The Second World War in Northern Ireland

The Second World War in Northern Ireland

County Down Part 3

Airfield Decoy Site, Kearney

I was very pleased to find this site with the help of a nearby resident who also gave me some useful information regarding this Decoy Site which was known as Q142.

The personel who worked here had rows of electric lighting laid out in the nearby fields to look like a runway and these were illuminated by a generator, the concrete base of which remains in the building shown here and for which the chimney was included in construction.

There is only one entrance into the building which can be seen in the large picture. The electric generator was in a room on the right with another room to the left to be used as quarters. With there being only one entrance there is a roof escape hatch in this room which is shown in the second picture.

Lookout Post at Ballyquinton

This is a Second World War Lookout Post which is at Ballyquinton Point.

It has an excellent view, as can be seen from my photographs, and commands the entrance to Strangford Lough as well as looking across the Irish Sea to the Isle of Man.

In great condition.

Airmen Buried in Ballyhalbert

Tucked away in the quiet country graveyard of Ballyhalbert Church of Ireland, Main Road, Ballyhalbert, lie 5 Commonwealth Airmen.

From left to right they are as follows :-

Sub-Lt. John Samuel Hornby, Royal New Zealand Naval Volunteer Reserve.

He was attached to 718 Fleet Air Arm Squadron and was killed in an air crash on 10th October 1945. 

Flying Supermarine Seafire NN631 he took off from R.A.F. Ballyhalbert on a Cross Country Exercise along with another Seafire however when over County Tyrone he got into difficulty.

An Eyewitness who was working in a Potato Field reported hearing two loud bangs in the air and on looking up he saw the aircraft, with smoke coming from it, spiralling downward and into the ground.

The aircraft was on fire and explosions were taking place. John Samuel Hornby was 21 years old.

The Crash Site was in the townland of Crockagarran to the Southeast of Carrickmore.

(See the three Documents shown below - Sorry for the poor quality)

Flight Sergeant Stanley Donald Wills, Number 400746, Royal Australian Air Force was only 20 years old when he was killed on 26th May 1942. He was flying a Beaufighter, X7573, on a night flying test when he lost control in cloud at 9000 feet over Ballymews and crashed into mountains. All three crew members were killed with Sergeant G.L.Edwards being buried at St Michaels in Harbledown in England and Sergeant R.W.Willis, the Observer / Radar Operator being buried nearby at St Josephs Roman Catholic church at Ballycranbeg.

Flight Sergeant John Robert Lucas of the Royal Canadian Air Force was attached to 153 Squadron, Royal Air Force when he was killed on 18th February 1942. He was 24 years old.

Sergeant Ross Wellesley Lindeman, number 403141, of the Royal Australian Air Force was 21 years old when he was killed in a flying accident on 25th January 1942 when flying a Defiant from Eglinton to Ballyhalbert. The accident occurred immediately after take-off from Eglinton when the aircraft turned steeply onto its back too low for the pilot to recover. The two Crew Members were killed with Air Gunner Sergeant R. Low being buried at Allenvale Cemetry in Aberdeen, Scotland.


Pilot Officer Frederick Hugh Anderson
of the Royal New Zealand Air Force was attached to 153 Squadron Royal Air Force when he was killed on 19th November 1941. He was 22 years old.

In the same graveyard and only a short walk away from the Airmen named above is the Headstone shown here.

At the bottom of the headstone is a reference to Lieutenant John Moir, Royal Navy who is recorded on the headstone as having Died at Sea on Active Service on 1st May 1942.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission gives his date of death as 30th April 1942 and shows that he was serving on H.M.S. Edinburgh.

HMS Edinburgh which was the flagship of Rear-Admiral Stuart Bonham Carter, commanding the escort of returning Convoy “QP 11” consisting of 17 ships which left Murmansk on 28 April 1942.

She was sighted by a German aircraft and on 30 April the German submarine U-456 commanded by Kapitänleutnant Max-Martin Teichert fired a torpedo into her starboard side causing Edinburgh to list however the swift action of the crew in closing watertight bulkheads prevented the ship from sinking immediately.

A second torpedo struck Edinburgh in the stern which incapacitated the ships steering and crippling her. She was taken in tow and an attempt was made to return to Murmansk accompanied by destroyers Foresight and Forester and four Mine Sweepers Gossamer, Harrier, Niger and Hussar. Along the way she was hounded constantly by German torpedo bombers.

On 2 May, as she progressed at a snail's pace under tow and her own power, she was attacked by three large German destroyers and cast off the tow causing her to sail in circles.

Although her guns were in disarray, she fired on the attacking German ships. Her second salvo straddled the German ship Hermann Schoemann, damaging her severely enough that her crew scuttled her and while Edinburgh’s escorts drove off two more German ships she was struck amidships by another torpedo so the crew abandoned ship.

About 840 men were rescued by other ships however Two officers and 56 other ranks were killed in the attacks.

