Battle of the Somme Memorial Garden, Shankill Road
Although a Memorial Garden to the Battle of the Somme in 1916 there is this impressive Memorial to Rifleman William John Sewell Coggle. He was the Son of Robert and Eliza Coggle from Belfast and was serving with 2nd Battalion the London Irish Rifles, Royal Ulster Rifles when he was Killed in Action in Italy. He was 18 years old and is buried in Sangro River War Cemetery on the eastern coast of Italy North of Termoli.
Belfast Royal Artillery T.A. Light Anti-Aircraft photographed in 1939. (From Keith McIlroy. Images and Memories of Old Northern Ireland Pre 2000)
Origin of Photograph shown below is unknown.
Shown on the left is William James McEwan.
William James McEwan, Service Number 1490406, served with Royal Artillery Search Light Regiment from 1935 until 1945.
This Group Photograph above shows B Troop, 9th Battery, 3rd Searchlight Regiment, Royal Artillery in 1939.
William received a "Mentioned in Dispatches" at Dunkirk.
He was from Vere Street in Belfast and was demobilised in Germany.
(Thanks very much to Charlie Ireland for information and pictures)
James Matthews from Canning Street, Belfast
James Matthews was born in December 1923 and lived in Canning Street, Belfast.
He joined the Royal Air Force and was a Navigator.
James was captured by the Germans at Hertogenbosch which is to the west of Nijmegen, Netherlands on 19th June 1944 and was taken to Stalag Luft 7 which was a Prisoner of War Camp operated by the Luftwaffe at Bankau, Silesia, Germany. - This is now Bakow in Poland. (Thanks to Paul Wilson)
William Henry Smith Killed in Action Caen 1944.
William Henry Smith was from Weir Street, Shankill Road, Belfast.
He was a Private with 1st (Airborne) Battalion, The Royal Ulster Rifles and landed in Northern France with thousands of others on 6th June 1966, D-Day.
Tragically he lost his life in the quagmire of Caen 14 days later on 20th at the age of 25.
William was the Son of William Henry and Mary Smith.
He was the Husband of Mabel Beatrice Smith of Hereford.
Listed as ''remembered with honour'' at the Cambs-En-Plaine War Cemetery he had previously served in Palestine and India.
(Thanks very much to Jamie Smith)
Robert Kane - Served in Both World Wars
Robert Kane served in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers during the First World War during which he was wounded on two occasions as well as being gassed.
Robert joined the Army again for the Second World War and was a Lance Bombardier in the Royal Artillery.
Robert was based at Clonaver Camp in East Belfast as well as Alexandra Park in the north of the City.
One of his positions was on top of the grain mills at Pollock Dock.
He also served at Bristol and the Orkney Islands.
(Thanks very much to Angela Kane)
W.J. Hall from Woodvale Parade serving in the Middle East.
W.J. Hall was from Woodvale Parade in Belfast and was serving with the Army Catering Corps attached to the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers shown here in Palestine during 1941.
(Thanks very much to his Daughter Sheila for the information and photographs)
George Grady from Keswick Street, Shankill Road.
George Grady was born on 16th April 1925 at 32 Keswick Street, Shankill Road to George and Margaret Grady.
He spent his 16th birthday helping his father, a First World War Veteran, to deal with the aftermath of the Belfast Blitz and the Easter Tuesday Raid by the Luftwaffe.
George is seen on the left above with a Royal Marine and in the group picture on the right.
George had been a Fireman however in 1943 he joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and in 1944 he was serving with the 577 Squadron.
George is seen on the left of the photograph above.
During 1945 he was serving in Southeast Asia with 62 Squadron and the following year served with 31 Squadron then from 19th September with 656 Squadron.
In January 1947 he received a Good Conduct Badge and released from the Royal Air Force on the 8th of July 1947
He then got a job as a Tenter in Ewarts Mills on the Crumlin Road and met his future wife Sally Cardwell from Silverstream Parade. They were engaged by Christmas and married on 8th March 1948 at Ballysillan Presbyterian Church.
George sadly passed away on 6th March 1976 aged just 50. (Thanks very much to Martin Greer for these excellent photographs and information)
Eric Smyth From Keswick Street, Shankill Road.
