The Second World War in Northern Ireland

The Second World War in Northern Ireland

County Armagh Part 2

Tynan Abbey

Above are photographs of an American Quonset Hut which remains in what was known to the local Community as "The Gun Yard".  The difference in construction is obvious from the British Nissen Hut which stands nearby and is shown below.

On the Aerial Photograph above (Bing Maps) you can see some of the buildings along with a number of concrete bases of the Nissen Huts which were there in WW2.

American soldiers of 3rd Battalion, 133rd Infantry, 34th Infantry Division arrived at Tynan Abbey in 1942.

From 18th October 1943 until 11th April 1944 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry of 2nd Infantry Division were billeted there.

The Water Tank shown here was used in the Camp and water was pumped to it from the nearby Lake.

It is always pleasing to see some evidence of the soldiers who lived in such places and in one of the buildings remains a "No Smoking" sign as shown above while below is a Belgian Menu Board for the hungry troops which has been preserved and is in super condition.

This Menu Board was produced by men of 5th Infantry Brigade, known as "Merckem", 3rd Battalion of the Belgian Army who began arriving at Tynan Abbey from 4th June 1945 under the Command of Colonel Couvreur.

Shown above is all that remains of where Sir Norman Strong who lived in Tynan Abbey in the grounds of which the Americans were camped. The Abbey is seen in the old Black and white photograph (Thanks very much to Lord Belmont)

( Sir Norman Stronge, who was 86 years old and his son, Sir James,48 years old, were murdered while watching television in the library of Tynan Abbey on 21 January 1981, by members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army, armed with machine guns, who used grenades to break down the locked heavy doors to force entry.

The impressive Stronge family home was then burnt to the ground as a result of two bombs which the terrorists had left as they escaped).

The Headstones of the two Murdered men are shown below along with a Memorial which is in the local Church.

Soldiers of the 60mm Mortar Section 133rd Infantry, 34th Infantry Division, United States Army training near Tynan Abbey. (Picture from After The Battle Magazine)

American Troops training with 37mm Anti-Tank Guns at a Camp. There is an Assault Course in the background however the precise location is not known. (Thanks very much to Clive Higginson)

United States Army M3 Stuart Tank photographed in the Tynan / Caledon Area. (Picture from

Chapel Hill Camp, Tynan

Shown here are the buildings which remain from the Camp which was built at Chapel Hill Road, Tynan.

The building in the picture below left was the "Enlisted Men Kitchen" as was painted on the entrance door (Below Right) and which is still readable!

You can visualise the "Chow Line"

St Vindic's Church, Tynan

This Memorial is on display inside the Church.

Flight Lt. Wilfred Ronald Maitland DFC was a member of the Royal Air Force serving with 156 Squadron.

He was a Crew Member on board Vickers Wellington Bomber Serial X3706 with Code GT-C.

The Aircraft took off from R.A.F. Alconbury at 00.27 on 30th May 1942 on a Mission to Gennevilliers, France and subsequently crashed at Dugny in northern Paris with the deaths of six Crew members.


This is 4th Battalion, The Welch Regiment on exercise in the Keady area on 22nd July 1941.

They had been at Banbridge from 22nd December 1939 but then moved to an old derelict Linen Mill in Keady.

(Imperial War Museum Photograph)

Field Marshall Sir John Greer Dill, Market Street, Lurgan

This Blue Plaque can bee seen in Market Street, Lurgan.

It is above the front window of a shop and is only a short distance from the junction with Union Street.

Dill was born here in 1881 and served in the British Army during both the First and Second World Wars.

During WW1 he received an amazing 8 "Mentioned in Despatches" and at the start of WW2 he was Commander of I Corps in France before being promoted to General one month later.

He died in Washington, USA in 1944 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. The two photographs below show him on Horseback and his D.S.M. Citation (Thanks very much to David McMurray and his Wife for these photographs)

I believe that Dill Avenue in Lurgan was named after him. (John Dill as shown in  IWM Photograph)

Airman Robert Lawther from Lurgan Killed in Arizona, U.S.A.

Robert Lawther was a Leading Aircraftman in the Royal Air Force and was in Arizona, U.S.A. on Flight Training along with a number of other R.A.F. Personel. He had arrived at Falcon Field, Meza on 10th August 1942 and was in Class 11 with the intention of graduating as a Pilot on 19th February 1943.


In the afternoon of Monday 18th January 1943 the training programme consisted of three North American AT-6 Texan advanced trainer aircraft, known to the British as Harvards. Each of these would be piloted by a Royal Air Force student.

The exercise was to take off from Falcon Field in Mesa, Arizona, fly in close order in an "echelon right" formation to a height above 14,000 feet where they were to practice close order formations.


Accidents were not uncommon and from 2000 pilots to train at Falcon Field during the war a total of 23 RAF students along with 4 instructors lost their lives.