Lt John Moir's body was never recovered and he is named on the Royal Naval Memorial at Plymouth.

Cloughey

On 28th January 1941 the Dutch steamer “Alhema” became stranded on the North Rock, off Cloughey while bound from Liverpool to Port Said in Egypt carrying supplies for the British Eighth Army however all the cargo was lost.


On 21st January 1942 Cloughey Lifeboat attended the Motor Coaster “Cairngorm” off Ballyquintin. The Cairngorm had fired distress flares which had been seen by H.M.S. Montbretia which was a Royal Navy corvette escorting a convoy from the Mersey northwards. – When H.M.S. Montbretia approached to investigate the flares fired by “Cairngorm” the convoy followed resulting in the corvette as well as 4 freighters from the Convoy all getting stuck on the rocks between Kearney Point and Ballyquintin Point. (I.W.M. Picture)

56 Air Sea Rescue Unit, R.A.F. Portaferry and Donaghadee

The plaques shown here sit proudly in the R.N.L.I. stations at Portaferry and Donaghadee.

They commemorates 56 Air Sea Rescue Unit of the Royal Air Force who were based at both locations for the duration of the Second World War.

There were other Air Sea Rescue Units based at Larne and on Lough Foyle.

The motto of these Units was "The Sea Shall Not Have Them"

In County Femanagh the large base at Castle Archdale was supported by a large Marine Craft Section which was equipped with Seaplane Tenders, Fire Floats, Refuellers, Bomb Scows, Servicing Tenders, Crew Tenders and General Service Pinnaces for mooring buoy maintenance etc.

More details on Castle Archdale can be found in the "County Fermanagh" Section of this website.

Another Marine Craft Section was based on Lough Neagh and details of this can be found in the "County Antrim" Section.

The property at 31 The Parade, Donaghadee was commandeered and used as Accommodation for the Air Sea Rescue Unit.


A number of other Properties in Donaghadee alco became billets including Boarding Houses in Shore Street which were used by Royal Engineers. 

The article above is from "The War Illustrated" and is dated December 1940. It provides some information regarding the R.A.F. Air Sea Rescue Boats. (The War Illustrated)

Greyabbey Shooting Range

During the war Military Personel who were based at Palace Barracks in Holywood were transported on occasions to Greyabbey where they took part in shooting drills at a range which was known as "The Long Shot"

The pictures above show what remains to be seen of the Butts at the Range which is on private property.

The Black and White photograph dates from 1929 and "The Long Shot" Range is in the bottom of the photograph running from left to right. (From Britain From Above)

While remaining in the Greyabbey area a visit to the local cemetery will find the grave of Flight Lieutenant Jim Filson Distinguished Flying Cross! - He was from Kircubbin and was a Spitfire Pilot who survived the war. His gravestone has the Royal Air Force crest.

Newtownards Anti-Landing Obstacles

This is what remains of an Anti-Landing Obstruction in the Northeast corner of Strangford Lough.

It was constructed here as the sandy foreshore was considered suitable for use as a glider landing area and so such a preventative measure was required.

For those of you interested in the technical stuff there are currently 27 posts set in 2 parallel rows with a further 4 in mid-intertidal zone. 

A few hundred metres to the southwest is another series.

Killynether House, Newtownards

Killynether House was a large building with considerable grounds which was requisitioned by the British Army during the war. The building was not released by the Ministry of Defence until 31st may 1949.

This was below the Scrabo Golf Club and although the building has now been demolished the concrete bases of some of the old Nissen Huts can be seen in Killynether Car Park as shown below.

Miles Aircraft Factory, Newtownards

This is the Building which was used by the Miles Aircraft Factory.

It is immediately beside Newtownards airfield at Comber Road, Newtownards.

*******I PASSED THE SITE OF THIS AIRCRAFT FACTORY TODAY AND SADLY IT HAS NOW BEEN DEMOLISHED********

Comber Square

An interesting note about the involvement of Comber during the Second World War was that following the First World War the town was presented with a captured German Field Gun as a memorial to the actions of De Wind who was from the town and won the Victoria Cross during WW1. It appears that there was no room for sentiment during the Second World War as this gun was cut up and smelted down to help with the war effort!!

This picture shows the German Field Gun full size before it was dismantled. For more information visit http://www.comberhistory.com

Below is the Tablet  from the German First World War Gun which stood in Comber Square to mark the winning of a Victoria Cross by Edmund De Wind.

Comber Old Mill

The old mill, which is now a desirable appartment block, was used as Military Billits for both British and American personnel. One of the Units who were based here were the Staffordshire Regiment.

The black and white photograph shows the Mill as it looked in 1929. (From Britain From Above)

Comber Air Raid Shelter

Shown here is an Air Raid Shelter which stands between Castle Street and Castle Lane in Comber.

Unfortunately is shows considerable damage.