Leading Aircraftman Eric Smyth, Service Number 1148832, was serving with Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.
He was born in 1924 to William John and Mary Ellen Smyth, nee Brown of 11 Keswick Street Belfast.
Eric died of malaria at Mount Vernon Hospital, Northwood 11th September 1945 when he was 21 years old. He is buried in Dundonald Cemetery.
(Thanks very much to Martin Greer)
Gunner William John Greer, Service Number 1469534 was serving with Regimental Headquarters, 8th Anti-Aircraft, Royal Artillery with the British Expeditionary Force.
William was Driver for a General Grey and was unable to escape from Dunkirk until 3 weeks later than Operation Dynamo and from further along the coast.
(Thanks very much to Martin Greer for photographs and information)
Rifleman Samuel Glass from Belfast Killed in Action 7th June 1944.
Rifleman Samuel Glass, Service Number 7020032, was the Son of John and Agnes Glass from Belfast and Husband of Sarah Glass, of Grimsby, Lincolnshire.
He had been a Young Soldier before joining 1st (Airborne) Battalion, Royal Ulster Rifles.
Samuel landed at Ranville with A Company at 2100 hours on 6th June 1944 and was killed in action the following day.
He is buried in Ranville War Cemetery. (Thanks to George Holiday Glass)
The Hill Brothers
William John 'Billsy' Hill had served in the First World War with 15th (North Belfast Volunteers) Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles and 1st Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers.
William had two Sons, George and Billy who followed him into military service.
Fusilier George Hill
Killed in Action in Sicily.
Fusilier George Hill was from the Shankill Road area of Belfast.
His Service Number was 7043525 and he was serving with 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers.
George was 30 years old when he was killed in action Catania Sicily on 5th August 1943.
Georges Brother, Rifleman Billy Hill, served with 2nd Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles in both Normandy and Palestine.
He was wounded in an arm by shrapnel which was finally removed in the 1950's after it had worked its way down over the years to between his fingers!
Billy joined the Royal Ulster Rifles T.A Battalion after the war and was a Provost Sgt in Victoria Barracks. He is shown below. Billy died in 1989
(Thanks very much to Gareth Phares Welsh for all the information and photographs)
Belfast Blitz Memorial
This simple Memorial can be seen in Shankill Road Graveyard.
The Memorial is built on red brick of the same type which many of the houses in Belfast were constructed from and of which so many were destroyed on the "Darkest Night".
On the left you can see the Headlines of the "Belfast Telegraph" newspaper on 8th April 1941 following the Air Raid. Please look at the Street Scene in the Newspaper and my photograph shows the same scene as it looks today.
****For More "Then and Now" type photographs please click on "Belfast Blitz Then and Now" ****
Royal Ulster Constabulary Glenravel Street and other Fatalities
The following 5 Police Officers were killed when their Police Station at Glenravel Street in Central Belfast was struck and destroyed by a bomb during the Air Raid on 5th May 1941.
Constable Martin Robert Armstrong 24 years, Constable Hugh Campbell 22 years, Constable William John Lemon 19 years, Constable James McKenna 22 years, Constable Robert Reid 22 years.
Shown here is Constable Robert Reid. The photographs were taken shortly after he had Passed Out of the R.U.C. Depot on completion of Initial Training.
(Thanks to James Craig who is the Nephew of the late Robert Reid.)
Shown above is James McKenna. In the photograph to the right can be seen a Plaque giving the names of three Officers who were Killed but omitted from the original Memorial. (Robert Reid for Memorial photograph) (Others - Northern Ireland War Memorial Photographs)
Constable Reid was buried in Ballymena on 14th May 1941. This photograph appeared in the Ballymena Weekly the following day.
The following police officers of the R.U.C. were killed during the German Air Raids on Belfast
16th April 1941 James Meaklim, 38 years old, was killed when a Parachute Mine exploded outside the Police Station at York Road in North Belfast when he was inside. - The station was destroyed.
5th May 1941 Detective Sergeant Robert John Wilson, 42 years old, was killed whilst off duty during an Air Raid.
(Thanks to James Craig who is the Nephew of the late Robert Reid.)
