also served during the war. Samuel McCoo was with the Royal Ulster Rifles, Cecil served with the Royal Air Force and William was in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. (Thanks very much to Gloria Dunn)
Prisoner of War Camp, Portadown
There was a Prisoner Of War camp located in the Brownstown area of Portadown which has since been demolished.
John Edward Morgan from Portadown
Sergeant (Flight Engineer) John Edward Morgan, Service Number 992269 was aboard Consolidated Liberator GR VI, EV954 with 1674 Heavy Conversion Unit.
It was 16th February 1945 and the aircraft crashed into a Hill at Collinvale near Ballyclare.
Those who Died along with John Morgan were
Flight Lieutenant Kenneth D. FAULKNER D.F.C. 78086
Flying Officer Allan F. WHITNEY (Royal Canadian Air Force) J/44099
Flying Officer Ernest R. MATTHEWS 159166
Flying Officer Peter G. SIM Mentioned in Dispatches.149164
Sergeant Albert BLADON - 2206239
Sergeant Henry E. BENWELL - 2221864.
Both of the Pilots, Flying Officer Peter C.E. COX 141720 and Pilot Officer Garrett J. FENWICK (Royal Aistralian Air Force) 436200 survived the Crash along with Sergeant William HOWDEN.
John Edward Morgan was 32 years old and serving with the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.
He was the Son of John Henry and Jane Morgan, of Croes-faen and Husband of Mary Morgan, of Portadown, Co. Armagh.
John is buried at Groes-Faen St. David Churchyard, Glamorganshire. (Thanks very much to Karen Cooper)
This pillbox can be found on the Tandragee Road in Portadown and may be what was known as a Type 28 Pillbox.
It is pleasing to see that it is being maintained and that the local Council appear to have taken an interest incorporating a notice explaining its purpose.
Seagoe Church of Ireland Churchyard, Portadown.
This is the headstone of Sergeant / Air Gunner Henry Howard Maginn who was serving with 15 Squadron, Royal Air Force.
On the night of 10th / 11th September 1942 he was a Crew Member on Short Stirling BF347, LS-J on a bombing mission to Dusseldorf.
The aircraft had taken off from Bourn in Cambridgeshire at 21.05 as part of a force of 479 aircraft.
The raid was a success with 39 Industrial companies in Dusseldorf and 13 in nearby Neuss being damaged to such an extent that production was stopped for some time.
R.A.F. losses were considerable with 33 Aircraft lost with the deaths of 60 Crewmen.
The Stirling in which Sergeant Maginn was flying was attacked and damaged by Night Fighters and when an Emergency Landing was attempted at R.A.F. West Malling in Kent the aircraft crashed killing all on board.
The photograph of Stirling LS-J was taken from another aircraft.
(For more information visit the excellent Aircrew Remembered website at http://www.aircrewremembered.com/bannister-harry.html )
Seagoe Cemetery, Portadown
Aircraftman 2nd Class Samuel John Kerr, Service Number 976712 was serving with the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.
He was 20 years old when he died in Hospital in England on 26th November 1940. His death was registered at Bury St Edmunds.
Samuel Kerr was the Son of Samuel and Alice Kerr from Portadown (Information from RAF Commands)
Corporal Aubrey Burke, Service Number 7046114 died on 16th August 1946.
He had been serving with 2nd Battalion, Royal Ulster Rifles and was the Son of William James and Elizabeth Burke from Portadown and the husband of R.C. Burke of Portadown.
Driver Ernest Stewart Currie, Service Number T/107789 was serving with the Royal Army Service Corps.
He was 29 years old when he died on 18th June 1949.
Driver Currie was the Son of Moses and Margaret Currie from Portadown and the Husband of Enza Currie of Portadown.
Corporal Robert Victor Doak, Service Number 639860, was serving with 51 Squadron, Royal Air Force.
He was the Son of Mr and Mrs Samuel Doak and the husband of Cloda Phyllis Doak of Streatham, London.
Corporal Doak is recorded on the 51 Squadron website as having been Ground Crew however he was aboard Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mark V aircraft Z9425 when it crashed in a forced landing East of Barnstable.
Sergeant Ernest Bramwell Blair, Service Number 1796405 was serving with 578 Squadron, Royal Air Force.
The 15th February 1944 was to be the Squadrons fifth target and the first from Burn Airfield near Selby in Yorkshire.
They had fourteen Halifax Bombers detailed to attack Berlin with the intention "To cause maximum damage at aiming point Berlin"
The briefing was at 1031 with the Station Commander, Group Captain Marwood-Elton in attendance and all aircraft were airborne by 1800 hours.
Sergeant Blair was aboard Halifax LW557 Q which was initially reported as missing however it was later confirmed that this aircraft had been shot down by a night fighter over Germany.
The crash location was identified as Tribolm, Northeast of Rostock, Germany.
Sergeant Blair was killed along with Warrant Officer J. Horgan and Sergeant M Piper with the remainder of the Crew becoming Prisoners of War.
(Information from 378sqn.org.uk with photograph from Back To Normandy)
Leading Aircraftman William James Bleeks, Service Number 1035372 was serving with the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.
He was the Son of Robert and Elizabeth Anna Bleeks and the husband of Mary Jane Bleeks from Portadown.
The Statutory Death Register on the Scotland's People website records that Leading Aircraftman Bleeks died at 10.30 p.m. at the Military Hosital, Kirkwall, the result of an extra dural haemorrhage and cerebral compression, which he suffered as the result of a motor accident at Skeabrae.
He was 24 years old.
Gunner George Pentland, Service Number 956614 was serving with the Royal Artillery attached to Headquarters II Corps.
He was the Son of Robert and Jane Pentland from Portadown and the husband of Rhoda Pentland and was 26 years old when he died.
William John Glassey from Portadown.
William John Glassey was from Tarsan, Portadown.
He was born on 18th March 1892 and during the First World War he was at the Battle of the Somme as Private 11995 in the Royal Irish Fusiliers serving from 2nd September 1914 until February 1919.
