Bangor Main Street, Castle and Town Hall
The pictures above shows Main Street, Bangor with 2 Airraid Shelters that have been constructed in the centre of the roadway. Then we have some drill taking place on the lawn of the Town Hall (Castle)and finally the site of a hut which was constructed beside the main entrance of the Town hall.
Lieutenant Simon D. St.L Fleming was part of the Clanmorris family who resided in the Castle and was born in Bangor Castle and joined the Royal Artillery in 1939. After serving with the Eighth Army in North Africa he was wounded in 1942 and a year later was seconded to the Long Range Desert Group.He was Killed in Action on 16th June 1944 and is buried in the British Divisional Cemetery at Fiora in Italy.
(Thanks very much to North Down Museum for their assistance with the pictures.)
Bangor Railway Station
This photograph shows carrages at the Platform of bangor Railway ststion looking towards Railwayview Street.
The photograph was taken during the Second World War by American Soldier Sgt. John S. Blankenhorn, 166 Signal Photographic Co., U. S. Army
(Thanks very much to Virginia Blankenhorn)
Frederick Richard Lucas from Bangor.
Frederick Richard Lucas and was from Bangor. He joined the Regular Army when his TA Unit was called up for service on 29/05/1939. He arrived in Egypt in November 1939.
(Thanks very much to Heather Mallon for this information and photographs)
Ulster Home Guard at Bangor Town Hall
(Thanks very much to Glen Cairns for this fantastic photograph)
Nina's full name was Antonetta Maria ToscaNINI (Nina) Petronella Vos Luxton Hay.
Nina was born on 13th May 1927 and lived in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
Her Father Ari Vos was Jewish and she was only 13 years old when Nina and her Father were taken from the streets by the Nazis.
They both endured torture, starvation, torment, drudgery and unimaginable horrors every day as they waited to hear their name to be called by their captors.
By the time American Soldiers liberated Buchenwald in April 1945 Nina, who was tattooed # M47 on her left wrist, had been held captive for almost Four Years.
It was only following liberation that Nina and Ari realised they had been in the same camp and were finally reunited.
Having gained some strength the pait were now free so they WALKED back to The Netherlands through Germany. Finding accommodations along the way from anybody who would take them in for the night.
On reaching Rotterdam they were reunited with Nina's Mother and Sister (Wife and Daughter) whom had been kept hidden in a coal bunker by a Doctor and his family during the raids.
Nina and her father vowed never to speak of this again. “It was over. They made it” and life went on.
Nina met Able Seaman William Walter Luxton who was from Bangor and serving with the Royal Navy.
After the war they lived in Crawfordsburn then Bangor.
She always hid her tattoo under a band aid or watch.
She never burdened anybody with her history and was the most pleasant woman you could ever meet.
Loved by all who knew her Nina passed away on 2nd October 2017.
Pilot Officer Thomas Andrew McCann Killed in Action. Buried El Alamein
Thomas Andrew McCann, born in Lisburn the Son of Thomas and Florence McCann.
Having been educated in Bangor, County Down, he worked with Belfast Harbour Commissioners before joined the RAFVR around January 1939 as an Airman u/t Pilot.
His Service Number was 116980 and after completing his training he arrived at 6 Operational Training Unit, Sutton Bridge on August 21st 1940.
On converting to Hurricanes he was posted to 601 Squadron at Exeter on September 11th.
Having seen action in the Battle of Britain he was posted to 134 Squadron which went to Russia in August 1941, leaving there in November.
Commissioned in February 1942, Thomas was posted with 134 Squadron, which were operating Hurricanes, to North Africa.
He had been attached to 213 Squadron and, on July 27th 1942, was scrambled from Landing Ground 154, south-west of Alexandria.
The squadron was attacked by Me109s as they took off and Pilot Officer McCann as well as two other pilots were killed. (Thanks very much to John Dillinger)
Air Raid Shelter, Adair's Lane, Bangor
The Air Raid Shelter shown here is in Adair's Lane, Bangor.
It is the same design as the one shown below at Ballyvester, Donaghadee and is well maintained by the Owner.
There is another Shelter of this type at Crawfordsburn.
Air Raid Shelter, Elmwood Drive, Bangor
This is the inside of an Air Raid Shelter in Elmwood Drive, Bangor.
The design is slightly different to the Shelter shown above in Adair's Lane in that this shelter has a corrugated iron roof over which concrete is poured.
The Adair's Lane Shelter had a wooden mould constructed into which the reinforced concrete was poured.
This particular Shelter would have had bunk type beds attached to the walls which would have been on hinges and would have been secured by chains hanging from the roof.
The exterior of the Shelter was faced with red brick as shown above.
Air Raid Shelter, Bryansburn Road, Bangor
Similar in design to the Shelter shown below however I believe this one has two rooms inside.
Air Raid Shelter Maxwell Park, Bangor
This Air Raid Shelter is in great condition.
The photograph below left shows the steps down as seen from inside and on the right is an inside view.
Rifleman Tommy McGimpsey from Bangor.
Royal Ulster Rifles in Normandy. Shown L to R - Rifleman R. Russell from Belfast, Rifleman A. McKillan from Belfast and Rifleman T. McGimpsey from Bangor.
Tommy McGimpsey was in Normandy and had landed to liberate Pegasus bridge.
This photograph was taken on 14th August 1944.(IWM Picture)
Dufferin Hall, Bangor
Dufferin Hall was used during the War as a Billet for Soldiers.
The 6th Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers where here prior to the Invasion of North Africa and I believe that a Welsh Regiment may also have been here for a time.
The People of Bangor contribution to the Northern Ireland Spitfire Fund
(Thanks to the North Down Museum)
Air Raid Shelter, Conlig
The Air Raid Shelter shown here was constructed for the occupants of a house on Main Street, Conlig.
It can be seen from Henderson Avenue and as can be seen from the Adair's Lane example is typical of what was constructed. - For added protection the building could have been covered with earth.
This Air Raid Shelter is incredibly strong. - Each wall has inner and outer red bricks between which are reinforced concrete and the Roof was laid where it was able to harden into position making this Very strong!
Bangor Intermediate School
This photograph shows 25th Brigade General Hospital Sergeants Mess at what was called Bangor Intermediate School (Later to become Bangor Academy)
126 Military Convalescent Depot, Bangor
These four photographs were taken on 4th August 1943 (Imperial War Museum puctures)
Bangor Military Hospital can be seen in the centre of this photograph.
The Railway Station is on the left with the High School centre right.
Park Avenue, Bangor
Park Avenue, Bangor. Children playing with Air Raid Shelters in the background. My picture shows the same scene today. (Many thanks to Scott Harkins for the original picture)
U-19 Submarine Deck Gun in Ward Park
This First World War gun is a rare item!
Taken as a Trophy from German U-Boat U-19 it was given by the Admiralty to Bangor in recognition of the actions of Commander The Honorable Edward Barry Stewart Bingham who was serving aboard H.M.S. Nestor during the Battle of Jutland.
Bingham was awarded the Victoria Cross.
During the Second World War many of the captured guns which were on display around Northern Ireland were cut up and smelted down for use in the War Effort so it is very pleasing that this particular example has survived unlike the one which is shown below which had been on display at Ballyholme!
(Many thanks to Nigel Henderson at the Great War Ulster Newspaper Archive)
Interesting reference in this Access Pass to the Gun Park at Clifton Road. (From Bangor Heritage Museum)
From 1942 he was joined by Commander Keane from United States Navy.
Eisenhower Pier, Bangor
General Eisenhower photographed on board U.S.S. Quincy in Belfast Lough.
As part of the build-up of Allied forces for the Invasion of Occupied Europe the town of Bangor played its part.
General Eisenhower made his temporary Headquarters at the Hotel facing what is now known as "Eisenhower Pier" in Bangor.
Shown above left is General Eisenhower taken on 19th May 1944 on board USS Tuscaloosa in Belfast Lough. He is seen addressing the ships Officers and Men whilst on the right he is on board USS Quincy. Both ships were in Belfast Lough off Bangor. (Quincy picture from "After The Battle")
Sitting in Belfast Lough were the United States Battleships USS Arkansas, USS Nevada, USS Texas with the Cruisers USS Quincy and USS Tuscaloosa. They were accompanied by a huge number of other ships of all types. (National Archives pictures)
Shown below are the Nevada and Texas on 14th May 1944.