Special Constable Maurice William Howe, 9 Indiana Avenue, died on 16th April 1941 at his home.
(Thanks very much to Brian Reid for the photograph of this Memorial)
The second photograph shows a Plaque giving the names of three Officers who were Killed but omitted from the original Memorial. (Robert Reid)
East Twin Island, Belfast Harbour
East Twin Island had been an old Fort at the entrance to Belfast Docks which was upgraded during the First World War with two 12 Pounder Quick Firer Guns along with 2 Searchlights and 2 Machine-gun Positions.
After the war in 1921, with this Battery being considered surplus to requirements it was returned to the Belfast Harbour Commissioners however with the outbreak of the Second World War it was again needed and three 3 Inch Anti-Aircraft guns were positioned between East Twin Island and the nearby Power Station. These Guns were operated by 175th and 176th Light Anti-Aircraft batteries, Royal Artillery.
The Fort shown in the Plan above was positioned at the top of East Twin Island which is shown in the Aerial photograph (Bing) Nothing now remains of the defences and the site is a busy Dry Dock. (Britain From Above and Google pictures)
Luftwaffe Reconnaissance Photographs and Target Details
It is interesting to see the Targets which had been identified my the Luftwaffe for Bombing. Harland and Wolff Shipyard, Sydenham Airfield and Shorts Aircraft Factory are all included.
High Altitude photograph of Belfast above with one of the Knullenkopfstaffel Aircraft Crews involved in photographing Belfast shown below.
They are (Left to Right) Aerial Gunner Uffz. Hoffs, Observer Oblt Maetzel, Pilot Oblt Wenzer and Radio Operator Ofw. Schmidt.
(Photographs from Book by Harald Rabeder. Many thanks to Jim Stewart)
Shown on the left is the Aircraft Production Building as marked with a "C" on the Luftwaffe Photograph above with an old "Co 2" Marking which has been painted on the wall of this building for the attention of Fire Fighters.
The upper photograph shows that the Luftwaffe have identified the Gas Works for Bombing whilst below this is a Report showing the Targetting of various locations around Belfast. (For more visit http://ww2talk.com/forums/topic/17159-belfast-blitz-luftwaffe)
Shown above you can see the extent of Bomb Damage after the blitz along with a number of Barrage balloons.
The photograph above shows a very busy Belfast Docks in November 1944 with below showing the Musgrave Channel with lots of shipping (I.W.M. Pictures)
Belfast Blitz Mural, St Aubyn Street, Belfast
Frank Scovell, Shipyard Worker and A.R.P. Warden
Frank worked in the Diesel Drawing Office and remembered one young man who had been on the Reina del Pacifico which was returning to Belfast from Sea Trials around the Clyde.
Suddenly there were explosions in the crank spaces of all four engines which killed twenty-eight people including the young man who was known as Fernie Glenfield.
Before the Second World War Harland & Wolff had produced Locomotives however this was changed to Tanks as war approached and in an attempt to stem the U-Boat menace Winston Churchill gave top priority to the construction of seven hundred ton Corvette.
The Shipyard produced these two at a time with one being delivered each fortnight!
As losses in the Atlantic were reduced production changed to Aircraft Carriers and Cruisers and as the possibility of Air Raids loomed larger he joined the Civil Defence, initially in the Auxiliary Fire Service before moving to the A.R.P. Wardens.
After the Dockside raid of 7th / 8th April 1941 there were numbers of burnt Pigeons lying around the shipyard which had been killed during the bombing then the Easter Tuesday Bombing took place on Frank's 21st Birthday.
He was sitting in the Regal Cinema when a Red Alert Message was flashed on the screen so he left for the A.R.P. Post.
Frank and his Colleagues were advised "You're for it tonight. There are Squadrons of them coming up the Irish Sea!"
There were parachute flares and lots of shrapnel from the Anti-Aircraft guns at Balmoral Golf Course.
A Fire Pump from the Malone Avenue Station which was connected to my A.R.P. Post was blasted with the loss of George Spence and Hugh Castles whilst three other Firemen were severely injured.
This was upsetting because Richard had been in the same class as these men at School.