During the Second World War William served with the Ulster Home Guard.
He is seen in the group photograph on the left with his Son beside him.
William is seen wearing his First World War medals however it was necessary for him to sell his medals to buy food! (Thanks very much to Bill Mcconnell)
Portadown Railway Pillbox
This Pillbox is in super condition.
The inside including the table on which a gun would have been positioned at a loophole which faces the railway line.
Shamrock Park, Portadown
Ulster Home Guard at Shamrock Park, Portadown in 1941. (From Portadownphotos.co.uk Photo by Daphne Palmer-Mitchell)
Ulster Home Guard at Shamrock Park, Portadown in 1944. (From Portadownphotos.co.uk Photo by Daphne Palmer-Mitchell)
Peoples Park, Portadown
This Building can be found in Peoples Park, Portadown.
I do not currently know its purpose. It may have been an Air Raid Shelter however it looks very similar to an Electricity Generator Building for Searchlights as is the case in Larne. If you have some information regarding this Building then please email me at email@example.com
The photographs above show the two sides of the building.
You can see the Larne Buildings which are very similar towards the bottom of www.ww2ni.webs.com/countyantrimpart4.htm
Another view of the building is shown above with my final photograph giving a view of the position of the building which is partly concealed from above by a large tree and is immediately beside Playing Fields where I suspect Searchlights would have been positioned.
This would also relate to the various structures and features which formed part of the River Bann Defence line.
Jack Eakin’s letter written in 1943 finally reaches Portadown.
Jack Eakin wrote to his mum Doris from his RAF base in Alberta in 1943 and the letter has just turned up now.
It’s a chatty letter from a son to his beloved mother in Portadown detailing the special Christmas present he has bought for her while serving in the RAF in Canada.
Despite his best intentions, Jack Eakin’s letter written in 1943, never made it home and somehow ended up in Florida.
Sadly his mum Doris Eakin never got to read his words but today Jack, now 97, is looking forward to being reunited with the letter back home in Co Armagh.
His son, Brian, explained: “My dad was just 20 when he was serving in the RAF in Canada and he wrote regularly to my granny about the things he was doing and the people back home.
“From the contents of this letter we know that my granny wrote to him a lot too. But somehow this letter was written, censored and entered the RAF postal service but never made it home. My twin brother Harry found it by accident on an auction site, being sold by a man in Florida.
“We’ve no idea how it got to Florida. Harry was looking for old postcards from Portadown and came across this letter. He recognised the address on the envelope, 6 High St, Portadown, which was the jeweller’s shop our grandparents and then my father ran in the town.
“Then he realised not only did he recognise the address, but he recognised the names of the people involved and was astonished to see the letter had in fact been written by our father to our granny in 1943.
“We think it may have been bought in a consignment of army surplus items after the war and somehow made it to auction.”
In the letter Jack says he has bought his mother stockings, a luxury item of the day and they had been posted.
His present for his father, John, remains a mystery and the young Jack predicted it would be late, and said could be the twelfth of July before it landed on the Eakin doorstep - but he promised it would be worth the wait.
Little did he know the letter carrying that message would take 77 years to make it home.
Son Brian said: “We’re delighted. We’ve told dad about the letter and he’s astonished and looking forward to seeing it.
"The man selling it in Florida was only really interested in the sale value of the stamps on the envelope and sold the letter back to us for $50.(Article from Belfast Live.Co.Uk. Photographs from Brian Elkin and the Elkin Family)
Various County Armagh Ulster Home Guard Units
Ulster Home Guard Portadown Section on a Training Exercise. (From Portadownphotos.co.uk Photo by Daphne Palmer-Mitchell)
1st. Armagh Battalion, Ulster Home Guard. Section Leader Competition 1944, Laurelvale (From Portadownphotos.co.uk Photo by Daphne Palmer-Mitchell)
A / B Company Rifle Team 2nd. Armagh Battalion Ulster Home Guard, Winners of Battalion Championship.
Back Row L to R: Vol. E. Corkin, Vol. Victor Smith, Sgt. T. Dobbin, Pl. Jimmy Palmer, Cpl. T. Corkin, Sgt. W. Millsop.
Front Row: C.Q.M.S. H. Hewitt, 2nd. Lieut. R.J. Hewitt, Capt. W. Martin, 2nd. Lieut. W. Archer, C.S.M. J.A. Scott.
(From Portadownphotos.co.uk Photo by Daphne Palmer-Mitchell)
V.E. Day, Portadown
The photograph shows High Street, Portadown on V.E. (Victory in Europe) Day 1945. Note the large Water Tanks and Air Raid Shelters in the background.
My photograph shows the same scene as it looks now. (From the excellent portadownphotos.co.uk website)
The photograph above is from Craigavon Museum Services)
John "Jackie" Lyttle from Portadown.
John Lyttle was from Portadown and known as Jackie.
He joined the Royal Irish Fusiliers in August 1940 when he was 18 years old before transferring in 1943 to 2nd Battalion, Kings Own Scottish Borderers.
Jackie saw action in Burma as part of 7th Indian Division.
He was involved in fighting at Arakan, Imphal and the Irrawaddy Crossing.
Jackie left the Army in June 1946 having attained the rank of Sergeant Major after which he became Regimental Sergeant Major of 5th Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers (Territorial Army) in his home town.
In later years he was Chairman of Portadown Branch of the Royal British Legion.
The Soldier on the right of the pictures is Regimental Quartermaster Brint, 2nd Battalion K.O.S.B. (Thanks very much to Stephen Thornbury for pictures and Information)
Albert Lyttle from Portadown.
Corporal Albert Lyttle, Service Number 7015490, was 23 years old and serving with Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.
He had been awarded the Military Medal.
Albert was Husband of Margaret Lyttle, of Portadown, Co. Armagh and died on 8th April 1944.
He is buried in Cassino War Cemetery, Italy.