(From http://www.history.navy.mil which is available to everyone)
To the left is a painting called "Task Force 129" by local Artist David Pentland.
It shows USS Nevada with USS Quincy along with HMS Glasgow being assembled in Belfast Lough on 14th May 1944 in preparation for D-Day.
Ghose Photograph of U.S.S. Arkansas and U.S.S. Texas in Bangor Bay. (Thanks to Adam Surrey)
Belfast Lough in 1944 with U.S.S. Arkansas on the left and U.S.S. Texas to the right.
U.S.S. Arkansas. (From World War Photos)
USS Texas is shown with Vought OS2U Kingfisher aircraft on the catapult. The aircraft and catapult were off loaded in Belfast prior to Operation Overlord and the invasion of Normandy.
Shown here are U.S.S. Satterlee along with two other Destroyers photographed in Belfast Lough on 14th May 1944 with County Antrim in the background.
(Photographs from National Archives which is available to EVERYONE)
This photograph shows lots of Warships in Bangor Bay.
Treatment For An Injured Pilot in Bangor Bay
Clark Gable in Victoria Road, Bangor
On 19th May 1944 Captain Clark Gable and his friend Capt. Lee Mahin arrived in Bangor under the guise of being on two weeks leave after which they would returning to their USAAF base in England.
However all was not as it seemed as Clark Gable had been tasked by the Pentagon to film and record the arrival and departure of Allied Task Force 129 in Bangor Bay and then the D-Day landings which would soon follow.
He was then to return to the United States and edit the film prior to his army discharge.
The two Officers arrived at the American Red Cross Club at Princetown Road where they met Jean McDowell who ran a Guest House at number 6 Victoria Road, Bangor.
Jean was a former Nurse and suggested to the two that they might like to stay at her Guest House as it overlooked the Bay with all the ships at anchor.
Clark Gable stayed for an unspecified number of days at 6 Victoria Road however it is not known if Mrs McDowell had recognised the Hollywood Movie Star in her Guest House.
After his discharge from Military Service Gable wrote a personal letter to Miss McDowell and thanked her for her kindness to both him and his friend John Lee Mahin.
He enclosed a signed photo of himself and invited Mrs McDowell to spend a holiday at his ranch in California!
The letter and signed photograph was framed by Mrs McDowell and hung on her living room wall until her death in 1972.
The House is shown here and as can be seen from my photograph above there was an excellent view of all of the shipping in Bangor Bay. (Combat America & U.S. Treasury Poster. Thanks very much to Doreen Hamilton for the information and the Bangor Through The Years Facebook Page for their Help)
In 1895 Samuel Cleland Davidson, the founder of the Sirocco Engineering Works, bought the house and 18 acre grounds. On his death, the house passed to his youngest daughter Mrs Hadow.
During the Second World War, Mrs Hadow arranged for the house to be used as a convalescent home for officers, receiving about 250 patients. Mrs Hadow was later awarded the MBE for her services.
(Information an picture from Property News)
Bryansburn Road / Maxwell Road Bangor
This comparrison picture is taken at a slightly different angle however you can see the same house on the right side of the picture and even the same tree in full bloom!
On 20th July 1940 at shortly after 2pm the Steam Ship "Troutpool" was at the entrance to Bangor Harbour.
The ship was owned by Pool Shipping Co Ltd of Hartlepool and was carrying a cargo of 7,908 tons of grain from Argentina. She had put into port for degaussing in an attempt to prevent the activation of magnetically operated mines. When this had been dome the ship started its engines when it activated a magnetic mine.
This mine had been dropped previously by a long range Focke Wulf German Focke-Wulf Condor aircraft from 1st Staffelhof Kampfgeschwader 40. It had flown from Bordeau via Brest to belfast Lough for its Mine Laying Mission.
Some of the crew survived and were rescued by the "White Heather" which now serves as a pleasure craft from the same harbour however unfortunately 11 crewmen were killed.
The Condor aircraft headed towards Islandmagee and dropped some more mines however another remained in the racks and while flying at low level attempting to free this mine the Condor was sighted by gunners at Grey Point Fort.
Both left engines of the aircraft failed and the Condor crashed into the sea with 2 of the crew of 5 being lost and their bodies never recovered.
Two of the crewmen of the Troutpool - Thomas Beckett and Shief Ahmed are buried at Bangor New Cemetry with 3 other unidentified sailors from the same incident buried in one grave at Movilla Cemetry in Newtownards.
The remains of the ship now lie in 15m depth of water at the entrance to Bangor Harbour off what is known as Eisenhower Pier.
Shown here are a Luftwaffe Recognition Model of a Condor as well as a wooden plate showing a Condor Aircraft on the base. These are in a Museum in Berlin.
How Magnetic Mines were counteracted as shown in "The War Illustrated" from April 1940.
Shown above are two photographs showing Ballyholme Beach, Bangor.
As can be seen in the section on Eisenhower Pier Belfast Lough was filled with all types of naval shipping in the build-up to D-Day and throughout this time training continued. (From "From Belfast Lough To D-Day" book)
These pictures show a Landing Craft exercise on Ballyholme Beach.
LST-393 arrived in Northern Ireland on 10th April 1944, at the USNOB in Derry/Londonderry where together with LST-331 & 392 a number of installations and modifications were carried out on the vessels. With the work completed all three ships left in convoy on the 17th bound for Milford Haven, and shortly after 393 received orders to proceed independently to Belfast Lough.
The ship had anchored off Bangor by 18:00 on the 18th, and sailed to Larne on the 20th for what was described as experimental loading. After returning to anchor off Bangor, the ship then proceeded to Ballyholme beach on the 21st, where it completed two successful beaching displays for the benefit of the US Army before again retuning to its previous anchorage.
The ship returned to Ballyholme again on the 23rd for further loading operations with the US Army and the ship remained grounded until 01:00 on 24 April. By 06:30 the ship was again underway to practise beaching operations at Dundrum Bay. With the training exercises finished the ship then proceeded to Belfast's Pollock Dock where on the 27th it was loaded with US Army personnel and their vehicles before departing by 17:52 for Swansea in Wales. (Thanks to Jeff Mustard)
The Ballyholme area had a considerable military presence with the old "Caproni's" Ballroom, which stood facing Ballyholme Yacht Club where the appartments currently stand, having seen Glenn Miller play! American personel were billeted on the nearby tennis courts and putting green while the "Hotel Pickie" in Princetown Avenue in Bangor was used at an Officers Club by the U.S. Army.
(Many thanks to http://www.navsource.org)
Sand From Ballyholme Beach in U.S. Navy S.E.A.L.'s Memorial
Shown here is a brief Ceremony where some sand was removed from Ballyholme Beach and presented to U.S. Consul General Dan Lawton.
The sand is to form part of a new D-Day Memorial to U.S. Navy S.E.A.L’s on the Boardwalk at Virginia Beach, Virginia and will incorporate sand which has been collected from locations throughout the world where there is a link to American Forces who took part in the D-Day landings in Normandy.
The link is well illustrated throughout this website and the Ballyholme connection was ensured by M.L.A. Alan Chambers during contact with retired S.E.A.L. (SEa, Air, Land Team) Captain Rick Woolard of the Navy SEAL Museum.
Ballyholme Boatyard working for the Admiralty
Bertie Slater was a Scottish boat-builder who, during the inter-war years, developed a Boatyard in Ballyholme Bay.
With the Second World War the yard was kept occupied with contract work for the Admiralty however when he was offered three large sheds for the growing business bertie said that he thought the money could be better spent as part of the War Effort!
All that remains now of the Boatyard is the rails as shown in my photograph above along which dollies were used to move boats in and out of the water.
My latest photographs show that the old slipway and rails have now been concreted over. (Information from www.shipyardboats.co.uk)
Caproni's Ballroom, Ballyholme, Bangor
Caproni's was a favourite with Service Personel. (From Display in Bangor Museum)
This is Grey Point Fort which is at The Fort, Helens Bay and can be visited for free. It is also easily accessable from Crawfordsburn Country Park.
The fort consists of a number of buildings including Ammunition Magazine, Gun Batteries, Shelters, Obsetvation Post, Fire Command, Radar Platform and 3 searchlight emplacements.