Comber Civil Defence and Home Guard

This first photograph shows members of Comber Civil Defence with the Ulster Home Guard who operated in Comber being shown below. (From Comber Historical Society)

The (IWM) Photograph below shows Soldiers training in the use of an Anti-Aircraft Gun in the Comber Area.

Do you have any information about such training?? If so then Please contact me at the E-Mail address below.

Dundonald Cemetery

I went to Dundonald Cemetery at Upper Newtownards Road, Dundonald to look for the grave of Fusilier Graham of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers who had been killed in the German Air raid on the Airfield in Newtownards.

What I had thought would be a brief visit soon turned into a lengthy stay as I must admit I was quite shocked as to the number of headstones with direct reference to sacrifices made by the people of Northern Ireland during the Second World War.

These are just a few:-

This is the Headstone of Flying Officer John Thomas Brown who was serving with 97 Squadron, Royal Air Force.

He was the Navigator in Lancaster Bomber JB243 and was returning from Pathfinder Operations over Berlin.

Sadly his is aircraft crashed at approximately 01.20 on 17th December 1943 at Graveley Airfield with the loss of all on board.

It is interesting to note that the family had such pride in their loss that they included a little information at the bottom of the headstone saying "Killed on Pathfinder Duty. His plane crashed in fog returning from Berlin"


Sadly Accidents and Crashes took their toll with a large number of Airmen and Women losing their lives in such circumstances as was the case with Flight Sergeant Engineer James Titterington who was with 1658 Royal Air Force Conversion Unit when the Handley-Page Halifax Bomber Mk2 JB962 which he was in crashed at Sliptone Crags, Colsterdale, North Yorkshire with the loss of all on board.


Flying Officer Sydney Colbert DFC was a member of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

His Lancaster III Bomber JA975 took off at 16.49 on 14th January 1944 on a bombing raid to Braunschweig/Brunswick in Germany.

He was shot down by a combination of Night Fighters and Flak crashing at Bockern where burials were reported to have taken place on 17th January.

He was awarded a Posthumous Distinguished Flying Cross. Six of the crew members are now buried in the Commonwealth Cemetery at Sage near Oldenburg.


Robert Belshaw of 56 Shankill Road recorded in 7th List 18.00 hours on 19th April 1941 of those killed during the Belfast Blitz.

The headstone on the left records that Robert C Boyle, Chief Steward in the Merchant Navy was "Killed by Enemy Action 26th January 1942" while Chambers, who was an Engineer in the Merchant Navy was lost at sea in the same year.

Lester Currie had been a Pilot Officer in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve when he was killed on active service on 23rd July 1942. He was the pilot of Whirlwind P7035 when he was involved in a skirmish with 2 German aircraft and lost off Morlaix in Northwestern France.


Robert Farrell had also been killed on active service when he went down with H.M.S. Royal Oak in Scapa Flow after it was torpedoed by a German U-Boat. -

(On 14 October 1939 H.M.S. Royal Oak was anchored at Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, when she was attacked by the German submarineU-47 and hit by 4 torpedoes. See Below for more details.

Of Royal Oak's complement of 1,234 men and boys, 833 were killed and only 26 bodies were recovered which are now buried in Lyness Military Cemetry on the Island of Hoy. 

Now lying almost upside down in 100 feet (30 m) of water with her hull 16 feet (5 m) beneath the surface, Royal Oak is a designated war grave and during an annual ceremony Royal Navy divers place a White Ensign underwater at her stern.)


(I am very pleased to be able to include these photographs of Lester Currie, who was known in the R.A.F. as "Paddy" along with newspaper cuttings and article which were passed to me by his Nephew Mike Currie.)

The headstone above is particularly sad as it records the deaths of 2 civilians "Both killed by enemy action 16th April 1941"

Charles Ferguson and Amy were recorded by the Belfast Civil Defence Authority as being from 18 Ohio Street and both bodies were retained at the Union Mortuary. - Two victims of the Belfast Blitz.

The Denby Family -William (Father), Harriett (Mother), Isa (Daughter), Dorothy (Daughter) and Dorothy Kathleen Burdett (Granddaughter).

This Family of 5 were all killed at 20 Evelyn Gardens in the Tigers Bay Area of Belfast during an Air raid.

The Rogers family, Daniel (Father), Mary (Mother) and Daniel Jnr. (Son) were killed at 1 Haton Drive , Belfast during an Air Raid.

These are only a few examples of the many headstones at this Cemetery which illustrate the commitment of the people of Northern Ireland to the Allied Cause.

Pilot Officer Robert Love McKinney was serving with 58 Squadron, R.A.F.

He was along with Flying Officer Lawrence Barclay Davey when they took off from Stornoway in Halifax Bomber JP336 on 23 April 1945 at 20:15. 

At midnight the crew spotted a German convoy from Norway and sustained considerable damage by flak during its first attack resulting in the Pilot attempting to reach land however this proved impossible and the Halifax crached into the sea northeast of Gjerrild in Djursland where it floated, burning, for half an hour. 

