The Second World War in Northern Ireland

The Second World War in Northern Ireland

Greater Belfast Part 2

Red Cross and St Johns Ambulance Inspection, Queens Quay

This selection of photographs was taken at Queens Quay, Belfast during an Inspection of Red Cross and St Johns on 1st March 1938.

They were taken by Bonar Holmes. (Thanks very much to Bonar Holmes)

James Magennis Plaque

Blue Plaque erected by Submariners Association.

This plaque can be seen on the front of the Royal Naval Association building in Great Victoria Street and refers to Leading Seaman James Magennis from Belfast who won the Victoria Cross - The highest military honour during the Second World War.

James Magennis was born on 27th October 1919 in Belfast and lived at 4 Majorca Street (Which has now gone due to redevelopment). He enlisted in the Royal Navy as a boy and after serving on surface ships he was moved to submarines before volunteering for Special Duties in 1943.

He won his Victoria Cross through his actions against the Japanese in Singapore and the Citation for the Award is shown here:-

The King has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the Victoria Cross for valour to Temporary Acting Leading Seaman James Joseph Magennis, D/KX144907. Leading Seaman Magennis served as diver in His Majesty's Midget Submarine XE3 for her attack on 31 July 1945 on a Japanese cruiser of the Atago class. Because XE3 was tightly jammed under the target the diver's hatch could not be fully opened, and Magennis had to squeeze himself through the narrow space available. He experienced great difficulty in placing the limpets on the bottom of the cruiser owing both to the foul state of the cruisers bottom and to the prominent slope upon which the limpets would not hold. Before a limpet could be placed therefore Magennis had thoroughly to scrape the area clean of barnacles, and in order to secure the limpets he had to tie them in pairs by a line passing under the cruisers keel. This was very tiring work for a diver, and he was moreover handicapped by a steady leakage of oxygen which was ascending in bubbles to the surface. A lesser man would have been content to place a few limpets and then to return to the craft. Magennis, however, persisted until he had placed his full outfit before returning to the craft in an exhausted condition.

Shortly after withdrawing Lt. Fraser endeavoured to jettison his limpet carriers, but one of these would not release itself and fall clear of the craft. Despite his exhaustion, his oxygen leak and the fact that there was every probability of his being sighted, Magennis at once volunteered to leave the craft and free the carrier rather than allow a less experienced diver to undertake the job. After seven minutes of nerve racking work he succeeded in releasing the mine carrier. Magennis displayed very great courage and devotion to duty and complete disregard for his own safety.

The photograph on the left is his Certificate for "Crossing The Line" (Crossing the Equator) 

Shown above is a Limpet Mine as used by Magennis with an operating diagram on the right. (Military illustration)

The photograph on the left shows a mural of James Magennis V.C. on Kings Road, Belfast and above is the Right Honorable Lord Mayor Sir Crawford McCullough presenting Seaman Magennis V.C. with £3000 which was raised through a "Shilling Fund" by the Citizens of Belfast.

This telescope was taken from the Imperial Japanese Navy Ship Takao which was sunk by Magennis.

On the left is the telegram sent to James Magennis by Basil Brook and on the right is a Letter sent to his Mother by The Admiralty regarding his actions and winning of the Victoria Cross.

Shown below is the Memorial to James Magennis V.C. which can be seen at the front of Belfast city Hall.

The above article comes from "The War Illustrated" 

General Eisenhower in the Grand Opera House

With the end of the war General Dwight D. Eisenhower attended a "Special Victory Performance" in the Grand Opera House, Belfast - Just a short walk along Great Victoria Street from the Royal Naval Association premises shown above.

Among those present was Elizabeth McKeown who was sitting behind the General and asked him to sign her programme which is shown here.