This is the Master Gunners Store in which 2 Field Guns were kept.
Broken Boot Cleaner shown above with the inside of the Shelter seen below.
During the Second World War the Fort was used to protect Belfast Lough and as part of this role when any ship entered Belfast Lough it was contacted by Coastal Defence Personnel and asked to identify itself.
If there was no reply it was told "Heave to or be sunk" and if there was still no suitable response then a shell would have been fired across the ships bow as a final warning before opening fire with explosive shells.
Shown below is the Belfast District Grey Point Battery Site Plan which dates from 1911.
This is the Lift Mechanism which was used to bring Artillery Shells to the gun from the underground magazine.
The two photographs above and below show a territorial Army Training Day at Grey Point Fort in June 1938.
This is taking place in front of the Guard Room at the entrance to the complex which can still be seen today as shown above.
(Old photographs taken by Bonar Holmes. Thanks to Bonar Holmes)
The Workshop that faces the Guardroom seen above is shown below.
Here are some of the Peacock Family who lived in the Guardhouse in the 1960's (Thanks very much to Terry Callaghan)
Shown here is ‘A Troop, 339 Bty, Royal Artillery Bangor Northern Ireland December 1942’
339 were a Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery, and were also stationed at Hillhall near Lisburn at some stage before returning to England later in 1943 for the defence of the South Coast ports prior to D-Day. (Thanks very much to Calv Hobday)
Food being prepared for the Territorial Army Soldiers shown above. This is at Grey Point Fort. Photograph taken by Bonar Holmes. (Thanks to Bonar Holmes)
Lord Gort, Inspector General of Training is seen with Lieutenant Colonel C.B. Graham D.S.O. at Greypoint February 1941. (IWM Photograph)
Shown here is one of the 3 Searchlight Emplacements as well as a War Department Boundary Stone which marks the boundary of the Fort. The markings read "W.D. (War Department) No 1 To H.W.M. (High Water Mark) in line with B.S. (Boundary Stones) 1 & 2"
This is another Concrete protected Emplacement at Grey Point Fort however this one is outside the walled area.
This is a selection of Cartoons which were drawn during the Second World War and are on display at Grey Point Fort.
They are in a similar style to the old Seaside Postcards with the one above right dated 16th October 1940.
It is worthy of note that the cartoon below right has a sign on the tree pointing "To Kilroot Fort". - I have visited and photographed Kilroot Fort which is still in super condition. Scroll down County Down Part 1 on this website for Information and Photographs.
Shots from Grey Point Fort pass over Carrickfergus! (Thanks to Adrian Hack)
Preservation Work and Development at Grey Point Fort
My photographs above show a Searchlight Emplacement which was constructed in 1936.
This is the central Searchlight Emplacement which was constructed in 1940.
Searchlight Emplacement constructed in 1936.
Air Raid Shelter of Private Dwelling Uncovered at Grey Point
These photographs show a Second World War Air Raid Shelter which was uncovered at a Private Dwelling at Grey Point whilst renovation was taking place.
(Thanks very much to Ross Young)
Shown here is the High Street building as well as the Pickie Hotel which was used by the American Red Cross.
(Information from ww2 Telephone Book and Hotel Pickie picture from Bangor through the years facebook page)
This school was used as Military Hospital during the war although I am aware of nothing that remains today to illustrate its involvement.
Personel who worked in the Hospital were billited at the Pickie and Strand Hotels and the Pickie Hotel became home to the American Red Cross Club.
Orlock Point Searchlight Position
Orlock is on the coastal road from Groomsport towards Donaghadee and was home to one of the Coastal Defence Batteries along with Grey Point, East Twin Island (In Belfast) and Kilroot (See County Antrim section.)
As time has passed some of the buildings have gone with some being converted into private dwellings however this Searchlight Position can be found by anyone using the Coastal Path which is open to the public.
The top photograph shows how this building overlooks the sea and above left shows inside where you can see where the electric cables ran to the Searchlight building from the main Gun Position on the hill behind.
Groomsport Gun Battery
I was carrying out research for this website when I located a piece of military architecture from slightly more recent times.
One of a number of Heavy Anti-Aircraft Batteries built around Northern Ireland was situated near Groomsport at Ballymacormick Point.
On visiting the site 3 Gun Emplacements can be located however they were heavily overgrown on my visit.
This H.A.A. Battery was known as "B.A.2".
All three are located to the right of the tree in this picture which was taken with an old Royal Observer Corps bunker in the foreground.
The aerial photograph above shows the B.A.2 Gun Battery from above with the 4 Gun Positions visible. (Google)
This Picture shows the Territorial Army training in the same area as both the B.A.2 Gun Position and Cold War Bunker referred to above.
Yeaman buried in Carrowdore
Leading Aircraftman Richard George Yeaman, Service Number 1350724, was serving with 2957 Squadron, Royal Air Force Regiment, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve when he died on 27th April 1944 as the result of a Bullet Wound.
He was 27 years old and was the Son of William James Yeaman and Sarah Ann Yeaman, of Newtownards.
Probably one of the best known Pillboxes in Northern Ireland.
When travelling down the eastern side of the Ards Peninsula you should start at Donaghadee.
A short distance along the main road in the direction of Millisle is the townland of Ballyvester. On looking to your right at the Car Park you will see the pillbox shown here sitting on top of the hill.
A second example of Second World war architecture is the Air Raid Shelter at the nearby Ballyvester Road T junction and shown here.
This pillbox is in a nearby field and is in very good condition. Both these types appear to have flagstones as frontage and rather than facing the shore as you would expect they are both facing inland.
This Pillbox still has the original door.
Under Sea Cable at Ballyvester
During the Easter Tuesday Air Raid on Belfast a parachute Mine fell at the junction of Oxford Street and East Bridge Street causing considerable damage to the Central Telephone Exchange and destroying numerous telephone cables.
One of the effects of this was that contact was lost between local Anti-Aircraft Command Headquarters and Royal Air Force Fighter Control in Lancashire.
The telephone link passed under the Cable Hut / Repeater Station shown in these pictures.
The old Cable Hut has now been replaced by a private dwelling.
During the war this building was protected by Home Guard personnel who were billeted nearby.
(Thanks very much to Mr George Busby for these pictures)
My picture above shows that the old building has since been converted into a Private Dwelling.
Royal Air Force Greystone
The old photographs above and below show one of the two Chain Home Transmitter Buildings (One being a Stand-by) which were constructed south of the larger building, which is shown below. Both of the Transmitter Buildings have now been demolished. (Thanks to Edward Boyle and Tomas Boyle for the pictures)
This is a Chain Home station between Ballywalter and Millisle which was part of the extensive system which covered the United Kingdom.
It was a basic radar system which could determine distance and direction of incoming aircraft formations, giving rise to its initial name of RDF (Radio Direction Finding).
These stations were able to measure the elevation of the formation, which knowing the range gave the height.
Signals were sent from wires and the Chain Home stations were arranged around the British coast and were first tested in 1940 during the Battle of Britain.
This Chain Home station can be found at Ganaway Road, Millisle where it is in the field beside a caravan park. - It was known to the R.A.F. Personnel who worked there as R.A.F. Greystone.
The three photographs above show the Buildings on the opposite side of the Road from the large concrete building.
It was here where personnel enjoyed some food and refreshments.
Inside is the usual Two-Tone paint scheme in colours which can be seen in lots of similar buildings I have visited.
I always look upon signs as an indication of the fact that these places were used by people during the War.
In this Building there are a number of Signs as shown above and below.
It is interesting to note that there appears to be a Key Number painted above the lock on the Door to the "Local Produce"
Lieutenant Colonel Robert Blair "Paddy" Mayne
Robert Blair Mayne was one of the greatest soldiers of the Second World War and a founding member of the Special Air Service.
He was born on 11th January 1915 at the family home, "Mount Pleasant" in Newtownards, County Down, Northern Ireland. - Registration of Birth shown in my photograph below.
After attending Regent House Grammar School (Which is shown below) he went to Queens University, Belfast where he read Law before qualifying as a Solicitor and joining McLaine And Sons Solicitors in Belfast. (Colourised photograph above from Matthew Harron)
This is a selection of photographs thanks to Kay Neagle
British Lions in Argentina in 1927 with Blair Mayne.
Ulster in 1937 shown above.