As Flying Officer Davey was escaping the aircraft he heard Co-Pilot F/Sgt Thomas Ernest Parker Rosenthal shouting for help so crawled into the wreck and assisted Rosenthal to escape.

Wireless Operators F/O John Vilhjalmur Johnson and Sgt Gerard Anthony Guinane got free of the aircraft, inflated their dinghy and rowed around to find the other 5 crew members without success.

Pilot Officer McKinney and Sergeant Cockroft have no known graves. 

Leading Aircraftman David Stanley Beattie was 19 years old and serving with the Royal Air Force in the United States of America when he was Killed on 21st May 1942. 

He is remembered on this family Headstone in Dundonald Cemetery.

Private Thomas Newell was from Newtownards and serving with 1st Battalion The Worcester Regiment when he was Killed in Action at Tobruk in Libya.

He is buried in Knightsbridge Cemetery, Acroma, Libya.

Sergeant Pilot John Nicholl was 25 years old and serving with 144 Squadron based at R.A.F. Hemswell.

On the night of 11th July 1941 he was part of the crew of Handley Page Hampden I AE119 which took-off from Hemswell on a mission to Wilhelmshaven.

During the return flight the aircraft crashed into high ground after breaking cloud Northeast of Hull, Yorkshire.

Of the crew two were injured and one uninjured whilst Sergeant Nicholl died from his injuries on 13th July 1941.

(Photograph and information from www.aircrewremembrancesociety.co.uk)

Sergeant Observer Charles A. McNabb was Killed on Active Service on 24th June 1942 and was buried in Gwelo, South Rhodesia 

Sergeant Pilot David Kimberley Lovesy was 20 years old and serving with 150 Squadron. He is names on the Malta War Memorial in Valetta which can be seen in the Foreign Fields section of this website.

Sergeant Charles Hamilton was serving with 100 Squadron, Royal Air Force when he was Killed in Action on 3rd September 1943.

Gordon Thackwray Allison was serving as First Radio Officer aboard the Cargo Ship M.V. King Lud which was sailing from New York to Bombay with a Cargo of Government stores as well as transporting military personnel. The ship was torpedoed and sunk by the Japanese submarine I-10 in the Mozambique Channel 350 miles east of Beira with the loss of all on board. (Picture from Shipsnostalgia.com)

Private Frank Jobes had been married to Annie Elizabeth Jobes of Toronto, Ontario. He was serving with 48th Highlanders of Canada and was Killed in Action on 21st December 1943 during the Battle of Ortona in Italy.

Leading Aircraftman Robert Stanley Hegan was serving with 502 Squadron Royal Air Force.

On 6th January 1943 he was at R.A.F. St Eval and in a truck along with two other Leading Aircraftmen when it was struck by Whitley VII Z9379 killing all three. (IWM)

Flight Lieutenant Bannister took off from RAF Nutts Corner at 0450 hours on an anti-submarine patrol in Liberator I AM925 X of 120 Squadron, Coastal Command.

The aircraft failed to gain height, struck a radio mast situated in a field at the end of the east west runway leaving the tail behind, the remainder of the aircraft careered across three small fields and came to rest almost opposite the airfield communal site on the Belfast road. The Liberator caught fire and exploded.
The Crew were Flying Officer B S. Bannister DFC . Captain. Who was reported as being Injured. Sergeant W J. Wilson. Second pilot. Injured.
Pilot Officer W M. Densham. Navigator. Fatally injured. P/O. - Densham died on 20 February at No.31 General Hospital, Belfast.
Flying Officer H. Wakefield DFC. Navigator Injured.
Sergeant P. Welford. Navigator Killed.
Pilot Officer P G. Fuller. Wireless Operator / Air Gunner. Killed.
Sergeant A A. Middleton. Wireless Operator / Air Gunner. Killed.
Sergeant H. Mines. Wireless Operator / Air Gunner. Injured.
Sergeant J F. Waite. Wireless Operator / Air Gunner. Injured. - Sergeant J F. Waite was awarded the George Medal for his actions in rescuing Pilot Officer Densham from the blazing aircraft.!
It appears that Flight Lieutenant Bannister succumbed to his injuries. (Information from ww2talk.com)

Holywood War Memorial

The surroundings of the War Memorial in Holywood used to look considerable different to how the same scene looks today.
Construction of the War Memorial was finished on 28th January 1922 and was formally Dedicated in 1st July 1923 being the Anniversary of the opening day of the Battle of The Somme.
With the need for metal during the Second World War the railings which surrounded the Memorial along with both  German Field Cannons were removed and smelted down to assist the War Effort. (Thanks very much to Robin Masefield)

Redburn House, Holywood.

Redburn House had once been a very grand estate owned by the Dunville Whiskey family.

During the Second World War it was acquired by the Air Ministry and used as accommodation for Womens Royal Air Force personnel.