Following the "All-Clear" he made his way home and shortly after his father, who was an Ambulance Driver also returned safely.
Later that day Frank went to Queens Road to assess the damage while a couple of his fellow Wardens were sent to find the Dublin Fire Brigade who were on the Lisburn Road and take them to the Belgravia Hotel for Breakfast before heading for Fire Headquarters where they were sent to tackle a fire in a large Mill.
The Father of one of the Dublin Firemen was making his was home from his wrecked workplace along Lisburn Road when he was astounded to be passed by a green Fire Engine from Dublin clanging as it passed .....with his Son on board as it headed for Chichester Street!!
The Luftwaffe returned on the night of 4th / 5th May 1941 and the Shipyard was devastated including the Diesel Drawing Office.
Vital Admiralty Specifications were in a large safe which was dragged from the wreckage and salvaged.
Frank went to Tamar Street to relieve exhausted A.R.P there when there was yet another alert however on this occasion it was believed to have been a single aircraft assessing the damage of the previous night.
Whilst cycling away the devastation was everywhere.
Men were shoring up an Air Raid Shelter which was falling into a bomb crater at Bryson Street, a truck passed with an unexploded bomb in the back then another which was carrying a stack of unvarnished coffins. Such were those days.
Shore Road Memorial
"In honour of the brave men and women who served on the Home Front 1939 - 1945. The Ulster Defence Volunteer Force, The Womens Voluntary Services, The Auxiliary Fire Service, The Air Raid Precautions Wardens."
This memorial is dedicated to the thousands of local people who volunteered during World War 2 and can be seen on York Road.
Dunmore Park, Belfast
An A.T.S. Company Commander is seen receiving Shamrock at Dunville Park on 17th March 1942. The Shamrick is being presented by Brigadier P.H. Hansen V.C.
To the right Shamrock is offered to F.T. Gillespie, American Forces. (IWM Pictures)
Lieutenant Colonel Panter puts Shamrock in American Officers cap. The second American Officer is Major R.E. O'Connor (IWM Photos)
Brigadier Hansen V.C. Puts Shamrock in his cap. Shamrock is issued to Troops of 31st Battalion, Royal Ulster Rifles at Dunmore Park, Belfast
Brigadier Hansen V.C. shakes hands with Sergeant Pauline Ann Bromwich ATS and presents her with a Certificate of Devotion to Duty during an Air Raid.
A similar Certificate is presented to Leslie C. Chute for devotion to duty during an Air Raid (IWM Pictures)
These three photographs show Second World War Veterans of the North Irish Horse on Parade at Dunville Park in the 1980's
St Aubyn Street Belfast Blitz Murals
This is one long mural depicting the Belfast Blitz.
This one can be seen in adjoining St Vincent Street.
32 Carncaver Road
The Brass Plaque shown here marks the fact that James Magennis had lived at this address for a few years.
During the War the Pollock Dock was exclusively for Admiralty use and 20 extra Mooring Dolphins were installed on the Eastern side of the Herdman Channel at Sinclair Road for use by the Trawlers used for Convoy Protection.
Templemore Avenue Auxiliary Fire Service Training Exercise at Ulster Hospital
Shown above giving instructions and below is an Ambulance taking part in the Exercise. (PLEASE DO NOT COPY)
Casualty being Lowered From Roof of Ulster Hospital
The photographs above show an Exercise at Ulster Hospital,Templemore Avenue on 22nd July 1941. As can be seen from these photographs the hospital had received extensive damage during the Belfast Blitz and was little more than a shell. Note the signs relating to Gas casualties who woud have required specific treatment.
Shown below are Then and Now Photographs looking down Templemore Avenue (DO NOT COPY THESE PICTURES)
The photographs above show an Auxiliary Fire Service training exercise taking place in Templemore Avenue on 22nd July 1941. (DO NOT COPY THESE PICTURES)
David V. Morrow, from Strandtown, Belfast
Born in the Strandtown area of Belfast David Morrow joined the Royal Navy in 1939.
He served in the North Atlantic as well as the Mediterranean Sea and was finally demobbed in 1946 and joined the Merchant Navy.