Rugby Match between Queens University Belfast and University College Dublin in 1937. Blair Mayne top centre (From Ciaran Donaghy)
(Thanks very much to Ian Wallace for the pictures above)
Blair is shown playing Rugby for Queens University in picture below (From Masonic websire)
Blair was an excellent sportsman and when at Queens became the Irish Universities Boxing Champion. He was also a Rugby player with 6 caps for Ireland and 1938 he was chosen for the British Lions tour of South Africa.
Shown above in Ireland Squad against England in 1938 (Fifth from left in back row)
In February 1939 Blair was commissioned as a Second-Lieutenant in the 5 Light Anti-Aircraft Battery at Movilla Road Camp in Newtownards and when war was declared on 3rd September 1939 the regiment was dispatched to North Africa however Blair remained and moved through a number of Regiments such as the Royal Ulster Rifles, The Cameronians and then the 11th (Scottish) Commando.
In January 1941 the Commando was part of "Layforce" and headed to the Middle East under the command of Brigadier Laycock. It was during the Litani River Raid in Lebanon that Blair was "Mentioned in Dispatches" for his actions in leading his men against Vichy French Forces. The raid had resulted in approx 130 soldiers being killed. This equated to around one third of the Commando.
A Scots Guard officer, Captain David Stirling, had meanwhile proposed a small highly trained Unit of men who were to operate behind enemy lines. After facing much opposition from the High Command Stirling was finally able to present his idea to the Commander In Chief. Stirling won the day and was permitted to form a Unit of 60 men. Having heard of Paddy's actions at Litani River Stirling recruited him into his new Unit.
These men were to be known as L Detachment Special Air Service.
L Detachment's first raid resulted in failure however things improved when they teamed up with the Long Range Desert Group and the "Colonel Paddy" legend began on 8th December 1941 with attacks on Tamet and Sirte.
Irish Rugby Team, Ravenhill Park, Belfast 11th March 1939 (From Mayne Family connection)
Ireland in 1939 (Ciaran Donaghy)
The combined Ireland and Scotland team which faced England and Wales in aid of the Red Cross 16th December 1939
The two photographs above are from the World Rugby Museum and show the British Lions leaving Waterloo Railway Station, London for the 1938 Tour of South Africa.
(Coloured picture by OCD)
Departing Southampton aboard the Union Castle Liner RMMV Stirling Castle 20th May 1938 on British Lions Tour. (Topical Press Agency Getty Image)
Blair Mayne, British Lion Number 307 is seen on board ship to South Africa
Cigarette Cards re Blair Mayne on British Lions Tour.
Blair as a young man on the left and a Getty Image of him on the right.
Blair Mayne with his Brother Douglas who was serving with the Royal Air Force (Mayne Family Photograph)
Seen below is Blair Mayne with S.A.S. Troops playing Rugby. (Photograph from Gavin Mortimer Collection. Irish Times)
With Field Marshall Montgomery (History Channel picture)
(Origin of photograph unknown)
Paddy Mayne, an S.A.S. Jeep and Hylands House - Amazing Story!
(Picture above from Kay Neagle)
Shown below is a Letter to Blair Mayne from Bob Laycock at Combined Operations Headquarters (Origin unknown)
(Picture of Blair Mayne above from Irish Times)
Mayne along with 7 soldiers attacked and destroyed about 25 enemy aircraft on the ground as well as fuel and ammunition dumps. This action resulted in him being awarded his first Distinguished Service Order.
He returned to Tamet with 5 men on 27th December 1941 and destroyed a further 27 aircraft and other vehicles. Having used all his explosives he was seen to destroy some of the aircraft with his bare hands by ripping out the electrical equipment from the cockpits!!
Following this action he was promoted to Second In Charge of L Detachment S.A.S.
In early July 1942 L Detachment had been equipped with Willys Jeeps which were fitted with Vickers K machine guns and the first jeep raid took place on Kufra. Further such raids took place resulting in numerous enemy aircraft being destroyed on the ground at places like El Daba, Fuka and Sidi Haneish.
L Detachment became the 1st Special Air Service Regiment on 21st September 1942 and following David Sterling's capture at the start of the year Robert Blair Mayne became Lieutenant Colonel Mayne in charge of the Special Air Service.
On 10th - 11th July 1943 Blair Mayne led his men to Sicily where they landed at Capo Murro Di Porco capturing 2 gun positions and hundreds of Italian soldiers. The action continued the following day with a landing at Augusta where the town was soon captured and Blair Mayne received the 1st bar to his D.S.O.
On 9th - 10th August 1944 Blair parachuted into France behind enemy lines. He was operating for a few days before driving back through the lines at Normandy and returned to England. With the recce completed he was again parachured into France on 19th August with the drop-zone near Orleans. With 20 air dropped Jeeps he pushed back and forward through enemy lines using the vehicle mounted machine guns to kill numerous German soldiers.
For these actions he was awarded the second Bar to his Distinguished Service Order.
On 10th April 1945 1st S.A.S. were involved in "Operation Howard" and near the village of Borgerwald the Special Air Service men were ambushed resulting in their Commanding Officer being killed. Blair took over and manned the guns on their jeep. With an officer driving they made several attachs up and down the road firing the guns until he was able to rescue the wounded and recover the dead. Blair's actions resulted in a German retreat!!
For his amazing actions Blair Mayne was recommended for a Victoria Cross, the highest military honour, however he was to receive a 3rd Bar to his Distinguished Service Order.
As with other "Special Forces" Soldiers Blair Mayne had difficulty adjusting to life after the war. This was not helped by the back pain he suffered from connected to parachute drops. He went to the Falkland Islands with Lord Hunt's expedition of 1945 however continuing pain forced his return to Northern Ireland.
Sadly "Colonel Paddy" was killed in a road traffic accident whilst driving the red Riley car he referred to as his "Big Red Fire Engine". The accident took place at Mill Street, Newtownards where his car struck a telegraph pole.
The mural shown above. is dedicated to the memory of "Colonel Paddy" and can be seen at the junction of Queen Street and Upper Movilla Street in Newtownards. (Picture from alchetron.com)
Shown above is the Report of Major General Vokes of the Canadian Infantry relating to the actions of Paddy Mayne and below is the Report recommending a Victoria Cross and then the Award of the 3rd Bar of Distinguished Service Order. (From S.A.S. War Diary)
Paddy's medals and some other items including an Escape Map, Fighting Knife and Forage Cap. *****PLEASE DO NOT COPY MY PHOTOGRAPHS*****
This photograph shows Blair Mayne and the S.A.S. coming under incoming Fire whilst on operations in France.
"Colonel Paddy" can be seen leaning against the tree on the right. (Photograph from S.A.S. Regimental Association Archive)
Shown here is a Menu from a Meal which was attended by Blair Mayne. As can be seen he has signed the Menu. (Thanks very much to Nick Norwood)
(Photographs of Blair Mayne shown above thanks to John Menown)
Above left is Blair Mayne's Riley Car outside Mount Pleasant and on the right a Happy Blair Mayne. (Thanks to Jimmy Furphy)
Blair Mayne (Getty photograph and The Mirror Photograph)
Colourised photograph by Zero Soy Pics
Above are two of the best known pictures of Blair Mayne - Which appear to be one photograph which has been reversed and cropped! (IWM Picture)
Robert Blair 'Colonel Paddy' Mayne, Special Air Service.
Blair Mayne showing injuries received after the first abortive parachute drop in the desert at Tamimi in November 1941.
(Photograph from Mayne Family Collection as shown in 'Rogue Warrior of the S.A.S. by Roy Bradford and Martin Dillon)
Kabrit in 1942. Left to right Unknown, Captain Randolf Churchill, David Stirling and Robert Blair Mayne. (IWM Picture)
David Stirling on the left with Blair Mayne in the Desert in 1942 (Origin unklnown)
Blair Mayne above ready for Rugby. Top right with Montgomery in the desert and bottom right standing on American Landing Craft prior to setting out for Termoli Landings. (Thanks to Stephen W. Loughlin)
Blair Mayne. (From Mayne Family Collection)
(Photograph thanks to Kay Neagle)
Blair Mayne in 'Battle Picture Weekly' Comic
From Battle Picture Weekly 26 April 1975. Script by Eric Hebden and art by Colin Paige (Thanks very much to Paul Trimble)
Someone has put a Poppy on his statue for Remembrance Day 2021.