I believe there was also a Military Hospital at this site. - The old house has now been demolished and an Old Peoples Home built on the site however, as my pictures show, the old stable block remains and is worth a look. Be advised that if you venture into the Country Park there is some very steep climbing!

R.A.F. in Holywood

The Royal Air Force had 55 Maintenance Unit Equipment Park based at what they referred to as Ballymenoch House, Holywood between October 1940 and September 1943.

The original Ballymenoch House had been destroyed by fire in 1913 and the replacement Eventide House, which is shown here, was built as a replacement in a slightly different location.

This old Building stands behind what is now known as Sir Samuel Kelly Memorial Home.

Ballymenoch Park, Holywood

Some interesting items have been found in Ballymenoch Park.

The items shown here may relate to the Military usage of Ballymenoch Park. Firstly there is a Royal Air Force Button. Then there is a complete military Belt Buckle and on the right is a whistle. Interestingly it is a British made Acme Thunderer whictle which has an American 5 Cents on each side.

(Thanks very much to Norman and Michael for these pictures and information)

R.A.F. Bomber in Holywood Town Centre

The first photograph shows a Royal Air Force Bristol Bombay Bomber.

The Pilot had made a forced landing at Clandeboye and this picture was taken on 21st March 1942 showing the aircraft, which has been partly dismantled, at the junction of Church Road and High Street as it was being taken for examination and repair.

My photograph shows the same location today. (I.W.M. Picture)

Kinnegar Base Depot, Holywood.

Kinnegar, which can be seen between the Belfast to Bangor rail line and the North Down coastline, was an Army Ordnance Depot during the war. - In 1942 it was home to a detachment of 109th Quartermaster Battalion (Service Company) as well as 314th Quartermaster Motor Transport Supply Depot of the United States Army.

There was also an Anti-Aircraft Battery on site.

In the old map on the left you can see Kinnegar on the left side of the railway line with Palace Barracks, Holywood on the right.

Note that there are three Shooting Ranges marked as being at Kinnegar with all of the targets being in the area of where the Water Treatment Plant now stands.

(Thanks very much to Charles Griffiths)

The photograph above shows John (Jack) Chambers of the Ulster Home Guard.

This photograph is believed to have been taken at Kinnegar in 1943. (Many thanks to Richard Chambers for this photograph of his Dad)


Palace Barracks, Holywood.

Here is a photograph of Palace Barracks as seen from the southeast with some of the old barrack blocks visible near the green topped clock tower.

Palace Barracks was home to Number 2 Young Soldiers Training Centre of the General Service Corps which had its name later changed to Number 28 Training Battalion.

During the war there were 10 large Barrack Blocks in which each room held 30 men. Only a few of these blocks remain and are clearly visible from aircraft using Belfast City Airport.

There was also a Prisoner of War Camp on the opposite side of Jackson Road where the Loughview Housing Estate now stands.

In 1942 it was known by U.S. Personnel as Disciplinary Training Centre Number 1 however in 1944 it became Disciplinary Training Centre Number 5.

Other United States Army Units based there were Company A 301st Quartermaster Battalion (Sterilization) (5 Corps) as well as 209th Coast Artillery (Antiaircraft) and in May to November 1942 79th Ordnance Companyy (Depot) (5 Corps)

Another view of Palace Barracks with the Clock Tower left of centre. This is taken from the front of the Barracks.

Holywood Cemetery

Frank Mason was serving with 9th Battalion The Gloucestershire Regiment when he died on 9th February 1941.

Archibald Joseph Adolphus Holt was a Private in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps when he lost his life on 5th May 1941.

William Fox was a Fusilier in the 70th (Young Soldiers) Battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers when he died on 16th June 1941.

Sergeant Alexander L. Quillan died on 4th June 1943 and Private Alfred Hayes, who was serving with 6th (Home Defence) Battalion, Royal Ulster Rifles lost his like on 6th February 1940.

Sergeant Pilot John Cecil Brandon Irwin was born on 13th October 1919 and was the Son of George and Lucinda Irwin from Craigavad, County Down.

 

He joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, Service Number 951459, on 1st May 1939 and was called up for Active Service on 22nd June 1940 as Aircraftman Second Class before being promoted to Leading Aircraftman and then Sergeant Pilot serving with 57 Squadron.

On 3rd July 1941 Sergeant Irwin was the Pilot of Vickers Wellington 1C R1589 which took off from R.A.F. Feltwell on a Mission to bomb the Airfield at Gilze Rijen which is between Breda and Tilburg in Holland.

It is believed that this was Sergeant Irwin's first Operation as Captain and all of the other Crew Members had only arrived at Feltwell the previous month from Number 12 Operational Training Unit.

Weather was recorded as being "Cloudy with some rain" as the aircraft joined thirteen others in departing on their mission at 23.30hrs and whilst all the others headed for Essen Sergeant Irwin set a course for Holland.