(Thanks very much to Andy Jaffrey. *****PLEASE DO NOT COPY*****)

American Forces arrive in Northern Ireland

Private Milburn Henke, who was described as the 'first' United States soldier to step ashore, salutes as he lands at Dufferin Quay, Belfast however this was not actually true as a considerable number of his fellow nationals had arrived before him. More information and pictures of Milburn Henke can be seen on this website. (From

Photographed on 21st February 1942 this shows an Anti-Aircraft Machine Gun Crew aboard one of the American Expeditionary Force Transport Ships. (US Army Signal Corps)

Cramped conditions for American Soldiers on board Ship as they make their way to Northern Ireland. (Acme picture)

Cramped Conditions for all those making the Atlantic Crossing (Thanks to Seamus Breslin)

Shown here are Ships arriving at Dufferin Dock in Belfast on 26th January 1942 loaded with American Troops (IWM Pictures)

Major General Russell P. Hartle coming ashore in Belfast and seen directly above with Major General E. Chaney. (IWM Photograph)

U.S. Army arriving in Belfast January 1942 (Getty images)

Sir Archibald Sinclair speaking with American Troops as they arrive in Belfast on 26th January 1942 (IWM Picture)

V Corps American Troops arriving in Belfast in January 1942. (Picture from and Getty Images) A friendly welcome greets them including Belfast Dock Workers giving Churchill's "V" For Victory sign. (From "Home away From Home" Book)

American Soldier gives cigarette to Royal Navy Seaman on their arrival in Belfast in March 1942. (Planet News photograph)

Army Nurses and Soldiers of the American Expeditionary Force are shown on one of the Transports bringing them across the Atlantic on 23rd February 1942 

(International News photo)

American Troops arriving in Belfast on 2nd March 1942. (Imperial War Museum Photographs)

Major General Russel P. Hartle greets Colonel Folsom Everest (Imperial War Museum Photographs)

This is Master Sergeant Dorrance Mann arriving in Belfast on 2nd March 1942.

It is very pleasing to say that he survived the war and passed away when he was 83 years old on 4th December 1940.
Dorrance Mann was laid to rest in Walnut Hill Cemetery, Council Bluffs, Pottawattamie County, Iowa, USA
(IWM Photograph)

American soldiers arrive in Belfast on 12th March 1942 (ACME picture)

Sergeant Galen Quinn arrived with a Broken Ankle. (Newspaper article thanks to Seamus Breslin)

This Convoy of American Soldiers shown below arrived safely in Belfast on 18th May 1942 to be welcomed by Major General Hartle who had arrived with Major General Chaney as shown above.

(Above photograph from

American Nurses are among those who make the voyage across the Atlantic. (Pictures from I.W.M. and on right from )

American Soldiers being greeted by British Soldiers on their arrival in Belfast on 9th February 1942 (Ebay picture)

Newly arrived Soldiers on 18th July 1942 receive food in Belfast.

Soldiers marching from Belfast Docks on the right and below (Getty images)

(Photograph from

The first picture is from War Illustrated Magazine and shows that "Old Glory Flies in Ireland" as soldiers arrive in Belfast Docks on 26th January 1942.

The Exchange rate at that time was $4.035 for £1.

The next photograph is dated 16th March 1942 and shows that one of the first difficulties for the new arrivals is understanding the local Currency! (From

Here the troops are setting foot in Belfast. The first picture is from the United States Army Photographic Record while the following three are Belfast Telegraph pictures of the same event.

26th January 1942 and American Troops have arrived at Spencer Basin and are seen marching along Duncrue Street causing much excitement among local children. (Belfast Telegraph Photographs)

Troops of the United States Army 34th Infantry Division after having arrived in Belfast on 26th January 1942. They are shown marching from the Docks to a nearby Railway Station.