Blair's funeral was on 16th December 1955 and took place with thousands of mourners. The pictures above show the funeral procession going along Scrabo Road towards Mill Street in Newtownards (Origin of first picture not known. Second from BBC) He is buried at Movilla Cemetry, Newtownards in the family plot while there is a full size bronze statue of Paddy in the heart of the town of Newtownards directly outside the Town Hall at Conway Square.
To find the final resting place of "Colonel Paddy" on entering the main gate of Movilla Cemetry make your way immediately left to the ruin of the old Abbey and the plot is only a few yards in front of you!
S.A.S. Veterans at Blair Mayne's Grave in 1997
On the extreme left is Bob Bennet and on the extreme right may be Reg Seekings. (Thanks to Jimmy Russell Norman)
The Mayne Family Home "Mount Pleasant" was gutted by fire some years ago however it has now been completely renovated and as well as a Blue Plaque on the house the plaque shown above is on the gate pillars of the Driveway to Mount Pleasant.
A nearby road has also been named in his memory.
Lieutenant Colonel Robert Blair "Colonel Paddy" Mayne Handguns
These personal weapons belonging to Colonel Blair Mayne were donated to 22 Special Air Service Regiment in March 1990 by Mr James Douglas Mayne (Colt) and Mr George Matthews (Walther) - This Photograph by Kind Permission of the SAS Regimental Association. DO NOT COPY.
The weapons shown above belonged to Colonel Robert Blair Mayne.
This Photograph by Kind Permission of the SAS Regimental Association. DO NOT COPY. (Thanks very much to the Regimental Association and Mr Steven Kerr)
Blair "Colonel Paddy" Mayne is also remembered in Scotland as illustrated by the photographs below.
This Memorial is at Darvel in East Ayrshire, Scotland where he was based in 1944. (Thanks very much to Martyn Boyd for the Photographs)
The Memorial being unveiled by Special Air Service Veterans. (Thanks to Martyn Boyd)
Army Illustrated Magazine from Middle East Command article shown below.
Tommy Maxwell Royal Marine S.B.S. - Movilla Cemetery, Newtownards
Tommy was born in Belfast on 16th May 1922 and on leaving school at 14 years of age he started work at Kiltonga Mill, Newtownards before joining the Royal Marines as a Boy Soldier in 1938 when he was 16.
Tommy was initially stationed in Portsmouth and was Sea Service Battery 62 before joining H.M.S. Cairo which was a C Class Cruiser. Within a year he was serving in Palestine in response to what was referred to as the “Arab Revolt”.
In early April 1940 H.M.S. Cairo was involved in escorting the Military Convoy “NP 1” taking Troops to the landings at Narvik with Tommy being a member of one of the Gun Crews. (The picture below show a Gun Position aboard H.M.S. Cairo with smoke rising from Narvik in the background. Public Domain)
Later in 1940 Tommy was at Dunkirk and then was involved in assisting Free Polish personnel to escape their German Occupied homeland before seeing action at Crete in 1941.
H.M.S. Cairo was part of the Irish Sea Force with Western Approaches Command until February 1942 when she left Greenock on 9th February taking a “Trade Delegation” to Murmansk for discussions with the Russians.
Having arrived at Kola Inlet on 15th they stayed until leaving on 18th to return safely to Scapa Flow and on to Greenock.
Following some repair to the ship in Belfast Tommy was aboard when it sailed to Gibraltar and from there was involved in Escort operations to Malta.
H.M.S. Cairo left Gibraltar on 18th April along with ten other Ships who were all escorting the American Aircraft Carrier U.S.S. Wasp with its valuable cargo of Spitfire aircraft for Malta!
In June 1942 Tommy again found himself in the Mediterranean having left Belfast on 3rd to provide Anti-Aircraft defence for Convoy WS19Z and was under attack starting 14th from Italian Aircraft and Submarine.
This action continued for the next few days with another ship (H.M.S. Liverpool) being damaged and having to return to Gibraltar.
On 15th H.M.S. Cairo was in action against Italian ships and was hit by 2 Six Inch Shells which caused serious damage as well as being subjected to air attack before finally reaching Malta on 16th.
This had been a considerable action with four of the merchant ships in the Convoy having been sunk during the voyage and then the Polish Destroyer Escort Ship O.R.P. Kujawiak was mined and sunk at the entrance to Valetta Harbour.
H.M.S. Badsworth and H.M.S. Matchless were so seriously damaged that they had to stay at Malta while the Cairo returned to Gibraltar on 19th for repairs to take place.
H.M.S. Cairo (Navy Photos by Mark Teadham)
After a successful return trip from Gibraltar to Malta and back 11th August saw Tommy and H.M.S. Cairo again in action when providing close escort for a Malta Relief Convoy.
On 12th August the ship was going through the Sicilian Narrows when it was hit aft by two Torpedoes which had been fired by the Italian Submarine Axum.
Being totally disabled H.M.S. Cairo was abandoned with survivors, including Tommy, being rescued by H.M.S. Wilton.
Tommy had been wounded during this action with shrapnel wounds to his right thigh and left calf.
He received treatment on board H.M.S. Kenya and amazingly the Medical Case Sheet says “Up and walking without pain. This man is fit for transit” On 14th August his Medical Notes show that he was discharged from the Military Hospital at Gibraltar.
Within just one week of having been wounded on board H.M.S. Cairo Tommy was again involved in a major operation, this time being the Raid on Dieppe.
Having been involved in the Special Service Brigade Tommy joined 44 Commando in 1943 and received training in Wales before going to Achnacarry.
In 1944 Tommy was serving with 3rd Cammando Brigade in India.
He operated for some time in the Pacific Theatre and Burma where, in 1945, he was shot in the head. He received treatment at various places including the Bombay Naval Hospital and Stoke Mandeville Hospital in England.
In 1946 Tommy was at the Royal Naval Hospital at Barrow Gurney near Bristol where he received Electric Shock and Insulin treatment for what is now referred to as Post Traumatic Stress and the effects of having been shot in the head a year previously.
He had been targeted by a Sniper who had secured himself in the top of a tree and Tommy’s injury was such that he had a metal plate fitted in his head where the bullet had hit him above his right eye.
Tommy finally returned home having seen action in a wide variety of places and having been awarded a number of Medals which are shown above. These are:-
The General Service Medal with “Palestine” Clasp
The 1939 - 1945 Star
The Atlantic Star
The Africa Star
The Burma Star with “Pacific” Clasp
The Italy Star
The Arctic Star
The Defence Medal
The 1939 - 1945 War Medal
The Dunkirk Medal,
The Malta George Cross Fiftieth Anniversary Medal and no less than five Russian Medals including the Ushakov Medal for British Veterans of the Arctic Convoys for which President Vladimir Putin signed the Decree on 10th March 2014. (Shown below)
This is the little "Active Service Edition" Bible which Tommy carried with him throughout the war and he is seen on the right with his Wife Georgie Maxwell. The photograph was taken in the 1950's when he was with the Territorial Army.
He received a Full Disability War Pension however his head wound and subsequent treatment caused him problems for the rest of his life but even after all this he joined the Territorial Army and served as a Sergeant Instructor in the early 1950's
Tommy died on 21st December 2011 and is buried in Movilla Cemetery, Newtownards.
Tommy Maxwell - "By Strength and Guile"
(My Sincere thanks to Tony, Kathleen and Ray Maxwell without whom this item would not be possible) ***PLEASE DO NOT COPY THIS ARTICLE***
Flight Lieutenant Aubrey Doherty D.F.C. and Regent House School
Robert Aubrey Alexander Doherty joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in Belfast in July 1939.
He went to Number 3 Initial Training Wing at Hastings in September and received Ground Training until the following April when he went to Elementary Flying Training School for experience on Tiger Moths.
After 50 hours he progressed to other aircraft and operational flying with Wellington Bombers.
On 24th October 1941 Doherty was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross when serving with 104 Squadron. - The recommendation is shown below left.
On 23rd February 1945 Flight Lieutenant Doherty was serving with 608 Squadron Pathfinder Force and flying Mosquito Mk XX, KB350, 6T-B on a mission to Essen, Germany.
The aircraft was lost without trace.
When he was Killed Flight Lieutenant Doherty had taken part on 65 Missions which is more than two tours!