Having lost contact with R.A.F. Feltwell the aircraft crashed at 00.13 on 4th July 1941 just five miles from the airfield.

Of the crew of 6 only the Rear Gunner, Sergeant W.J. Poulton survived although seriously injured.

The Accident Report stated that the Pilot may have had Air Speed Indicator difficulties.

The Bomb Load had been:- 2 x Small Bomb Containers, 6 x 500Lbs Bombs and 1 x 250 Lbs Bomb.

 

Flight Lieutenant William Thomas Irwin was serving with Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

He was Pilot of Halifax II HR728 LX-D from 51 Squadron which had taken off from R.A.F. Snaith at 18.10hrs on 3rd October 1943 on a mission to Kassel in Central Germany.

The aircraft later crashed at Wietersheim to the west of Hanover with the loss of all on board.

(Thanks to Information from Northernbankwarmemorials.blogspot.com and wisbechstandard.co.uk. Thanks to Mike Scott and Tony Osborne)

Groomsport House.

515 Field Survey Company, Royal Engineers were formed in Aldershot in January 1940.

On 2nd July 1940 the Unit received orders to move to Northern Ireland and were subsequently based at Sunningdale Camp in Belfast.

On 1st August 1940 they moved to Groomsport House which is shown here.

While at Groomsport the Unit carried out a range survey of nearby Orlock and between 10th and 19th of April 1942 had a survey exercise in Omagh.

August 1942 saw them busy with surveys of Coastal Defence Batteries as well as drawing Lough Erne and the Following February they surveyed for Anti-Aircraft batteries in Larne and again at Orlock before moving to Surrey in June 1943.


Portavoe House, Donaghadee.

Portavoe House was used as a base by the United States Army "Field Force Replacement Depot 8, Casual Detachment 41".

Old Royal Ulster Constabulary Station, Donaghadee

This is an Air Raid Shelter which was built at the rear left side (When Looking towards the building from the road) of the old Royal Ulster Constabulary Station in Donaghadee.

The other pictures show the small front wall of the Station and you can see where a metal railing has been removed during the WW2 campaign to collect metal for use in the War Effort.

Rosebank House, Donaghadee

As with most of Northern Ireland the town of Donaghadee had its part to play during the war.

As well as 57 Air Sea Rescue Unit of the Royal Air Force which was based at the Harbour there were British Army personel billeted in the old Orange Hall.

The building shown here is known as Rosebank House and was commandeered for military use.

My research shows that Rosebank was used by Detachment E, 162d Signal Photographic Company of the United States Army.

Other United States Military Units in Donaghadee were 436th Medical Collecting Company of 15 Corps as well as this being the Companies Headquarters.

United States Navy "The Lone Sailor" Bangor

This is a miniature replica statue of the larger version which is found in the United States.

The top line says "Our Home Away From Home" and this was presented by Admiral James F. Miller of the United States Navy to Alderman Brian Wilson who was Mayor of North Down on the 50th Anniversary of D-Day in 1994.

This is now housed in an iluminated glass case at North Down Museum in Bangor


1st Armored Division, United States Army in Spa

The plaque shown here is on display in the Masonic Hall in Spa Village.

It refers to Company D, 81st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Armored Division, United States Army who were based within the Masonic Hall as well as the surrounding area prior to embarking on Campaigns in both North Africa and Italy.

The plaque was unveiled by Veteran Laurel E. Anderson who served with the Unit.

(Thanks very much to Barry Brewster for providing information and photograph.)

Shown on the right is the Distinctive Unit Insignia of 81st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Armored Division with the motto "Firm and Watchful"


Drumbeg Church.

Sergeant Frederick George Thomas McGahey was 19 years old when he died on 9th July 1941.

He had been with 53 Operational Training Unit and was flying Spitfire Mk. 1 P9383 from R.A.F. Llandow when he crashed at Colwinston, Glamorgan.

Sergeant Pilot Frederick Samuel Diplock was in Oxford R6379 on a Night Exercise at Leaconfield Airfield when the aircraft made a sharp turn and then dived approximately 200 feet into the ground.

Flying Officer Andrew Victor Sproule Wilson was with 41 Operational Training Unit on 14th February 1942 when he was flying North American Mustang AG400

Whilst heading for R.A.F. Hawarden he crashed into Flintshire's highest hill - Moel Famau.

George Balfour Sydney Jackson was an Acting / Leading Airman with the Fleet Air Arm FAA / FX80569 Daedalus and was on passage on board the Almera star Steamship when it was torpedoed and sunk by U-96 in the North Atlantic.

Fusilier Samuel Lucas was serving with 2nd Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers when he was killed in Action on 18th January 1944 at Monte Casino, Italy.

He was laid to rest in Minturno Cemetery, Italy.

Sergeant Pilot Walter F Rusk was in a Hart Special K4368 with Number 7 Flight Training School when the aircraft flew into the ground at Tilton on the Hill, Leicestershire.