(This is a Library of Congress picture)

(The photographs above and below are from the Life Magazine Photo Archive which is available to EVERYONE)

Above two pictures dated 8th February 1942. American Soldiers arriving in Belfast. (ACME Pictures)

3rd Infantry Division Soldiers at L.M.S. Railway Station beside Belfast Docks. (Belfast Telegraph Photograph)

This photograph shows Bomb Damage to York Road Railway Station in 1941. (Thanks to Sheriff Johnston.) ****FROM PRIVATE COLLECTION. PLEASE DO NOT COPY****

(The photographs above and below are from the Life Magazine Photo Archive which is available to EVERYONE)

(Thanks to Sheriff Johnston for the Photograph above) ****PLEASE DO NOT COPY****

American Soldiers on the March with one carrying a Case of Records! (IWM Picture)

(The photographs above and below are from the Life Magazine Photo Archive which is available to EVERYONE)

I have put this Photograph in this position because it shows more American Service Personnel who have newly arrived in Northern Ireland.

The location is the York Road Railway Station in Belfast which is the same as the pictures above however this dates from much later.

You can see immediately that the Helmets are different and indeed these are U.S. Marines rather than U.S. Army. (J.C. Falkenberg)

Belfast Telegraph article from 19th May 1942. You can see the items shown above in the Northern Ireland War Memorial Building in Belfast. 


(Newspaper Cutting from with Getty image above)

Local Residents are very pleased to see the arrival of the American Troops.

Shown on the left is an interesting photograph as this newly arrived American Soldier is being taken to his new Camp in a Coach.

A considerable number of Coaches had previously been requisitioned by the Royal Army Service Corps when, following the Battle for France and the beginning of the Battle of Britain, it was thought that Northern Ireland was under considerable risk of Invasion.

The intention was that the Coaches would be used to move Personnel to areas on Northern Ireland where they were most needed.

An illustration that this was such a Coach is that all of the glass windows were removed and replaced with simple canvas roll down covers as can be seen in this photograph.

(From the Old Belfast Photographs Facebook Page)

The two photographs below date from 19/20 January 1942 and show American Personnel making the Atlantic Crossing to Northern Ireland

Crossing the Atlantic Ocean was incredibly dangerous with Shipping being obliged to cross only in Convoy formations and as well as the constant risk of attack from the German Navy the fierce Atlantic Storms had to be endured as shown by the photographs below.

This photograph was taken from USS Chateau Thierry during a  journey from New York to Northern Ireland in January 1942. The ship in the photograph is not positively identified buy recorded as being either U.S.S. Quincy or U.S.S. Tuscaloosa. (From U.S. Navy Archive at which is available to everyone.)

U.S.S. Neville is seen in the foreground of this photograph which appears to have ten other ships in the background. This may have been the Convoy which left the east coast of the United States on 19th February 1942.  (From U.S. Navy Archive at which is available to everyone.)

This is an Anti-Aircraft Gun Crew on the alert on U.S.S. Chateau Thierry. The photograph was taken on 1st February 1942 as the ship approached Northern Ireland.

(From U.S. Navy Archive at which is available to everyone.)

This photograph shows a ship coming alongside U.S.S. Chateau Thierry. The Wartime Censor has obliterated the ships number.

(From U.S. Navy Archive at which is available to everyone.)

American soldiers and Nurses en route to Northern Ireland during February 1942. Life boats were checked constantly for any emergency. ( pictures)

Private Milburn Henke is becoming accustomed to his celebrity status and is seen here reading the Stars and Stripes.

The drawing behind him was done by the famous Artist, William Connor who is shown below with Private Henke in the pictures below.

(Picture on the left from "Home Away From Home" and on the right from "After The Battle" Magazine)

The photograph above shows Iola Christiensen, known as 'Squirt' speaking in a live radio link with her Sweetheart Milburn Henke who was in Northern Ireland at the time. She called him by his nickname 'Dinkie' Included in the picture from left to right are Carl Henke (Father), Iola, Peter Lyman (Announcer) and Mrs Henke, Milburn's Mother. (Acme Photograph)

The American boys in Northern Ireland are fast assimilating the customs and mannerisms of their new comrades in arms.
Royal Military Police soldiers examine the American Mess Kit.mess kit.

L to R: Private Frank E. Sharpo, Dadeville, Alabama, Lance Corp. Jack McIlveny, Private Lyl Seamen, of Prattsville, Alabama, Lance Corp. Robert Perry.