The Air Training Corps at Regent House School have now named their building "The Doherty Building as shown above. - Photographs from the Ceremony are below.
Finally this is the Second World War Memorial Plaque which can be seen in the foyer of the school (Many thanks to Tony Osborne for all his assistance)
Display relating to Flight Lieutenant Doherty at Ulster Aviation Society, Long Kesh.
Ex Servicemen on Parade in Newtownards
This photograph shows Ex Servicemen on Parade in Conway Square, Newtownards in 1950. (Thanks very much to John Heron)
Conway Square, Newtownards shown in 1942. An Air Raid Shelter can be seen in the centre of the photograph.
(Thanks to Andrew Miskimmin)
West Winds Housing Estate, Newtownards
Shown above are the gravestones of W.E.Heller, H Komenda and H.A. Flechter.
Wing Commander Heller was navigator in Avro Anson Mk 1, N5372 which was being flown from the General Reconnaissance School at R.A.F. Squires Gate on a navigation exercise.
It had taken off at approximately 19.40 and crashed at 21.15 at Drumavoley Road, Glenshesk, Ballycastle.
The following information is from Aviation-Safety.net website:-
"The aircraft was being flown by Flying Officer Cooper and he attempted a forced-landing, but struck a tree before crashing into a house in Drumavoley Road, Glenshesk, Ballycastle, which at the time was owned by Charles Blaney. Mr Blaney’s wife and their five children were at home as was a young woman from County Donegal, 22 year old Josephine McGroarty, who was staying there at the time.
She was standing outside the house with her boyfriend John Greer from Ballycastle. John was thrown clear as the aircraft came sliding into a fatal impact with the house. Josephine McGroarty was tragically killed as were two of those on board the aircraft."
The Pilot, Flying Officer Cooper, who was thrown from the aircraft, later stated “On the last leg of the exercise, the aircraft was flying at 2,400 feet. It was however eleven miles to the starboard of track, a fact not known to the crew. I decided to descend to 2,000 feet to avoid another aircraft. We approached from the downwind side of the mountain, and the wind was 150 degrees at 35/40 kms per hour. There would have been an extensively strong down draft as we approached the mountainside. After the aircraft struck Knockgavd, SOS procedures were carried out and preparations were made for a ditching.”
All I know of Kpl H. Komenda is that he was a member of 256 Squadron, Royal Air Force and was killed on 9th July 1942 at the age of 22.
Sergeant W.E. Flegler was a pilot with 315 City of Deblin Squadron and was killed whilst training in battle formation cloud flying and interception photography. He had been carrying out interception practice 1 1/2 miles northwest of Ballyhalbert.
Leading Aircraftwoman Annie Irvine, Service Number 2165476, was 30 years old when she died on 24th December 1945.
Serving with the Women's Auxiliary Air Force Annie was the Daughter of Alfred Norwood Irvine and Gertrude Helen Irvine, of Belfast.
Gunner John Edmonds, Service Number 1469241, was 35 years old. He was serving with 5 Battery, 9 Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery.
Gunner Edmonds died on 20th April 1947.
He was the Son of David and Maria Edmonds of Newtownards and Husband of Florence Edmonds, of Newtownwards.
Driver James Hubbard, Service Number T/185541, was 29 years old when he died on 24th August 1941.
James was serving with 4 Bridge Company, Royal Army Service Corps.
He was the Son of Thornton and Annie Gertrude Hubbard of Boreham Wood Hertfordshire and Husband of Edith Mary Hubbard, of Boreham Wood.
Fusilier James Graham,Service Number 3129435, was 24 years old and serving with 1st Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers.
Fusilier Graham died on 13th December 1940.
He was the Son of Samuel and Sophia Graham, of Newtownards.
Ordinary Seaman John Johnston, Service Number D/JX 619483, was serving with the Royal Navy.
He was 20 years old when he died on 26th June 1947.
John eas the Son of James and Mary Jane Johnston of Newtownards.
Rifleman Charles Maxwell, Service Number 7022229, was 20 years old and serving with 70th Battalion, Royal Ulster Rifles.
Sergeant (Air Gunner) Peter Charles Hunter Phillips, Service Number 1312411, was serving with Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.
He was 21 years old when he died on 9th July 1942.
Peter was the Son of Hunter Phillips and of Elsie Phillips, of Fowcy, Cornwall.
Fusilier David Francis Prosser, Service Number 4193168, was serving with the Royal Welch Fusiliers.
David was the Son of Walter Austin Prosser and Annie Prosser; husband of Jeannie Prosser, of Newtownards.
Sydney Murray, Air Gunner, Royal Air Force
Driver Hugh Erin Reid, Service Number 1893526, was 34 years old and serving with Royal Engineers when he died on 9th April 1940.
He was the Husband of E. J. Reid, of Newtownards.
Sergeant (U/T Wireless Op./Mechanic) Alfred White, Service Number 540565, was serving with the Royal Air Force.
Alfred died on 1st October 1940. He was the Son of Alfred J. White and Ada B. H. White, of Heanor, Derbyshire.
Pilot Officer Hugh Wilson was a Wireless Operator / Air Gunner serving with Royal Air Force Bomber Command in 90 Squadron when he was Killed in Action on the night of 25th / 26th August 1944.
On that particular night the Lancaster aircraft of 90 Squadron were on a Bombing raid to the Opel Factory at Russelsheim, Germany.
These are a pair of Brothers.
Henry Corry was serving with 175 Battery, 66th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery and his Brother, David, was with the Royal Scots Fusiliers.
These headstones are a short distance from each other.
Flight Sergeant Raymond Farquhar Simpson was serving with the Royal New Zealand Air Force.
On 18th November 1943 he was in Lockheed Hudson Aircraft AE653 flying from Number 5 (Coastal) Operational Training Unit at Long Kesh and taking part in Rocket Firing Practice when the aircraft crashed into Strangford Lough.
Billy Hull, D Squadron, 1 Special Air Service, Movilla Cemetery, Newtownards
William Hull was born on 9th July 1922 at 33 Barrington Street, Donegall Road Belfast.
Whilst serving with the Royal Ulster Rifles he was stationed in Newtownards where he met and later married Betty Caddell.
He became Trooper 7017936, D Squadron, Special Air Service and became Blair Mayne's Driver of the specially adapted Jeeps used by the S.A.S. in France, Belguim, Germany and Norway.
Whilst at the S.A.S. Depot at Chelmsford, Essex he was preparing for a Special Operation behind Enemy Lines with a number of other Rifles when, 24 hours prior to the beginning of the Operation, he received new Orders to join Captain Anderson on a different mission.
Hull appealed to Paddy Mayne to permit him to stay with the initial Operation however, fortunately for Billy, this was refused. - This was part of Operation Gain and the story of what happened to those men became known as "The Garstin Stick" - Click www.ww2ni.webs.com/countyarmaghpart3.htm
Billy had been one of 10 Royal Ulster Rifles who had joined the Special Air service at the same time and he was the only ne to survive the War!
(Many thanks to Gary Hull (Son of Billy Hull) as well as Nigel Newell for photograph and John Robertson)
Newtownards 25pdr Field Gun
This 25 Pdr Field Gun, Serial Number 15212, can be seen at the Army Reserve Building at Crawfordsburn Road, Newtownards.
Nissen Huts at North Road, Newtownards
This aerial photograph shows North Road, Newtownards with Bangor Road to the right and the Quarry top left.
In the centre of the photograph can be seen a number of concrete bases for Nissen Huts. (PRONI)
Newtownards Airfield Defensive Structure
This impressive structure was part of the defences for Ards Airfield however it is on Portaferry Road. With the building being underground I have provided the very basic plan drawing to show the layout along with these photographs of inside.
The top two photographs show the first port which can be seen on entering the structure. This is photographed from the first room with the next picture showing the way towards the second room.
These pictures show the approach to the second room and then inside. There are no ports in this room whilst the third room which is shown below has three through which to provide defensive fire.
Another Newtownards Airfield Defensive Structure
As with the Structure shown above this one is also at Portaferry Road, Newtownards and was part of the defences for Newtownards Airfield.
The two photographs below show the entrance from above and then one of the Firing Positions.
Inside the structure with the picture on the right looking into Room 2 and through to the steps going down towards Room 3.