(Thanks to Andrew Hetherington for the headstone photo and Jennifer Hillen for his picture)
Robert Fletcher from Portadown
Robert was born in 1921 and lived in Gilford before he joined the Royal Navy in 1939.
He married Lillie Chambers on 20th February 1943 in Vinecash Presbyterian Church, Craigavon having been granted 3 Days Leave from the Navy.
Robert served aboard H.M.S. Collingwood, H.M.S. Victory. H.M.S. Dunluce Castle and H.M.S. Emperor.
Stormy weather on return from Norway
Sunday Service in Alexandria, Egypt.
H.M.S. Emperor shown in the Mediterranean above and passing the Troop Ship M.V. Moolton in the Suez Canal below.
Suez Canal War Memorial above.
Above picture shows Bob on the far left on an Island in the Agean Sea. An aircraft is seen taking off below.
Refuelling in the Bay of Biscay
Robert's Certificate for crossing the Equator on 14th April 1945
Bob is seen on the left of the photograph above.
Army Cooperation aircraft taking off from H.M.S. Emperor before the Invasion of Rangoon
General Slim, Commander in Chief of the East Indies Fleet at Singapore
Lord Louis Mountbatten in Singapore to arrange Surrender Terms for the Japanese.
H.M.S. Emperor is seen above with crashes on thr Flightdeck shown below.
On Trials in Chesepeake Bay, Norfolk, Virginia
The two pictures above show Emperor on her way from Newfoundland to the U.K.
(Thanks very much to Rachelle Browne and Roger Browne for the information and pictures shown here)
Drumcree Church, Portadown
Irene Wright was a Sister with Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service when she was Killed by Enemy Action when at Sea on 14th February 1942.
She had been aboard the Hospital Ship S.S.Kuala when it was bombed and sunk by Japanese Aircraft in the Bangka Strait and was later seen swimming towards Pom Pong Island with others however she never arrived and was reported missing.
Private John Morrison was serving with the Pioneer Corps when he died on 13th February 1944.
Aircraftsman Wilfred Wright was serving with 103 Squadron, Royal Air Force when he died on 4th January 1940. He is shown below along with photographs of his Funeral.
Wilfred Wright, Aircraftman 2nd Class 538668, 103 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Wilfred Wright was the son of James and Esther Wright, 12 Burnbrae Avenue, Portadown, Co. Armagh, N. Ireland.
He died on 4th of January 1940, aged 20, in hospital at RAF Warmwell in Dorchester, Co. Dorset, England following a sudden illness, and is buried at Drumcree Church of Ireland Churchyard in his home town of Portadown.
Wilfred was employed in a local weaving factory prior to the Second World War where his father was a foreman tenter.
He had three years service in the Royal Air Force prior to his death and was posted to 103 Squadron which had been reformed in 1936 at Andover, was equipped with Hawker Hind Aircraft and later re-equipped with Fairy Battles.
He is commemorated on Portadown War Memorial, Thomas Street Methodist Church War Memorial and on the Memorial of 1st Portadown BB Old Boys Association in their Clubrooms. (Thanks very much to Paul Wright)
This Memorial relates to Lieutenant Colonel Hampton Atkinson Dougan of the Royal Army Medical Corps who was the holder of the Military Cross and is buried in India
American G.I. Buried at Drumcree
Private First Class John Weatherall served with Headquarters Battery of 510 Field Artillery Battalion of the United States Army.
He was 56 years old when he died and is buried with other family members at Drumcree Church.
Sadly the Clock which is referred to in this newspaper article was never in the church itself but placed on a main wall in the Parochial Hall.
This hall is used for sports activities and the clock was broken by a football. It was later disposed of. (Thanks to Alan S.)
(Thanks very much to David McDonald)
American Red Cross in Portadown
The American Red Cross operated throughout Northern Ireland and in Portadown they were in The Plaza at Bridge Street.
Private James Uprichard from Portadown.
James was from Portadown and served with the Kings Liverpool Regiment in the Chindits in Burma.
Having been wounded he was sent home for treatment and fortunately survived the war.
He is shown in uniform in the photograph on the right and with others on his return from the War in the photograph above which was taken in Fox Street, Portadown.
(Thanks very much to David Uprichard for the information and photographs)
Samuel Joseph Weir from Craigmore.
Sergeant Samuel Joseph Weir, Service Number 1081810, was 21 years old when he was Killed In Action on 31st January 1944.
Samuel was serving with 172 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and was aboard Wellington XIV on an Anti-Submarine Patrol when it was lost over the Bay of Biscay.
Samuel was the Son of Samuel and Elizabeth Weir, of Craigmore, Co. Armagh.
He is named on the Runnymede Memorial.
Thse photograph here shows his Sister Lily Young laying a Poppy at the War Memorial.
(Thanks very much to Christine Tyrrell)
This is a Exercise involving 5th Division Reconnaissance Battalion at Castledillon on 18th October 1941.
Vehicles included both Bren Gun Carriers and Reconnaissance vehicles (All photographs are from the Imperial War Museum)
The Argory is now a rather impressive National Trust property in northern County Armagh however for a time in 1943 / 1944 this was home to 654th Tank Destroyer Battalion of the United States Army who sailed from Brooklyn, New York on board the Queen Mary and arrived in the Clyde before making the short trip across to Larne and then my train to Moy.
The U.S. 5th Army had previously used the Camp before departing for the invasion of Italy and a detachment of men from 10th Infantry 5th Infantry Division under Lieutenant Huie prepared both The Argory and Derrygally House for the arrival of 654th Battalion on 20th October 1943.
The signs shown here remains in the old Coach House of The Argory which is now a bookshop. This building had been used as a storeroom by the Military and the top picture says "Notice. On completion of training please return your stores to their respective positions Neat and Tidy. It is just as easy to do a thing right as to do it wrong so give Mr Right a Big hand"
There are then positions for number 3, 7, 8 and 9 Platoons as well as Company Headquarters.
It is very pleasing to confirm that this artwork has been preserved.