Sergeant Pilot Maurice Patrick Rusk was flying Spitfire Mk Vb, Serial Number BL408 of 222 (Natal) Squadron, Royal Air Force when it crashed during an Air Test at R.A.F. North Weald on 27th January 1942.

George Robinson was serving with the Merchant Navy when he was Killed at Sea on 22nd January 1941.

His Son George R. was also serving with the Merchant Navy when he was Lost at Sea on 2nd December 1940.

The Headstone on  the left is that of Flying Officer Arthur Peter Buckley Holmes who was serving with 502 Squadron R.A.F. based at Aldergrove.

At 12.22 on 23rd January 1941 he was Navigator aboard Armstrong Whitworth Whitley aircraft P5041, YG-C which took off from R.A.F. Aldergrove to provide Escort for Convoy HG50. 

The Convoy had left Gibraltar and was heading for Liverpool.

After escorting the Convoy for over three house it was time to return to base however with poor weather conditions the aircraft became lost and flew into high ground near  Balmavicar which is Northwest of Beinn na Lice on the Mull of Kintyre.

The Pilot of this aircraft was Flight Lieutenant Philip Leslie Billing who was buried in St Aiden's Church of Ireland Churchyard, Glenavy and his Headstone can also be seen on this website.

Ian Fraser was a very highly regarded Surgeon who served in the Royal Army Medical Corps throughout the Second World War.

Having been appointed Lieutenant-Colonel he was in charge of the Surgical Division of the 37th General Hospital, running a 1000-bed hospital at Accra, on the Gold Coast.

Promoted to full Colonel in 1942 he was a Consulting Surgeon to the West Africa Command.

In 1943 he set up a research team to study of the effects of penicillin on trauma cases in the battlefield and travelled to the North African and later Italian theatres of war where he frequently performed operations just behind the front lines. On one occasion he did this for 48 hours without a break. 

He was involved in landings at Cape Passero and Catania in Sicily, and Reggio di Calabria and Salerno in Italy.

In January 1944, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for "gallant, fearless and devoted action" during the Sicily landings and the development of "a new technique employed for the first time in forward surgery" which had "established a new and most valuable wound treatment". 

In March 1944 he was acting Consultant Surgeon to Eastern Command in preparation for the Normandy invasion of June 1944, in which he took part, landing at Arromanches two days after D-Day, and setting up advance surgical stations of the 108th General Hospital at Bayeux. 

In October 1944 he was appointed consultant surgeon to Central Command, Agra, India, and promoted Brigadier.

The Sir Ian Fraser Theatre at the Royal Victoria Hospital was named for him in 1982. His portrait by Carol Graham is on display in the Great Hall, Queen's University, Belfast.

Bannbridge

Edenderry House - Which is now part of Banbridge Academy was used for billets by military personel with one of the first units who arrived there being the Liverpool Scottish.

There were a number of nissen huts in the grounds until some years ago when they were removed and the land converted to playing fields.

The "Moorlands" House on Castlewellan Road was also used as a Military base and had nissen huts.

The nearby Chinauley House was, for a time, Headquarters for the Kings Own Rifles and training took place in the fields on the opposite side of the road.

Various concrete paths and basses for Huts can be seen as well as the 12 cubicle Toilet Block shown here.

A pontoon bridge was constructed to cross the river, which was also part of an Assault Course while shooting practice took place in the same area.

This is what was known as "The Nut Bank" where shooting took place.

General Patton in Mourne Mountains

This photograph shows General Patton speaking with soldiers of 10th Infantry Regiment, U.S. Army in the Mourne Mountains on 30th March 1944.

(Pictures from Histomil website)

Two photographs Patton's rousing speeches in Northern Ireland during 1944.

(From http://demons.swallowthesky.org and  Americanww2.com)

Aircraft Crash Sites in Mourne Mountains

Slieve Commedagh

Vickers Wellington Mk.1c X9820 from 105 (Transport) Operational Training Unit, R.A.F. can be found at Grid Reference 434 286.

Flight Sergeant J. S. Price (Royal New Zealand Air Force) was Pilot

Sergeant H. T. A. Walters Navigator

Sergeant T. Brewin Wireless Operator / Air Gunner

Having taken off from R.A.F. Bramcote, Warwickshire on 12th September 1943 the Crew were involved in a Navigation Exercise when they were flying in cloud and struck the mountain.

The Impact point can be seen by a scar on a grassy slope on the northern side of the Mourne Wall with a scattering of wreckage.

There were no survivors.

De Havilland Mosquito NS966 from 60 Operational Training Unit R.A.F. crashed on 12th / 13th January 1945 at Grid Reference 345 281.

Flight Lieutenant Robert MacKENZIE R.A.F.V.R. was Pilot
Flying Officer John Gordon FARAGHER R.A.F.V.R. was Navigator

They had taken off from R.A.F. High Ercall and were on a Training Flight at Night when they crashed into the mountain.

Some wreckage can be seen at The Castles.