Below left is in Room 2 with the picture on the right showing Room 3.
Shown on the left are the steps down to Room 4 which has three gun positions. Two of these are shown in the photograph above. An impressive structure.
This is a pillbox that can be found on the shore of Strangford Lough between Comber and Newtownards.
It is positioned to have an excellent view of the Lough and is best found by using the coastal path which runs from the Flood Gates Car Park in Newtownards to the Water Treatment plant where it is situated in a corner beside the perimeter fence.
The grass on the top is an interesting camouflage feature which remains in place. ***PLEASE DO NOT COPY THIS PHOTOGRAPH***
Wooden doors seen from inside
Some interesting wording. Possible 'Ese Huts' and the bottom line 'War Reserve'??
Inside one Hut is shown above with the second below.
Toilet inside one of the huts
Old Perimeter Fenceposts on Greengraves Road
Hut Wording - Looks like 'War Reserve'
Camperdown Heavy Anti-Aircraft Gun Battery, Comber
At the outbreak of the Second World War the City of Belfast was is a very serious position being easy to locate from the air due to its sitting at the head of Belfast Lough.
It was almost totally undefended in 1939 and to make matters even worse Anti Aircraft Units were moved to Britain!
In June 1940 Belfast was protected by the total of 7 A.A. Guns which was increased to 6 Light A.A. and 16 H.A.A. Guns by Spring 41.
When hostilities began Anti-Aircraft Command had 695 HAA guns, many of which were obsolete, 253 LAA guns and 2700 searchlights which may sound reasonable until you consider the approved totals required which were 2232 HAA, 1200 LAA and 4128 Searchlights.
On the left is where shells were stored for one of the guns whilst on the right is where telephone communications took place from the Operations Room.
Below shows the shelving where the Shells were kept.
Shown here is Heavy Anti Aircraft Battery LR3 which consists of 4 Gun pits with the centrally located Command Post and larger Accommodation building.
Such positions were manned chiefly by 102 Heavy Anti Aircraft Regiment and this one can be seen from the Comber to Dundonald walkway on the right between Ballyrainey and the Soccer School of Excellence.
As you can see from my photographs all but one of the structures which made up this Position have now been demolished.
Air Ministry Radio Station, Belfast Road, Comber
The Aerial Photograph above was taken on 14th July 1951 and clearly shows Camperdown Heavy Anti-Aircraft Gun Battery as indicated at the upper arrow.
However if you look at the lower arrow this is an Air Ministry Radio Station.
In this photograph you can see the shadows made by the five large masts which surrounded the building. This is now a Private Dwelling (Thanks very much to George Busby)
Craigantlet Medium Frequency Direction Finding Buildings
This building can be seen at Craigantlet on the hill between Holywood and Newtownards.
I have been told there were 2 large wooden masts beside the building which have now gone. These had white insulators and the station was the Medium Frequency, Direction Finding (MF/DF) station allocated to Belfast / Sydenham.
Inside the building you can see the original pale blue colouring.
Where the old stove stood can be seen and the holes around where the dart board once hung shows that more practice was required!!
It was very pleasing to discover that some individuals have left their initials in the brickwork of this air raid shelter.
At one of the entrances is "B.M W.M A.W Aug 26 1942"
In his autobiography "McAughtry's War" Sam McAughtry tells of being the Navigator in a Beaufighter well out over the Atlantic Ocean and turning in the direction of Islay. He made a radio call to this Radio Station and "All the way across 500 miles that signal came, and I swear I smelt soda bread baking as the morse reached my earphones".
Fusilier William Francis Harold Harris of the Royal Irish Fusiliers died on 30th January 1941.
Private William Gideon Lakin of the North Staffordshire Rrgiment died on 18th December 1941.
Colour Quarter Master Sergeant Francis Bowman Morgan of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps died on 6th July 1942.
All these men have been laid to rest in the Church of Ireland Church at Ballykinler which is shown below with a U.S. Jeep outside.
The Royal Artillery at Newcastle
Shown here is Headquarters 14th (Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire) Medium Regiment, Royal Artillery shown in Newcastle in 1943 having arrived from their Anti-Aircraft Defensive duties around Falmouth in Cornwall.
These Troops were at Newcastle for Gunnery Training which entailed firing at drogue targets which were being towed at sea.
Included in this photograph is Albert Edward "Monty" Taylor who can be seen 5th from the right in the Second Row who, on release, was a Bombardier in 165 Battery, 86 Medium Regiment, Royal Artillery
(Sincere thanks to Peter Taylor for this photograph and information)
The "Coolgreeny" Mess was situated on Downs Road, Newcastle. (Photograph from Paul Martin)
Ulster Home Guard, Newcastle
I believe this photograph was taken at Golf Links Road, Newcastle beside the Slieve Donard Hotel. (From the History of Newcastle Facebook page)
Belgian Soldiers in Newcastle
Soldiers from 6th Infantry Brigade, Belgian Army were in the Newcastle area for some time.
The photographs here are from the Private Collection of Staf Verhoeven whose Father Ludovicus Verhoeven took them whilst in Northern Ireland.
Below is a group photograph of the Belgian Soldiers which has been described on the back as "Tullybrannigan, New-Castle, Ireland"
********Please Do Not Copy******** (Thanks very much to Staf Verhoeven for these Photographs)
Interesting to note that after a Woodland Fire the pictures above were taken by Charles McRoberts showing spent cases in the area of Tullybrannigan River. Included in the find were American M1 Garrand Ammunition Clips as seen in the top two pictures. (Credit to Charles McRoberts)
Tullybrannigan Cemetery, Newcastle
Lieutenant-Colonel Adam Desmond Woods, Military Cross and Bar.
Lieutenant-Colonel Desmond Woods was in Palestine with the Royal Ulster Rifles during 1938 when he was involved in an action which resulted in the award of a Military Cross.
He was subsequently awarded a Bar to his M.C. for his action in Italy during 1944.
Adam Desmond Woods had been an Instructor at Mons OCTU during 1942 and joined the 2nd Battalion, the London Irish Rifles at Termoli, Italy a year later.
Having taken command of H Company, Woods received orders to capture a bridge on the River Moro. Suspecting that the bridge was mined and that the Germans were there in considerable strength, he insisted on sending out a patrol to reconnoitre the position.
After the patrol reported, the company attack was upgraded to a battalion attack and, following a visit by the brigadier, revised again to an attack in brigade strength.
On May 11 1944, the Allies launched Operation Diadem and the final battle began for the fortress of Monte Cassino.
The Germans had well prepared defences behind the River Rapido including mortars, machineguns, and 88mm guns cemented into pillboxes.
The infantry were in the cellars of fortified farmhouses or in slit trenches in the gardens.
After a small bridgehead had been made over the Rapido, on May 15, at first light, three companies of the London Irish formed part of 78 Division’s attack on the heart of the Gustav Line.
“Everything in the garden is not exactly rosy, sir,” observed Woods’s company sergeant-major, who had a distinctly quirky sense of humour. Advancing straight up the Liri Valley behind a heavy artillery barrage, H Company encountered fierce resistance, but the enemy strong points were overcome.
In the assault on the fortified village of Sinagogga, Woods took part of his company in ahead of the tanks, under intense small arms and shellfire, and neutralised the German anti-tank weapons.
H Company’s capture of the village was largely responsible for the success of the operation but Woods lost two platoon officers and two-thirds of his company in reaching the objective. His outstanding leadership and skilful handling of his company was recognised by the award of a bar to his Military Cross.
In July, Woods took part in an action at Lake Trasimene in which he was wounded in the leg by a stick grenade.
He was mentioned in dispatches, but soon after was medically downgraded and moved to a holding centre near Caserta.
The medals shown in a photograph on the headstone of David Magee are The 1939 - 1945 Star, The Africa Star, The France and Germany Star, The Defence Medal and the 1939-1945 War Medal.
Belgian Soldiers On The Move
These photographs are from the Ludovicus Verhoeven Collection and show some L.C.T.'s (Landing Craft Tanks)
In the picture on the right you can see Ludovicus on L.S.T. 366. which, although built by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation in Massachusetts, was operated by the Royal Navy.
Launched on 11th November 1942 the ship was in service until 26th January 1946 when it was returned to the United States Navy.