David V morrow sadly passed away in 2011 aged 92. (Thanks very much to David Morrow)
Mountpottinger Methodist Church
The final photographs in the previous item show part of Mountpottinger Methodist Church with an Exercise by the Auxiliary Fire Service taking place outside.
This Church was very fortunate to survive the Air raids in 1941 whilst there was much death and damage in the surrounding area.
The stained glass window shown here in in memory of those who were killed as well as celebrating the survival of this building.
Children Collecting Metal in Memel Street, Belfast.
Children gathering scrap for the War Effort in 1940. Memel Street area was redeveloped as Rotterdam Court. (Belfast Telegraph picture)
Ulster Home Guard. Ormo Bakery Unit
Auxiliary Fire Service Display at Mays Market on 23rd July 1941.
The photographs below have been included with comparrison photographs of how the same location looks today. (PLEASE DO NOT COPY)
As it used to look (Belfast Telegraph Photograph)
Shown here are more photographs of the Exercise. (PLEASE DO NOT COPY)
Above you can see Firemen working with Water Hoses and Pumps. (PLEASE DO NOT COPY)
Accuracy with the use of a water Jet. (PLEASE DO NOT COPY)
Deployment of Foam (PLEASE DO NOT COPY)
This photograph shows Firemen wearing Breathing Apparatus. (National Museums Northern Ireland photograph)
Red Cross Nurses on Parade, Mays Market
Possibly on the same day as the photographs of A.F.S. this photograph has been taken in the same location as top left. (Ulster Museum photograph from the Book Northern Ireland in the Second World War by Brian Barton)
Sirocco Engineering Works
Men performing Guard Duty at Sirocco Engineering Works on the banks of the River Lagan in Central Belfast. (Public Records Office pictures). ***DO NOT COPY***
On the left of this photograph is Bill Foster performing his Home Guard duty of the roof of Sirocco Works. (Thanks to Trevor Foster)
Pims Avenue Air Raid Precautions Exercise
Shown here are photographs of an A.R.P. Exercise which took place in Pims Avenue on 22nd July 1941. (PLEASE DO NOT COPY)
Shown below are two "Then and Now" comparrison photographs of the scene as it looked on 22nd July 1941 and as the same street looks today.
The Second Comparrison is shown below. (PLEASE DO NOT COPY)
Emergency Water Supply Signage.
This sign can be seen painted on the wall of a building at the junction of Montgomery Street and May Street in the City Centre.
If you look closely at the "Post No Bills" wording you will see a large yellow coloured arrow pointing to the right and in the centre of this below "st No B" can be seen the faint "E.W.S." referring to "Emergency Water Supply"
Stranmillis College Military Hospital
Stranmillis College at Stranmillis Road, Belfast became a Military Hospital during the war.
My photograph shows how little has changed from the old picture.
Her Royal Highness, The Princess royal is seen here visiting the Military Hospital at Stranmillis on 14th October 1942. (Imperial War Museum Photographs)
These pictures show Mrs Gordon Johnston and her Shop on Wheels as she sells to Patients in Stranmillis Military Hospital. (Imperial War Museum Photographs)
Army Dental Centre, Belfast
This photograph was taken at the Army Dental Centre in Belfast on 9th January 1942. (I.W.M. Photograph)
Duncairn Gardens Methodist Church
I went to this site with the intention of doing a pair of "Then and Now" type comparison pictures however the architecture did not seem correct and on looking at one of the window sills I found this explaination.
Musgrave Channel Pontoons
These are 3 old Pontoons which are lying in Musgrave Channel between Victoria Park and the George Best Belfast City Airport.
When Flying Boats were launched, a short distance from where the pontoons now lie, from Shorts Aircraft Factory into Musgrave Channel they would not have been fully equipped as a safety feature.
It was only when the Flying Boats were afloat that these pontoons were used to transport all the extra armament and equipment to the aircraft prior to their deployment to active service.
Airport Road / Shorts Aircraft Factory
The Sunderland Flying Boat Production Line in 1940.
The 2 small photographs above show the same location but from a different angle and at a very different age!
An ideal comparrison picture would be taken from Airport Road immediately beside the slipway as seen in the top picture however I have gone to Musgrave Channel Road on the other side of the water to get an unobstructed view of the slipway.