This was a camp for 654 Tank Destroyer Battalion of the United States Army.
Officers stayed in the House while the men lived in nissen huts in the grounds. The Command Post was established in the Servants Quarters in the courtyard of the House. Some concrete bases of these huts remain to be seen.
A water pumping station, complete with water tank marked "Dungannon Railway Station" (Shown Below) can be seen near the river over which once stood a bridge to allow passage from Derrygally House to The Argory on the other side.
The garages at the House were built by the U.S. Army and inside is a selection of pigeon holes and notice board for various orders.
Vehicles were kept under the visual cover of trees on a nearby hill to prevent them being seen by any enemy aircraft.
A vehicle inspection pit was created close to the road where nissen huts had also been.
Shown above is "Black Panther" cut into a tree neat the pump house by one of the G.I's however a little exploration found some more carving!
Some is difficult to make out after all these years but the most distinguishable is shown here. - CAM GARNER.
The Grounds of Derrygally House was also used by Belgian Troops as seen in the photographs below.
These photographs show Belgian Army at Derrygally. They show a convoy of trucks ready to depart to Summerisland. (From Jacques Alfred)
General Eisenhower in Armagh
The picture shown here has been addressed to The Royal Irish Fusiliers Museum by General Eisenhower who refers to the Royal Irish Fusiliers as Outstanding!
You can see this picture in the Museum on The Mall. For more details click on the "Museums" section of this website.
The Duke of Kent visits Army Units in Armagh
Officers are shown above inspecting 91st Field Regiment of Royal Artillery and below 254th Field Company Royal Engineers.
This Inspection took place on 27th November 1941. (Photographs from Imperial War Museum)
Alexander "Sandy" McWilliams, from Gillis, Armagh.
Served with 3 Troop, A Squadron, North Irish Horse in a Churchill tank.
He served in North Africa and Italy and had sustained a leg wound during the war.
Believed to have parked a tank at Bovington Tank Museum which he went back to see after the war.
Alexander McWilliams passed away around 1986
(Thanks very much to Marty McWilliams)
Piper Edward Wilson from Armagh
Serving with 1st Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers he had been evacuated from Dunkirk then served in North Africa and was wounded is Sicily.
Wesley Edwards from County Armagh
Flying Officer Wesley Boyd Edwards of County Armagh was a member of an Army Cooperation Squadron. (IWM Photograph)
Corporal J. Lester from Armagh
The Crew of a Churchill Tank of the North Irish Horse.
From right to left are Corporal Yuke from Aberdeen, Lance Corporal Shillito from Hull, Trooper Lang from Port Talbot, Corporal J. Lester from Edward Street, Armagh and Sergeant H.B. Phillips of Duke Street, Londonderry.
The Tank is named Donegal and the photograph was taken on 22nd July 1944.
The tag belonging to Cpl. Lester A Coy is believed to be the same person in the photograph! (Thanks to Robin Abbott) (IWM Picture)
General Patton in Armagh
The officer sitting in the back of the Jeep above is Major General Walter Robertson of the 2nd Infantry Division. (Black and white pictures from After The Battle, Home Away From Home and http://www.eucmh.com)
A few days later on 3rd April 1944 Patton inspected Derrygally House and complimented Colonel Martz on the appearance of the camp and battle readiness of the men.
General Patton inspecting Soldiers in The Mall, Armagh. (Thanks very much to Selwyn Johnston)
On 1st April 1944 at 10am soldiers of the U.S. 2nd Infanrty Division along with various other Units were formed up in The Mall in Armagh to be inspected by General Patton.
General Patton speaking to American soldiers on The Mall in Armagh. (Many thanks to Sheriff Johnston)
Large group of American Service Personnel in The Mall, Armagh. Includes Army, Navy and Nurses. Date not known.
(Thanks very much to Neil Henning)
G.I. Bride from Armagh
This photograph was taken at the Wedding of Maureen Donnelly of Railway Street, Armagh to Private Artie Mudge on the 3rd July 1943.
Maureen Donnelly is believed to have been the first GI bridge in Armagh.
Artie survived the war after which they lived in New Jersey. (Thanks very much to Gareth Chambers)
Memorial to Belgian Soldiers at The Mall, Armagh
The Memorial Stone shown here was presented by Veterans of the 5th Infandry Brigade of the Belgian Army who had been based for a time in various locations in the Armagh area. The Stone was laid in 1990.
First World War Trophy Guns being cut up and removed from The Mall, Armagh
Picture above shows how they had looked (From PRONI)
This photograph shows a German First World War gun which had been brought back to the U.K. as a Trophy of War and subsequently put on display in The Mall in Armagh. During the Second World War, as with so many others, it was cut up and smelted down for use in the War Effort during the second World War.
(Thanks very much to Marty McWilliams for the photograph shown above)
U.S. Army 2nd Infantry Division in Northern Ireland
The cloth patch of the 2nd Infantry Division can be seen clearly in the photograph above of Soldiers being inspected by General Patton at The Mall in Armagh.
These photographs show a hand-painted metal sign illustrated with the Insignia on the front and a list of locations where the Troops were based on the rear.
"Garwood" probably refers to Girdwood in Belfast and as can be seen Northern Ireland is well represented! This was painted by Liberto Vilarino.
(International Military Antiques picture)
Staff Sergeant John Simonetti, 2nd Infantry Division, U.S. Army
John Simonetti joined The Ninth Infantry Division, U.S. Army and following his training he boarded the ship USAT, Susan B. Anthony on 7th October 1943.
Soldiers of 2nd Infantry Division are shown below disembarking in Belfast on 18th October 1943. They then went to Armagh.
John was serving with Company G, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, U.S. Army.
John is shown during his training in the photograph above.
From Armagh John went to southern England before Operation Overlord and the invasion of Occupied France.
John arrived in Normandy on D-Day +1 and as part of the 2nd Infantry Division, Company G his mission was to capture the town of St. Lo.
John and his comrades had remarkable success during day 1 to day 8 as they marched inland.