********Please Do Not Copy******** (Thanks very much to Staf Verhoeven for these Photographs)
The location can be found in Donard Car Park just off the Main Street in Newcastle.
When in the Car Park if you look towards the mountains with the football pitch in front of you it should be possible to see this view. - My photo is the same tree as it looks today.
Some evidence of the Camp remains such as this Concrete Path and Concrete base for one of the many Nissen Huts which were in this part of Donard Park.
In the same area is where part of the 11th Infantry 5th Infantry Division were based at what was Donard Lodge however the old house was demolished in the 1960's.
Shimna House, Newcastle
The photograph above shows how "Shimna House" once looked.
It was used by U.S. Forces during the Second World War. (Picture from The History of Newcastle. County Down)
5th Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment are seen on exercise in the Newcastle Area below. (Imperial War Museum Photographs)
The Royal Artillery in Newcastle
This photograph shows the Pillbox above as seen from offshore.
It was also known as AMES Type 1 meaning Air Ministry Experimental Station and had a radar fixed to the top of radio tower masts to facilitate the long range detection of aircraft.
First tested during the Battle of Britain the Chain Home System was a success and fortunately, even though a number of stations were attacked, the Germans did not realise how important the masts were and did not attack them.
Shown here are some examples of Chain Home which are in the Kilkeel area.
There is a classic Guardroom (Above Right) as well as 4 other buildings. During the war these were covered in earth with lots of foliage grown on top to provide camouflage as can be seen in the picture of the large building shown below.
James Quinn From Kilkeel serving with U.S. Army
James Quinn was originally from Kilkeel.
He is seen third from the right in the photograph above while his Dog Tags are shown on the right.
Top line is his name with his Service Number on the second line. T44 means he received his Tetanus Injection in 1944 and the "C" refers to his religion as Roman Catholic with "A" being hs Blood Group.
James was serving with 563rd Ambulance Company, United States Army.
(Visit Bagnels castle Museum in Newry for lots more)
Robert Leslie Girvan, Royal Ulster Rifles, Buried Kilkeel
Rifleman Robert Leslie Girvan, Service Number 7021405 was the Son of Mr and Mrs Arthur Girvan from Ballyardle, County Down. He was the Husband of Margaret J. Girvan of Lisnacree and was killed on 5th June 1944. He is buried in Mourne Presbyterian Churck, Kilkeel.
This rather large pillbox can be seen at the Ulsterbus station in the centre of Rathfriland. I believe it had the official designation FW3/28 and is better known as a Type 28 Pillbox being shellproof and designed to hold a 2pdr Anti-Tank Gun or 6pdr Hotchkiss gun.
Unfortunately it is not possible to gain access however the thickness of the walls show that it is shellproof and has a commanding view towards the Mountains of Mourne.
This is another well camouflaged Pillbox in Rathfriland.
This one is on Back Road. You can see in this picture that the loopholes through which firing would have taken place have been closed with red brick. (Google Picture)
Found in Rathfriland Area
This appears to be an Identification Plate from a British Truck - 'TRUCK 15-CWT4-WHLD, G.S.- BODY MARK IV VAUXHALL MOTORS LTD. 1939' The Contract Number is 1. 8957.' Also found was the United States 1 Cent which is shown below and is dated 1941. (Thanks very much to Alistair Henry)
The Grounds of Gilford Castle was used by both British and American Soldiers.
Both 582 Company and 583 Company of the Royal Engineers were at the Castle and were later joined by other Companies.
The U.S. Army arrived in 1943.
The eight photographs above show 584 Field Company, Royal Engineers training in Bridge Construction in the grounds of Gilford Castle.
The Bridge being constructed is a Hamilton Bridge. (Imperial War Museum Photographs)
Some evidence of the Camp can still be found in the Castle Grounds as shown above.
Turning small precision parts on a Watchmakers Lathe is Craftsman Wilcock from Leeds. Number 3 Non Division Workshops R.E.M.E. Gilford. (IWM Picture)
Lance Corporal Ingram and Craftsman Sweetland are shown working on a 6" Howitzer. Craftsmen Bellaw and Crook are shown in the Blacksmiths shop on the right at 3 Non Division Workshops, Gilford. (IWM Photographs)
Craftsman Cathcart welding in a workshop with power supplied by Lorry Engines. (IWM Pictures)
Putting an engine into a lorry on the left and putting an engine into a Universal Carrier on the right. (IWM Pictures)
Craftsman Hart in the Stores Lorry on the left. Above right and below is shows men winching a Carrier onto a lorry. 3 Non Division Workshops, Gilford (IWM Pictures)
This is an amazing relic of the dark days of the Second World War. Shown here are the gates of the entrance to Gilford Castle.
On looking closely at the pillar on the right of the first photograph you will see some strange markings which are shown in greater detail in the next picture.
This is a very tangible reminder of life in Northern Ireland during the Second World War as these are scrapes which were made by U.S. Soldiers who were sharpening their bayonets while on sentry duty!
Interestingly behind each pillar are steps as seen in my photograph above right.
As with many Bridges along the various Defence Lines in Northern Ireland the bridge in the centre of Gilford had Prepared Demolition Charges in the event of an Invasion so the the bridge could be destroyed at short notice.
Gilford's Telegraph Poles
Here are two interesting relics of the War in Gilford.
With the blackout it was important to ensure that any objects which could become a danger were highlighted as much as possible and here are two telegraph poles in Dunbarton Street which still retain their black and white markings.
With the huge influx of Military Personel into Northern Ireland during the Second World War space was at a premium and Camps would appear in some unlikely places.
British Soldiers from the Royal Army Ordnance Corps and Pioneer Corps were camped in the Mill Yard.
Ulster Home Guard, Moyallon
These are the men of Moyallon No. 11, B Company, 4th County Down Battalion Ulster Home Guard.
Back Row Left to right are:- Vols. J.Kennedy, T. McDonald, J.H. Toal, W. Irwin, R.M. Toal, J.A. Mitchell, Sgt. S. Conn.
3rd. Row; Vols. D.J. Neil, T. Patterson, W.E. Dickson, R.H. Fryars, Cpl. A. M’b Nickolson, L/Cpl. S. A. Payne, T.J. Abraham, W.R. W.R. Rainey.
2nd. Row: Sgt. H.C. Baxter, F. Irwin, J. Dunlop, S.J. Sterritt, E. Conn, Cpl. J.G. Toal, J. Adair, Sgt. H. McCracken.
Front Row L to R: Sgt. J. Morrow, P/Sgt. W.H. Jackson, Lt. C.R. R.J. Ferris (2/i/c B Coy.), Capt. W. Sands, (B Coy. Candr) 2nd. Lt. R.J. Hunter P/Cmdr), CSM, T.E. Toal, C.Q.M.S. J, Eccles, M.M., Sgt. G. Dickson.
Absent – Cpl. R.J. Uprichard, T.A. Collen, W. McCracken, E. Weir. (From www.portadownphotos.co.uk. Photograph from David Armstrong)
Russians at Moyallon House
Moyallon House shown above. Unfortunately it is at a different angle than the Home Guard picture above (Thanks to Harry Binkow)
Nicholas and Sana Couriss ran a Russian Language school in the Area which may have been attended by British spies to learn Russian.
Prince Lieven's House is shown above left with Alexei and Hilda Richardson seen in Egypt on the right.
Alexei (L) and his friend, Serge Aitov (R) are shown horse back riding behind Moyallon House. (Thanks very much to Harry Binkow for information and pictures)
The rather impressive looking pillbox shown above remains in excellent condition.
The inside is very similar in design to the pillbox at Gilford Road, Portadown and again, as in the case of the Portadown pillbox this is easily accessable at Cranny Road. - I believe the line of the River Bann was used for the construction of a Defence Line in the event that Northern Ireland was invaded by the Germans.
The second picture shows a second pillbox in the same area which is rather overgrown and difficult to find. On looking inside it is the same design as the first.
Scarva Pillbox Defences
The pictures here show three of the pillbox defences around the village of Scarva.
All appear to be a Type 23 and are shellproof with thick walls with a machinegun table at each port. The shutters have been centrally hinged but are now gone and there is also a small storage space.
This first example is at the northern entrance to the village with the second example shown here being at Fir Tree Lane.
It is interesting to see that on entering the pillbox there appears to have been some form of noticeboard on the left of the entrance passage.