Thomas’s Mountain

Vickers Wellington Mk.3 X3599 of 57 Squadron R.A.F. crashed at Grid Reference 363 293 on 16th March 1942.

The aircraft had taken off from R.A.F. Feltwell, Norfolk to travel to R.A.F. Aldergrove during a Cross Country Training flight.

Flying Officer H.E.Hunter was Pilot

Flying Officer J.W. Elliott was Observer

Sergeant W.S. Taylor Wireless Operator / Air Gunner

Assistant Section Officer W.A.A.F. Barbara Blakiston-Houston was a Passenger

Sergeant Henderson was a Passenger and the only survivor of this crash.

The aircraft flew into the ground in poor visibility and burst into flames.

Pieces of melted aluminium can be seen among gravel at the crash site.

Assistant Section Officer W.A.A.F. Barbara Blakiston-Houston is buried in the Church of Ireland Church in Seaforde.

Chimney Rock Mountain

B26 Marauder 41-18150 from United States Army Air Force Number 3 Combat Crew Replacement Centre took off from Toome Airfield on 10th April 1944.

2nd Lieutenant Howell C. Osborne Jr was Pilot

2nd Lieutenant Chester M. Turner was Co-Pilot

Staff Sergeant Roy R. Cappe Jr was Aerial Engineer

Staff Sergeant William J. Devenney was Radio Operator

Sergeant Jimmie Gyovai was Engineer / Gunner

The Crew were taking part in a Gunnery Training Mission however after having entered some cloud the aircraft crashed killing all on board.

The Crash Site is on the Southwestern side of Chimney Rock Mountain just below the summit.

Wreckage can be found at Grid Reference is 362 255.

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St Nicholas Church, Ardglass

This is one of many graveyards all over Northern Ireland which holds the bodies of young men and women who gave their lives during the war.

There are three graves beside each other here with the one illustrated being that of:-

Flight Sergeant Pilot John Sherlock Price, Royal New Zealand Air Force. He was the Son of John Frederick Allan and Ruth Sherlock Price from Invercargill, New Zealand. Flight Sergeant Price was 30 years old when he was killed on 12th September 1943 whilst with 105 Operational Training Unit.

Beside him are:-

George William Thomas Walker, Sergeant / Air Gunner. Royal Air Force. He was the Son of Walter William and Elizabeth Walker from Weasenham, Norfolk. Sergeant Walker was killed on 20th August 1944 when the Avro Anson 1 aircraft LT658 of 12 A.G.S. in which he was flying crashed between Cloughey and Portaferry killing all 5 Crew on board. Their bodies were initially brought to R.A.F. Ballyhalbert before being transferred to R.A.F. Ballyhalbert on 21st August 1944.

Harold Victor Ames, Flight Sergeant / Wireless Operator Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. He was the Son of Walter and kate Ames and was killed on 29th December 1944 when Anson 1 aircraft LT 431 of Number 7 A.O.S. struck a tree and crashed near Crossgar whilst on a low flying exercise.

Gilford

The village of Gilford has a rich Second World War history.

Here are pictures of one of the two pillboxes which overlook the Canal and Railway bridges at Madden near Gilford. This area was part of one of the Major Defence Lines within Northern Ireland with one being on either side of the roadway covering the bridges.

The internal design of these pillboxes is identical to many others in the area.

This example is in excellent condition and retains the metal shutters which would have covered the loopholes through which light machine-guns would have been used if invasion had taken place.

A Prisoner Of War Camp was operated at Portadown Road in Gilford and Soldiers from the Belgian 5th Infantry Brigade had their Headquarters based at Stramore House. - All of the huts which had stood in the area of Stramore House have been removed and I was very pleased to learn that the one shown above had been used by the soldiers before evolving into its present role. A second hut can be found nearby which has also found a new role and it is pleasing to see that such things remain.

Also being put to good use is the rather large concrete Water Butt shown above which can be seen in a field opposite 85 Stramore Road. This was built by R.E.M.E. soldiers of the British Army to supply water to their camp.

Shown on the right is an underground Airraid Shelter which is in the grounds of Dunbarton House. Inside the shelter is rather large and I have included a picture of one of the chains which were used to hold bunk beds! There was ventilation, electricity and a wooden ceiling. Impressive stuff but there is an even bigger surprise when you consider the Squash Court which was built by Military personel which is shown below.

The house has a very interesting military history because as well as its use during the Second World War it performed the role of an Ulster Volunteer Force Military Hospital during the First World War for which the owners received a Certificate of Thanks signed by Winston Churchill!

The underground shelter was built by the men of 297 Company Royal Engineers who were also responsible for a Swimming Pool in the garden of the house which has now gone.

The Royal Engineers had been based in the grounds of Gilford Castle which is nearby.

Bannvale House which is on the Portadown Road and presently a Social Education Centre had also been a Royal Army Service Corps Camp.

As previously mentioned - Gilford has a rich military history!!