Of the 251 members of the Unit by the morning report from D-Day +9 , 205 soldiers had been unscathed by the fighting.
Approximately 20 miles from Omaha Beach John and his fellow Soldiers were in a village called St. Germain d’Elle which was an important objective due to the close proximity of Hill 172, a major vantage point.
Saint Germain was surrounded large hedgerows within which the Germans had lay hidden.
They opened fire and soon one-third of the American Troops were killed including John.
According to one of his comrades, John was killed by a single bullet through the throat.
It was said that John was last seen firing a bazooka at a German machine gun nest before he was mortally wounded.
The fighting was so intense and the bloodshed so great that the Americans were forced to retreat without retrieving the bodies.
A soldier related that he had seen a German soldier come up to the bodies and take John’s gun.
John’s squad was unable to move forward for a few days and when they finally could they were unable to find his body.
Eyewitnesses all confirmed that he had died but he was listed as Killed in Action (KIA) because his body was not recovered.
In 2009 the remains of an American soldier was found during some excavation work in Saint Germain and his dog tag was still around his neck.
The U.S. Army were informed arranged for DNA testing which confirmed that the body was John Simonetti!
In July 2010 the following Report was reseased by the Army.
The skeleton was remarkably intact. It is rare that after 65 years you would find so much of the skeleton so well preserved but the rich non acidic soil in the area did not take a great a toll on the remains. Also found were bullets, his dog tags, buttons, bits of fabric from his uniform and a fair amount of his boots.
Bryant Burnett, Jr. Based in Co.Armagh Killed in Action in Germany.
Private Douglas G Ferguson,9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, U.S. Army based in Armagh area.
Private Douglas G Ferguson, Service Number 6832952 was serving with 2nd Infantry Division, 9th Infantry Regiment, United States Army and for a time was based in the Armagh Area.
He was from Milwaukee County, Wisconsin and had been awarded the Bronze Star.
Private Ferguson died on 9th August 1945 of what is described as 'DNB - Died Non-battle'
Douglas G Ferguson is buried at Plot D Row 11 Grave 40, Normandy American Cemetery, Colleville-sur-Mer, France.
(Thanks to Pete Chafer. Information from Honorstates)
Drumcairn Mill, Armagh
The impressive Drumcairn Mill can be seen on Loughgall Road, Armagh.
It was used by the following Units of the United States Army.
Between October 1943 and 11th April 1944 by 2nd Quartermaster Company, 2nd Infantry Division who were accompanied by the 2nd Signal Company, 2nd Infantry Division between October 1943 and 11th January 1944.
Wladysław Rogalski, Polish Air Force, Buried at Rock Road, Armagh
Shown above is the grave of Squadron Leader Wladysław Rogalski, Polish Air Force. He is buried at New Presbyterian Cemetery off the Rock Road in Armagh.
The photograph of him shown above is from the group picture below. (Thanks very much to Roger Esdale and Lukas Gredys)
Belgian Soldiers at St Patrick's Roman Catholic Cathedral, Armagh
Belgian Soldiers on parade at the Roman Catholic Cathedral in the City of Armagh on 21st July 1945 and inside the Cathedral.
My photograph shows the Cathedral as it looks today.
(Many thanks to http://www.maisondusouvenir.be. For more information please visit this excellent website.)
These two photographs of Armagh Cathedral were taken by Technician Third Grade Joe Powell, who served as a medic in the 2nd Infantry Division in the European Theater of Operations. Joe Harold Powell, M.D., was born on 15 February 1916 in Pine, Texas. He moved to Shreveport, Louisiana, in 1938, before enlisting in the United States Army on 10 April 1942.
The 2nd Infantry Division was sent to the United Kingdom to prepare for Operation Overlord in October 1943. The division landed on Omaha Beach on 7 June 1944 and continued through France, participating in the Battle of Brest. In October, the division entered Germany and remained there until May 1945. It then entered Czechoslovakia before returning to the United States in July. After the war, Powell earned his M.D. and moved to Mississippi. He remained there until his death on 22 July 1987 in the city of Bay St. Louis. (Thanks very much to The National WW2 Museum, New Orleans)
Service Personnel Buried at St Patricks Roman Catholic Cathedral, Armagh
Fusilier Michael Davies was serving with 2nd Battalion, The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers when he died on 30th April 1941.
Immediately beside his Headstone is that of William James Cook who was a Sergeant Air Gunner with 218 "Gold Coast" Squadron, Royal Air Force.
On the night of 23rd April 1942 Sergeant Cook took off from R.A.F. Downham Market, Norfolk in Short Stirling Mk 1 W7473, HA-F. He was accompanied by the following Crew Members:-
Sergeant / Pilot Shirley Vincent Davidge
Sergeant / Co-Pilot Willem Joseph Gerard Paul Rieter
Sergeant / Flight Engineer Abson Squires
Sergeant / Observer John Hartley
Sergeant Wireless Operator / Air Gunner Jamie Kitchener Wendle Paul
Sergeant Wireless Operator / Air Gunner Archibald John Thornburn
Having taken off at 22.57 the aircraft suffered Engine failure, aborted the Mission and jettisoned its Bomb Load into The Wash before trying to return to base.
The Crash Site was Ingrams Field, 100 yds from Clenchwarton Primary School, Clenchwarton, Norfolk - There were no survivors.
Service Personnel Buried at St Mark's Church of Ireland Cathedral, Armagh
Flying Officer / Flying Instructor John Hamilton Barnes was serving with the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.
Private G.E. Essex was 29 years old and serving with 5th Battalion, Reconnaissance Corps, Royal Armoured Corps.
Serjeant David Love was 52 years old and the holder of the Military Medal. He was serving with the Royal Irish Fusiliers.
Cecil Smith lived on Barrack Hill, Armagh virtually opposite the gates of Gough Barracks with Bill Owens living on the opposite side of the street.
They were Pals and both attended Armstrong School before enlisting in the Army at the same time.