This photograph was taken on 16th March 1942.

(From which is available to EVERYONE)

The Arrival of U.S. Troops as reported in "The War Illustrated"

The pictures above show "The War Illustrated" Magazine from 10th February 1942 and its reporting of the arrival of U.S. Forces in Belfast (The War Illustrated)

Daily Telegraph Newspaper from 27th January 1942 (Gumtree)

More American Troops Arrive in Belfast on 18th October 1943

Major General J.K. Edwards with the Northern Ireland Prime Minister Sir Basil Brooke on the left. To the right is The Duke of Abercorn welcoming Major General Walter M. Robertson. (Imperial War Museum photographs)

**********American Service Personnel Throughout Northern Ireland**********

This photograph dates from March 1942 and shows United States Troops in Northern Ireland (Fox Photos Hutton Archive Getty Images)

There were Camps throughout Northern Ireland as Training was carried out in all six counties so please take a look throughout this Website for lots of Information and Pictures

American Troops Training in the snow in Northern Ireland (From

Belfast & County Down Railway Queens Quay Station

Belfast and County Down Railway Staff at Queens Quay Station during the Second World War. (From B&CDR Trust Museum)

Malone Golf Club

This is the impressive building of what is now Malone Golf Club.

Visitors to the club will see brass plaques in the hallway giving the names of members who served in both the First and Second World Wars.
The building was also used by the American Forces during the war. It was known as Ballydrain and it was here that General Leroy P. Collins, who was Commander of the Northern Ireland Base Section, set up his Headquarters on 5th October 1943.

Parliament Buildings, Stormont

During the war Northern Ireland's Parliament Buildings at Stormont were made more difficult for german bombers to find with a liberal coating of pitch! - There was also an air raid shelter within the bushes to the right of the main building, which can be seen in the photograph below left, however unfortunately this has been removed. In the photograph to the right can be seen an Air Raid Shelter to the right of Carsons Statue. (National Museums Northern Ireland picture above and from Britain From Above below)

The photograph above was taken on 26th March 1942. There is an Air Raid shelter on the right. (NMNI Picture)

The pictures above show the Massey Avenue gate of the Stormont Estate with American Soldiers providing a Guard of Honour for the arrival of King George vi and Queen Elizabeth as they attended a Lunch at Stormont during a Royal Visit to Northern Ireland between 24th and 26th June 1942. (From A.T.B. and Life Magazine)

Field Marshal Montgomery at Stormont on 19th September 1945. (Imperial War Museum Photographs)

Barrage Balloon Anchorage Points

The three items shown above are Second World War Barrage Balloon Anchorage Points which can be seen in the grounds of Stormont Estate.

The sign shown below is beside them and a similar sign can be seen beside a large Bomb Crater neat the Main Gate on Upper Newtownards Road.

This was created during a Luftwaffe Air Raid during the Belfast Blitz in 1941 and can be seen in my photograph below.

The Plotting Room is shown above (PRONI Picture)

This article about a Barrage Balloon comes from "The War Illustrated" dated 1st November 1940.

This War Memorial can be seen within Stormont Building.

Luftwaffe Bomb Crater

Below is the Royal Air Force Sector Clock which hung in the Plotting Room of 82 Fighter Command at Stormont.

This type of clock was used to record the position of both friendly and enemy aircraft. - The position of sighted aircraft was recorded with the colour of the triangle beneath the minute hand at the time of sighting. This information was recorded on counters which were placed on a large table on which was overlaid a map. The colour of the counter which was used for new sightings was designated by the time of sighting. - A simple and very effective way of monitoring the movement of both friendly and enemy aircraft. Below right is the A.R.P. Control Room at Stormont.

General Eisenhower at Stormont and how the same location looks now.

The land around Stormont was put to tillage and used to grow vegetables. My photograph shows the same scene today. (BBC Photograph)

Dinner at Stormont Ticket. Dating from shortly after the end of the war. (Ebay picture)