Robert Lawther was piloting number 2 aircraft in this exercise with number 3 aircraft being piloted by Sergeant Norman Ballance. Unfortunately the Pilot of number 1 aircraft has not been identified.

All were under the instruction of 36 years old Robert C. Hammond who was a government contracted civilian Flying Instructor. On this occasion he chose to fly in the rear seat with Robert Lawther.


The formation practice was going well then Sergeant Ballance's aircraft fell behind so Hammond ordered Number 1 aircraft to slow down with Robert Lawther also slowing to ensure he kept his distance from number 1.

While this was happening Sergeant Ballance increased his speed so he could close with the formation however he overshot Lawther as they were entering cloud and then he banked to the right and began to dive with the intention of avoiding a collision however this was not to be the case.


Flying through the cloud Ballance felt a heavy impact and his controls failed to respond.

He pushed back the canopy and bailed out, landing with minor injuries.

Number 2 aircraft, piloted by Robert Lawther, disintegrated and crashed into the mountains below killing both Lawther and Hammond.

A Funeral Service for Robert Lawther took place at Saint Mark's Church in Mesa and he was buried at the Mesa City Cemetery.

Bob Hammond's remains were sent to his parents in Pasadena for burial.

Sergeant Ballance was found blameless by an accident board of inquiry, completed his training, and became a pilot.

He survived the war, retiring from the RAF after many years as a Squadron Leader.

Each year on 11th November the Valley Chapter of the Daughters of the British Empire hold a Memorial Ceremony at the Mesa Cemetery for those who were killed. A few surviving RAF veterans who trained at Falcon Field travel to the ceremony.

Robert Lawther was the son of Mr. and Mrs. John Lawther from Lurgan, County Armagh.

He was the husband of Muriel Jean Lawther of Lurgan. (My sincere thanks to Jim Carlisle for information, photographs and all his help) PLEASE DO NOT COPY

Wesley Gibson from Lurgan

Able Seaman Wesley Gibson was serving aboard H.M.Submarine Parthian.
The Submarine had left Malta on 22nd July 1943 to patrol the Adriatic west of Greece.
A fresh order was sent on 28th July 1943 however she was repored being overdue at Beirut on 11th August 1943.
It is believed she struck a mine.
 (Photos from Lurgan Mail and wikipedia)

American Mess Hall in Market Street, Lurgan

This U.S. Military Mess Hall has been described as being "Above The Pillars" in Lurgan which I believe means it was on the Dollingstown side of the town.

"The Pillars" is a very grand looking building in Market Street, Lurgan as shown here.

(The Black and White picture is a U.S. Army Signal Corps photograph. - Thanks to the Old Lurgan Facebook Page. 

My thanks go to Mr A. McCann for The Pillars photograph)

The American Red Cross in Lurgan

The American Red Cross had facilities throughout Northern Ireland and in Lurgan they used the Canteen of the Malcolm Weaving Factory at Queen Street, Lurgan.

Thomas Johnston, Japanese P.O.W. Camp Survivor and WW2 Veteran from Lurgan

Thomas had been orphaned as an infant and was adopted by the Johnston family from Bleary who he lived with until they died when he was seven years old. He then was looked after by the Pollock family.


Tommy had been a Farmworker for a time before walking from Lurgan to Gough Barracks in Armagh on 10th January 1939 and, having lied about his age, joined the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers.

He was soon in France and involved in the rearguard action of withdrawing British Expeditionary Force Troops on their way to Dunkirk being wounded during one of the engagements with the enemy.


On his return to the U.K. he had a brief period of Leave before finding himself India with 1st Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers prior to hem being posted to Burma and the jungle war against the Japanese.

On one occasion his friend, Vincie Green, was found to be missing and some members of the Platoon stated that they had seen Vincie being shot and falling dead however Tommy was not convinced and returned to the location where he found Vincie lying wounded but alive!

Tommy carried him for about half a mile back to the British lines where he could receive treatment for his wounds.

He was later captured by the Japanese and experienced the brutal hardship of his captors with long hours of work and only scraps of food. He worked on road construction and received only rice and water for the nine months he was a prisoner.

When he was finally freed by U.S. Marines who liberated the Camp Tommy weighed just 6 Stones and never ate rice again! 

After a short Leave Tommy returned to his regiment but received leg wounds and found himself back in Hospital for five months following which he was posted to the Lancashire Fusiliers Mule Corps.

At the end of the Second World War Tommy worked briefly as a Binman before re-enlisting in the Army and joining 1st Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles in the Korean War where he saw action in both the Battle at Koyang, which is better known as "Happy Valley" and at Imjin River.

On finishing his full time Army Service he joined the Territorial Army on 18th July 1956 and served with the North Irish Horse for 10 years before finally finishing his service on 17th January 1966

Shown below is the Certificate Tommy received along with his Dunkirk Medal and he is shown on the right in happier times with a Piper.