After training Cecil Smith went to The North Irish Horse whilst Bill Owens was sent to The Royal Ulster Rifles, and later the Royal Scots Fusiliers.
Bill had been born in Glasgow so his transfer probably did not cause him much concern.
Cecil Smith lost his life at Cassino on 23rd May 1944.
Bill Owens had fought in France, Holland, and Across the Rhine into Germany and both men had done their best to keep in contact.
Bill Owens passed away in 1947.
He never said much about the war.
if there was ever a mention of Casino Bill always respectfully used to remember Cecil.
Within his possessions was this photograph of Cecil Smith and a North Irish Horse Christmas card, with a Green and White ribbon tied in a bow on it.
(Thanks very much to James Owens for this cracking story and photographs)
Gough Barracks, Armagh
This selection of photographs was taken in Gough Barracks, Armagh on 26th March 1941. Above left is the Cookhouse and dining Hall.
At the time these pictures were taken the Barracks was being used by 2nd Battalion, The Monmouthshire Regiment, 53rd Welsh Division.
On the right is the Quartermaster store. (Imperial War Museum Photographs)
On the left is the Regimental sergeant Major's House with the Officers Mess on the right.
Below left are the A and C Block Barrack Rooms.
Gough Barracks in Armagh was the Depot of the Royal Irish Fusiliers and is now used by the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
The War department markings shown here can be seen on the perimeter wall of the barracks in Victoria Street and I believe these may relate to the location of protective sangars constructed into the walls.
This is a photograph of the Royal Ulster Rifles Depot at Gough Barracks, Armagh in 1937. (Thanks very much to Steven McCrea)
Iron For The War Effort, Armagh
As you walk around the cities and towns of Northern Ireland you may have noticed that there are a number of the older buildings which have had their perimeter fences removed.
The typical sign is a small wall left with the fence having been removed from the top.
The Government had asked for metal items to be gathered together to assist in production of items for the war effort and the civilian population helped by providing a huge amount of items such as pots, pans, beds and even perimeter fencing.
This particular example can be seen in the centre of Armagh.
Lance Corporat Eric Martin from Armagh
Lance Corporat Eric Martin from Armagh is shown at a Military Police Traffic Control Point in Stadtlohn on 1st April 1945. (IWM Picture)
Able Seaman George Sleator from Barrack Hill, Armagh.
Able Seaman George Sleator, Service Number D/JX 420406, was the Son of Clyde and Mabel Sleator, Barrack Hill, Armagh and was Killed in Action on 20th February 1944 while serving aboard HMS Warwick.
The Destroyer was in the Bristol Channel off Trevose Head while engaged on convoy escort duties when it was struck by a torpedo and blown in half with the loss of 66 crew members.
Ken Holmes, who served as a telegraphist was among the survivors. He recalled the moment the ship was struck.
“I was in my mess when an explosion shook the ship violently and a cloud of dust fell from the overhead pipes that ran through the mess. My first thoughts were to get my life belt and head for the upper deck. My life belt was the type that had to be blown up like a car inner tube, was rolled up and hung on a hammock hook near the door. I grabbed the life belt and made for the door.
“On looking up I could see some burning wreckage across the hatch top. I proceeded on to the upper deck where I found oil, some of it burning on the deck, and seemingly spurting up somewhere near the funnel.
“I could see that the stern was no longer there. I was actually standing on the port side of the ship by the whaler, and efforts were being made to lower it. Unfortunately, burning oil had dropped into it and it was obvious that it would not float when it got into the water. I had, by this time donned my life belt and was in the process of blowing it up, and seeing that the whaler was useless, I moved to the starboard side where efforts were being made to lower the motor boat. This was also proving fruitless as it appeared that the lowering gear had jammed.
“The ship heeled over to port and I grabbed the wire hand rail that went round the ship. I was fortunate, as I got hold of it, but some of the others waiting by the rail didn’t and they slid down the oily deck out of my sight. I climbed over the rail and on to the side of the ship which was now almost level, I slid down it and jumped off the bottom of the ship into the water. I was fully dressed in overalls and wearing boots, but my life belt was inflated and I remembered during my training being told that if such an emergency happened to me, that I should hold my life belt down to prevent it striking me under the chin when I hit the water. This I did, and I arrived in the water amid a flurry of arms and legs belonging to the others who had jumped with me.
“The water was icy cold and came as a bit of a shock, but my first thought was to swim away from the ship before she sank and pulled me down with her. There was a heavy swell on the sea and I found that I would go up on one rise, and then down, but I didn’t come up quick enough before the next rise, consequently that one came over my head. So, half the time I was in the water I seemed to be under water as well. The oil that covered the top of the water was a problem as well, it meant that I had to make sure it did not get into my eyes. At first I could hear men shouting, but from the time I jumped into the water I never saw another soul. For all I knew I could have been the only survivor.
“Having swam away from the ship as far as I thought safe, I turned to look behind me. The bows of the Warwick were still above water and I could see a man sitting on the capstan on the forecastle. Who he was I didn’t know (the lad was Jamie Norburn – he could not swim, thought he might be rescued, but went down with the ship). I was treading water or doing a bit of breast stroke whilst looking round to see if any help was in view, when I saw a destroyer heading our way. I began swimming towards it and I could see some of the crew lowering scrambling nets down the side. Then just when I thought I was going to be saved the destroyer sped away. To make matters worse, a few minutes later she started dropping depth charges, although I was a good distance away, as each one exploded it was like being punched in the stomach.