The small building to the right of the modern picture is the one immediately behind the Sunderland Flying Boats in the original picture.
The colour photograph shows Stirling Bombers as seen in the first photograph (From RAF in Colour)
The view on the left is looking towards the Slipway as it appears today whilst on the right is the old building and Slipway.
The Sunderland in this photograph has been moved from the large building shown above and is being taken to the slipway which is shown in my photograph immediately above.
Here are some photographs of Sunderland W6050 being launched on 10th April 1942.
Sunderland Flying Boats and Stirling Bombers being manufactured side by side and three Sunderlands sitting beside the slipway ready for launching.
Flightdeck of sunderland shown above.
The Sunderland in the photograph on the left is being produced for the Royal New Zealand Air Force. (It and the photographs above come from the fantastic Belfast Forum)
This fabulous photograph shows Short Stirling Mk3 BF509 flying over the County Antrim countryside whilst above right are Stirling Bombers under construction.
(Both this and the photograph come from the excellent website https://218squadron.wordpress.com/)
Stirling Production seen on the left with the Flight Engineers position in the Bomber shown to the right.
Short Sunderland Flying Boats being manufactured in Belfast. (Photograph on the left from "Fermanagh in the Second World War" by Joe O'Loughlin)
On the right are a number of Sunderland Flying Boats with the cranes of Harland and Wolff Shipyard in the background.
This painting is called "On board an Escort Carrier. Winter dusk in Belfast Harbour. Sunderland Flying Boats" and shows the same general scene as above. (I.W.M. picture) whilst right & below are Damage after the Air Raid on 4th / 5th May 1941.
Part of a Sunderland Flying Boat being transported through central Belfast.
The building on the left has the "Short Brothers" sign above the main entrance and can be seen at Airport Road, Belfast.
The building is opposite Victoria Park where there had been an Anti-Aircraft Gun Battery during the War.
Shown here is the Short and Harlands Group, Ulster Home Guard. (Thanks very much to James Craig for this photograph which includes his Father who worked on both Sunderland and Stirling Aircraft.) ***FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION. PLEASE DO NOT COPY***
Shorts Aircraft Factory after having been Bombed by the Luftwaffe
This structure was constructed inside the Factory to provide "Air Raid Protection" for those who were unable to reach an Air raid Shelter.
Clearing Up after being Bombed by the Luftwaffe.
These pictures show Short Stirling Bombers on the production line - Propellers can be seen to the left of this picture.
Badly damages Stirling Bombers shown both above and below.
Men are seen saving what can be recovered and later Production continues as usual. (From the excellent Old Belfast Facebook Page)
The excellent selection of Blitz Damage photographs shown below come from Alan Warnock. Thanks very much Alan.
Stirling can be seen above with a Lysander in the wreckage below.
Ruins of Lysanders can be seen in this photograph. (Thanks very much to Beverly Twin Law for the 2 photographs below)
Blitz Damage Still Visible at Shorts!
Some damage which occrred during the Bombing of Shorts Factory in 1941 can still be seen!
These photographs show shrapnel damage to one of the Support Beams within the factory. At the time when repairs were taking place after the raids it was clearly decided that this did not require replacement meaning we have a great piece of history remaining from the Belfast Blitz!
Belfast City Airport
The concrete structure shown here is what was known as a "Seagull Trench" and was an Airfield Defensive Structure. The design looks like a seagull in flight and is shaped like the wings of a Stuka Dive Bomber with the hardened shelter in the middle having 2 shelters.
On 5th May 1941 the airfield was bombed and sustained 16 craters on the aerodrome surface with 3 craters on the perimeter track and 16 craters on the outer perimeter track rendering it temporarily unserviceable.
The memorial shown here was at the covered walkway between the main terminal and car park however it has now been replaced by the stone version below which can be seen when walking towards the Terminal.
Here is the old Royal Naval Control Tower with an overhead view of Sydenham Airfield, Belfast as it looked on 13th November 1945. (Picture from Royal Naval Research Archive)
Here are a few better quality photographs showing the Airfield with Ammunition Jettey beside which is docked U.S.S. Bogue.