(Permission given by Son Harold and Grand Daughter Tracey, Thanks very much to Roger Edmondson and Lurgan Mail)

Tommy is identified with an "X" in the photograph above and his friend, Vincie, who he rescued in Burma is the man on the left in the colour photograph above.

Lurgan Cemetery

Squadron Leader George Acheson Bowen Johnston was serving with 520 Squadron, Royal Air Force when he was killed. He is named on the Gibraltar Memorial.

Cecil Wilson was serving with 2nd Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles when he was Killed. He is buried at Hermanville War cemetery in Normandy.

Pilot Officer William Frederick Dixon Charlton was serving with 408 Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force. 

On the night of 1st / 2nd June 1942 William Charlton was flying Hampden I from R.A.F. Balderton as part of a 1000 Bomber Raid on Essen in Germany when it was attacked and shot down over Ijsselmeer by Lt. Karl-Heinz Vollkopf.

Sergeant Eric Jenkinson was serving with 104 Squadron Royal Air Force in Malta when he was Killed in Action. He has no known grave and is named on the Royal Air Force Memorial in Valetta, Malta as shown above. Click on the Foreign Fields Section of this website for more.

Sergeant William Quaile was serving with 104 Squadron, Royal Air Force. He was involved in Air Operations in Naples when he was killed. He is buried in Salerno Military Cemetery, Italy.

Fusilier Robert Harrison Turkington was serving with 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers when he was killed in Action.

He is buried in Medjez-El-Bab War Cemetery west of Tunis.

Private William Arthur Brown was serving with the royal Army Service Corps and William Thomas Carson was serving with Number 1 Inland Water Transport Company of the Royal Engineers when they both died in 1941.

Private William Fryar was with the Royal Army Ordnance Corps whilst Rifleman Francis Cecil Hamilton was serving with 7th Battalion the Royal Ulster Rifles.

Private Walter Johnston was serving with the York and Lancaster Regiment when he died on 7th November 1941. Leading Aircraftman James Andrew Johnston was serving with 158 Squadron, Royal Air Force when he died on 17th September 1942.

Dougher Cemetery, Victoria Street, Lurgan

Warrant Officer Second Class James Patrick Haughey was serving with 407 Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force as a Wireless Operator / Air Gunner.

He was on board Vickers Wellington Mk 12,  MP 503 Code Letters CI-O when it crashed.

Guardsman Arthur Lavery was serving with 1st Battalion, Irish Guards when he died.


Shown here is a picture of The 56th Signal Battalion of the United States Army making their way along Lough Road, Lurgan near the Railway Station and then the same location as it looks today. (B&W Picture from "After The Battle" Mag)

This photograph shows a group of American Soldiers who were stationed in the Moira area.

The photograph was given to Liam McCluskey's Mother by the Soldiers who became regular visitors to his Grandparents William and Elizabeth Harbinson's cottage between Dollingstown and Magheralin.

Liam believes they loved the home baked soda, wheaten and potato bread straight of the griddle on the open fire. 

Before leaving for the forthcoming Operation Overlord and the invasion of Occupied Europe the soldiers gave his mother this photo to remind the family of their time together.

(Thank-you very much to the "Old Lurgan Photos" Facebook page for permission to share this picture.)

Leonard McCreanor, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, from Lurgan

Leonard was from Lurgan and after attending school he joined the Army when he was 17 years old.

Serving with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers he rose to the rank of Colour Sergeant and saw action in North Africa with the "Desert Rats" as well as Sicily and Italy where he fought in the Battle of Cassino.

Leonard was among a number of Soldiers who met Pope Pius XII in the sistine Chapel and before the end of the meeting the Pope was asked if he would like to hear some Irish music to which he agreed. The Band of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers played the "Sash" and the "Wearing of the green"

He was stationed in Rome to try and capture S.S. War Criminals who were believed to be attempting to escape through the Vatican.

After a stint in Austria he was finally able to return home in December 1945.

Leonard is shown above and at the Guards Depot above right. Below left he is shown at the graves of Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers Soldiers and then on a much happier day being his wedding. (Thanks very much to Roger Edmondson and Lurgan Mail)

Woodville House, Lurgan

Woodville House, Lurgan was known to the 63th Signals Battalion 5th U.S. Army Corps as "Greers Camp" - They are shown here. (Thanks to the Old Lurgan Photos Facebook Page)

Along with them was a Detachment of 205 Company, Military Police.

The 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th companies as well as the Staff Company of the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Rumbeke Infantry Brigade of the Belgian Army were also based at Woodville while their Heavy Weapons Company was at nearby Silverwood Camp.

The Camp is off Lough Road along which the soldiers are seen marching in the photograph above while here you can see Belgian Soldiers in Lurgan.