“I swam away to increase the distance from the explosions, and, after some time (I don’t know how long) still not having seen any other person in the water, or the Carley floats, which I found out later had been launched, I sighted on one of my upliftings on the swell what appeared to be three boats heading in my direction. I started to swim towards them. At first I thought that I had done too well as it appeared that I was going to be run down by one of them, but, I adjusted my direction and found myself alongside one of them. I raised myself up in the water and shouted. There seemed to be no one on deck, but as I shouted a man came out of the deck house. How he saw me I don’t know as the water was covered in oil and so was I. He did see me though and threw me a rope. I grabbed it gratefully but was dismayed to find that because of the oil it was sliding out of my hands. I promptly took a turn round my wrists and hung on. My saviour must have been a very strong man because he hauled me up the side of the ship with no help from me and threw me on the deck. He said something to me in a language I did not understand and for a few minutes thought that I was going to end up in a prison camp! He realised that I did not understand, and then in English he told me to go down below. I went to a cabin with a roaring stove blazing in it, and I began stripping off my clothes. I could not do anything with my boots, which were of course wet through, then a man came down and cut them off for me. At that time there was no one else in the cabin, and I stood over the blazing stove and was unable to feel the heat. I was so exhausted that I got into a bunk. I must have passed out, because I don’t remember any more until I was awakened by another survivor still in his wet and cold clothes! This was quite a shock as I was in the nude and was just started to get warm. I looked round and saw that there were a number of the Warwick’s crew aboard, but they were unrecognisable to me as they were all covered in oil. I understood by this time that we were on our way to Padstow, but I lost all track of time and have no idea how long it took us.
On arriving at Padstow a member of the fishing vessel’s crew gave me a pair of trousers and an old blanket to go ashore in. I climbed up the ladder to dry land and the realised how lucky I had been to still be alive. I owed grateful thanks to the man who had hauled me out of the water. It seemed that most of the survivors had been landed by this time and we were directed to get into a lorry which was standing by and we were transported to the RNAS (Royal Naval Air Station) at St Merryn. We were greeted with a basin full of rum and given a cup full. It was only after that I began to feel human again. We were fed, kitted out in Battle dress, and given a bed for the night before being transported to the Royal Navy Base at Plymouth. There we went through the joining routine, issued with new kit and eventually sent on survivors leave.”
George Sleator was 19 years old and is named on the Plymouth Naval Memorial.
The second photograph shows the bow of the Warwick slipping under the water.
(Thanks to George Sleator. Information from Leamington Observer )
This location is where 702 Ordnance Light Maintenance Company were based for a time.
It was identified on a List dated 21st February 1944 as being "Leasea Facy" however at that time it was Lislea Mills.
The building shown above was constructed by the U.S. Military and used as a Reception building for vehicles and persons arriving at the Company.
This is inside a building where the Americans constructed the brick fire / Chimney which can be seen in the photograph on the left.
This particular building was ised for working on the engines on vehicles and the H Beam which can be seen in the top left of the picture was also erected by the American Troops.
In the photograph on the right are two heavy metal plates which are quite thick and may date from the time.
My sincere thanks to Nigel Steele for showing me around.
Kircassock House Gate Lodge
During the Second World War Kircassock House became Headquarters of 8th United States Air Force Composite Command from November 1942 including 496th Fighter Training Group.
It is believed that both Winston Churchill and General Eisenhower stayed at the House when visiting Personnel in Northern Ireland.
Fortunately many of the American Personnel who were on Guard Duty at the Gate Lodge found time to carve their names and home Cities/States into the brickwork.
Above left is "Guy Saville. Baltimore Maryland and Romney West Virginia 18th May 1944" with "March 1944 Laurel Franklin. Kingsley, Iowa" on the right. - I believe Laurel Franklin survived the war and was married with four children. He died in February 2011 at Trinity in Florida.
(Thanks very much to Andrew White for the picture of Guy Saville Draft Card)
Very pleased to have received the above from Steve Schmidt
Here we have "Neal Roelofsen. Harris, Iowa U.S.A. March 30th 1944" on the left and "Harold Kavalier. Dysart, Iowa U.S.A. 4-1-44" on the right. I believe that Neal Roelofsen lived through the war and received an Honorable Discharge however he was 91 years old when he died on 28th March 2008.
"Private Henry Povolny, Chicago, Illinois 1944" is shown on the right.
Geoffrey Petereson is easy to read however some of the other brickwork is considerably less legible as I guess almost 70 years of Northern Ireland weather has taken its toll.
"Cheelsman Baltimore, Maryland 5/18/44" (Left) has the first couple of letters on the wooden frame and these have become erased over the years.
Along with the names there are also "Red Diamond" - which would refer to the United States Army 5th Infantry Division (Mechanised)
and simply the names of various places including Agusta Georgia, Mason City Iowa and New Jersey.
Above seems to say "Pvt K. Potter. Born 1922 Barton Maryland" but is hard to identify.
Another brick where I cannot identify the individual identifies him as a Private First Class with his name ending in Jr. for "Junior" and this man comes from a place called "Moonshiners Ridge, West Virginia"
My favourite is shown below!
Sadly the wording here is again fading with the passage of time however the writing here says "15 Years Now a Buck Ass Private" and appears to have been written by Mr. K. Porter from Barton, Maryland.
As the American Forces left to travel to Southern England before embarking on the invasion of Europe they were replaced at Kircassock House by Belgian soldiers - One of whom left his mark on the same wall "Paquet Belge 6/15/45".
Kircassock House, Magheralin
Virtually unrecognisable now this is the site of what had once been the very grand Kircassock House. Only the clocktower in the courtyard gives a clue as to where the house had stood. (Old picture from "After The Battle" Magazine)
Here is a Plan of the Kircassock House site as it looked during the Second World War (Thanks to Ernie Cromie)
This picture shows Brigadier General Edmund W. Hill,Commanding General of the U.S. Forces in Northern Ireland, presenting the Distinguished Flying Cross to Technical Sergeant Michael Kruge at Kircassock House on 4th August 1943.
Visitors were Bob Hope the Comedian and Dorothy Lamour who was an American Film Actress along with William Bendix an American Film Actor who were visiting Northern Ireland to entertain American Military Personnel.
From 7th December 1942 until 12th March 1944 Kircassock House was used by 401st Provisional Station Gas Defense Attachment U.S. Army and they were joined on 15th May 1943 by 401st Signal Company Aviation but without the Radio Intelligence Platoon. From 1st March 1944 until 25th May 1944 it was Headquarters to 15 Corps U.S. Army and from14th March 1944 Kircassock House was also used by 2d Platoon 506th Quartermaster Car Company of the U.S. Army.