For more see

(Many thanks to Ronny Soetens for his assistance.)

Belgian Soldiers in Lurgan

6th Belgian Infantry Brigade, 3rd Battalion of Fusiliers, Belgian Army on parade in Market Street, Lurgan with my photograph showing the same location as it looks today.

This photograph of Belgian Soldiers is in the same immediate area as the picture above.

Here the men are standing at attention at the entrance to the War Memorial in Market Street whilst the picture to the right shows a Belgian Soldier at Camp.

My comparrison photograph shows the same scene as it looks today. (Many thanks to Mr Hugo Cox for the photographs and information)

Lurgan Park

Here are two German First World War Field Guns which were on display as a Memorial in Lurgan Park following the end of WW1.

Such guns were seen in various towns around Northern Ireland however very few remain as most, like those in Lurgan, were cut up and smelted down for the War Effort during WW2.

Staying with Lurgan Park the photographs below show "Wilbert and Sarah Jane" taken on 5th May 1942, and the same location as it now looks.

(Thanks to the Old Lurgan Photos Facebook site)

These are the men of Ulster Light Anti-Aircraft Battery, Royal Artillert who were formed at Kings Park Camp, Lurgan in 1939. (Thanks very much to Clive Higginson)

Senior Non-Commissioned Officers of Ulster Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery 3rd Searchlight Regiment Royal Artillery formed Kings Park, Lurgan 1939.

(Many Thanks to Clive Higginson)

Grace Hall, Dollingstown

This grand building is Grace Hall which is located at Cottage Road, Dollingstown.

During the Second World War this building was used as Billets by 183 Company of the Royal Military Police as well as soldiers from the Royal Army Service Corps.

Corporal Allen David Diffin from Tandragee

Corporal Allen David Diffin, Service Number 3527018 was serving with 1st Battalion, Manchester Regiment.

Having been taken Prisoner of War he died on 29th September 1943 when he was 26 years old.

He was buried at Thanbyuzayat War Cemetery near the Death Railway Museum south of Mawlamyine in what used to be Burma.


The village of Tandragee lies south of Portadown and to the west of the River Bann.

During the Second World War there were a number of lines of fortifications which were built throughout Northern Ireland to cope with any invasion. These were of considerable importance as it was suspected that Hitler could use 'Neutral' Republic of Ireland as a springboard into the United Kingdom through what would be a back door rather than directly from the occupied nations. (B&W Picture from "After The Battle" Magazine)

The picture above shows American Soldiers of the 6th Cavalry Regiment attending a Remembrance Day service at the war memorial in Tandragee in 1943. Other than the position of the War memorial having been moved slightly, if you visit the town you will see that little has changed.

Informative Notice Boards telling the story of the involvement of local of people from the Tandragee Area can now be seen beside the War Memorial as shown here.

John Rainey was serving with the Pioneer Corps when he died on 20th January 1944. He is buried in St Mark's Church of Ireland Church.

This montage shows a selection of photographs of the United States Army in Tandragee. (Thanks very much to Bracken Anderson for this)

You can see some individual photographs below which are included in the montage. (Thanks to Roy Vogan)

Descriptions of each photograph can be seen in the coloured poster above. (Thanks to Roy Vogan) PLEASE DO NOT COPY MY PHOTOGRAPHS

 Verni W. Hatch. U.S. Army based at Tandragee Castle

Verni W Hatch was born Sept 29 1920 in Colerado.

During the second World War he joined the U.S. Army and served as a Technician 4th Grade with 6th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron which was part of the Third Army under General Patton.

They left the U.S. Bound for Belfast aboard the Queen Elizabeth Liner in October 1943.

When in Northern Ireland Verni was based for a time at Tandragee Castle when he met and later married a local girl.


Verni served in France, Luxembourg, Belgium and Germany from 2nd December 1944 until 9th May 1945.

He died in March 1979 and was laid to rest in Ft Logan Military National Cemetery in Denver Colorado. 


(Thanks very much to Shirley and Bob Copeland)

My photographs here show Tandragee castle which looks the same now as it did when the American Troops were there.

There is little evidence remaining of the military presence in the grounds. 

Gilford Road, Portadown

The two pictures above show a pillbox on the Portadown to Gilford Road. It sits high in a field with a commanding view of the immediate area and is easily accessable however beware of the steep step down from the field to gain entry.

In great condition and certainly worth a visit. On leaving Portadown look for Pattersons Garage then the pillbox is at the top of the field immediately to your left.

Bann Bridge, Portadown

This small plate can be seen on the Bann Bridge in Portadown. Unfortunately the Air raid Shelter cannot be accessed.


During the week of 8th - 15th April in 1944 194th Quartermaster Gas Supply Company of 15 (XV) Corps was based at what is described by the United States Army as Charlemont Factory. - This Factory related to the Pig Industry however it has now been demolished.