Shown on the left is a large Water Tower which still remains as it was in the Camp during the 1940's.
Staff Sergeant William Armstrong from Cumnor, Virginia, U.S. Army Mail Clerk sorting the mail into pouches at the Distribution Centre, U.S. Army Post Office 639 at Kircassock House on 10th August 1943.
American Soldiers and Sailors with their invited guests enjoy a dance during a party at Kircassock House on 25th April 1943.
(All of the Black and White photographs here are from Fold 3 and are available to EVERYONE)
Private First Class Charles Furman Blanton, Magheralin
The final resting place of Private First Class Charles Furman Blanton, a United States Army Second World War veteran can be found in the Churchyard in the centre of Magheralin.
The shoulder patch worn by P.F.C. Blanton is 2nd Corps, United States Army.
(Thanks very much to Roger Edmondson and Clive Higginson for their assistance with this).
Gosford Castle, Markethill
***DO NOT COPY THESE PHOTOGRAPHS - FROM PRIVATE COLLECTION***
This is the impressive Gosford Castle at Markethill.
These grand surroundings were, for a time, home to the United States 15th Field Artillery Battalion Headquarters and officers quarters.
Royal Artillery and Pioneer Corps soldiers were also based in the grounds on various occasions.
The grounds of the Castle were used as a Prisoner Of War Camp (P.O.W. Camp 10) and shown here is what remains of a windmill (Shown below) which was constructed by German Prisoners of War. - The informative sign can be seen beside the windmill.
The small metal section to which the sails had been attached remains to be seen however the sails are long gone.
John D. McCory of Missouri
John was an enlisted
man in the Missouri National Guard 35th Division mobilized for WW2 in 1942.
He attended Officer Cadet School and later Flight School at Ft. Sill Oklahoma as a Liaison Pilot flying the Piper L-4 Artillery Spotter before being reassigned to the 144th Field Artillery Group with whom he deployed to Northern Ireland with in 1943 and found himself at Markethill!
These black and white photographs are from John McCory.
It is pleasing to report that John survived the war flying very dangerous missions in his spotter plane to include the Battle of the Bulge.
In the last week of the War was given credit for finding the King of the Belgians who the Nazi's had incarcerated near Austria.
As a 22 year old Captain by the time of the War's end he was responsible for his groups aircraft as well as other Artillery Battalions spotter planes in an Army Corps.
He was awarded 2 Bronze Stars, a Distinguished Flying Cross and is listed in the Field Artillery "Hall of Fame" at Ft. Sill Oklahoma!
John left the Regular Army after the war but joined the Missouri National Guard and rose to the rank of Colonel before his retirement in 1975.(Thanks very much to Ann Weber for these photographs and information) - PLEASE DO NOT COPY THESE PHOTOGRAPHS
The Duke of Kent is seen below visiting a Medium Regiment of the Royal Artillery at Gosford Castle on 27th November 1941. (Imperial war Museum Photographs)
He was accompanied by Lieutenant General H.R. Franklyn the G.O.C. of Northern Ireland.
Above left meeting Major General J.S. Steele and on the right he is Inspecting Soldiers from 2nd / 5th Lancashire Fusiliers.
Below are soldiers of 59th Regiment,Reconnaissance Corps learning how to drive Bren Gun Carriers at Gosford Castle.
On walking from the car park towards the castle there are a few concrete bases of nissen huts under the trees as well as a brief section of concrete path.
The Water Tower shown below was used to provide water to the Prisoners of War. (Thanks very much to Philip Calvin whose Grandad helped in the construction of the Tower)
Markethill Prisoner of War Artwork
Axis Prisoner of War Art - From Markethill!
This is a piece of artwork which was produced by a Prisoner of War in Markethill.
Gosford Forest, Markethill was used as a Prisoner of War Camp and I have posted previously regarding the Windmill which had been constructed there by German Prisoners of War.
This is a mirror around which appears to be a Scottish Soldier who is perhaps dancing. It is approx 16 inches / 40 cm tall.
I know of toys having been made by P.O.W's and wonder if anyone has seen anything similar?
Any information would be very much appreciated.
There was a small Airstrip at Mullaghbrack immediately beside Gosford Castle.
This was constructed by American Troops and was operational in 1942/43. - If you have any more information regarding this then please email me at the address below.
All I could find was this small section of concrete.
The small Airstrip can be seen in the centre of the two pictures above with the concrete bases of the Nissen Huts clearly visible in the photograph below.
John D. McCory of Missouri at Mullaghbrack Airstrip
John D. McCory of Missouri was an enlisted man in the Missouri National Guard 35th Division and was mobilized for WW2 in 1942.
He attended OCS and later flight school at Fort Sill, Oklahoma as a Laison Pilot flying the Piper L-4 Artillery Spotter.
Reassigned to the 144th Field Artillery Group John was deployed to Northern Ireland with in 1943. The photographs shown here were taken at that time.
John survived the war while flying very dangerous missions in the spotter plane to include the Battle of the Bulge and in the last week of the War was given credit for finding the King of the Belgians who the Nazi's had incarcerated near Austria!
As a 22 year old Captain by the time of the War's end he was responsible for his groups aircraft as well as other Artillery Battalions spotter planes in an Army Corps.
John was awarded 2 Bronze Stars, a Distinguished Flying Cross and is listed in the Field Artillery "Hall of Fame" at Ft. Sill Oklahoma!
He left the Regular Army after the war but joined the Missouri National Guard and rose to the rank of Colonel before his retirement in 1975.
(Thanks very much to Ann Weber and Jim Whitley PLEASE DO NOT COPY THESE PHOTOGRAPHS)
Army Motorcycle Trials at Markethill
59th Reconnaissance Regiment Mororcycle Trials at Markethill on 14th August 1942 (IWM Pictures)