You can see more about Ammunition Jetty at Greater Belfast Part 6 (From Britainfromabove and the Royalnavyresearcharchive )
(The newspaper article above is from PPrune. Thanks very much to Bracken Anderson for the item below)
With the closure of Royal Air Force Sydenham the R.A.F. presented their flags to St Brendan's Church on 26th February 1978. (Thanks very much to Joe Turner)
Royal Air Force, Dunlambert Hotel, Belfast.
An Independent Royal Air Force Headquarters for Northern Ireland was authorised in 1940 and the Group, known as 61 Group was formed on 6th July 1940.
It had been created by raising Number 61 Group to Command Status and was later reduced to Group status administered by Coastal Command on 1st August 1945.
It took over the Dunlambert Hotel in Belfast as H.Q. R.A.F. N.I. on 6th August with the Air Officer Commanding being Air Commodore C.R. Carr D.F.C. A.F.C.
Commanding Officers were:-
12 Dec 1940 Group Captail A H Wann
14 Aug 1941 Air Vice Marshall G C Pirie
5 Nov 1941 Air Vice Marshall P C Maltby
21 Nov 1941 Air Vice Marshall J B Cole-Hamilton
15 Oct 1942 Air Vice Marshall A T Cole RAAF
14 Mar 1943 Air Vice Marshall D F Stevenson
7 Dec 1943 Air Commodore W H Primrose
20 Aug 1944 Air Commodore. A R Churchman
(Information from RAF Web. Photograph of the Dunlambert building being demolished from Lordbelmontinnorthernireland.blogspot.co.uk)
Officers of Royal Air Force Headquarters, Northern Ireland. (Imperial war Museum Photograph)
CAM Ships (Catapult Armed Merchantmen)
The Memorial which can be seen at Belfast City Airport has a design showing an Aircraft sitting on a CAM Ship however this can be better understood by the photographs below.
This is Flight Lieutenant D.R. Turley-George with Flying Officer Fenwick in front of their Hurricane on board the S.S. Empire Tide.
Tragic Grumman Hellcat Crash at Sydenham
This is a Grumman Hellcat which crashed near Gillespie's plant nurseries on the Holywood Road, Belfast.
It was 10th April 1945 and the aircraft had just taken off from Sydenham when it was seen to make a steep turn and dive into an open field.
A group of 5 Boys were fishing for "spricks" in a stream at a field near Sydenham Railway Station when the aircraft crashed.
Norman Russell was 12 years old and lived at 60 Brandon Parade, Belfast.
He had become separated from his friends as the aircraft hit the ground and turned over with its tail striking Norman before the aircraft burst into flames.
The pilot of the single-seat fighter, Sub-Lieutenant Edmund John Hoy, was severely injured and died an hour later in the Military Hospital at Campbell College. (More information regarding the Military Hospital can be found on this website)
Sub Lieutenant Edmund John Hoy, Service Number 67572, was 27 years old and serving with South African Naval Forces.
Edmund was the Son of Alfred E. Hoy, and of Catherina M. Hoy, of Durban, Natal, South Africa and had went to Sydenham to collect one of a number of newly arrived Hellcats.
This particular aircraft had been allocated to No 892 Squadron which was then re-forming at Eglinton Royal Naval Air Station and was being newly equipped with night fighter variants of the Hellcat.
One of the other Boys, Raymond Galloway was struck by flying wreckage and knocked into the stream.
Norman's Parents were at the Cinema when tragedy struck and they were alerted by a notice which was shown on the screen.
The body of Norman Russell was only recovered when the fire had been extinguished.
Shown here is the crashed aircraft as well as the Headstone of Sub-Lieutenant Hoy who is buried in Belfast City Cemetery.
Norman Russell was laid to rest in Dundonald Cemetery. In the same grave is Angus Norman Russell (Normans Father) who was 71 years old when he died on 11th October 1966. The grave is unmarked. There is no headstone and only a black pot as shown in my photograph. I have now added a Poppy.
(Thanks very much to Gary Campbell, Ernie Cromie, Alan Freeburn, Northern Ireland War Memorial, Belfast Telegraph, Belfast News letter)
Sydenham Train Station
Users of the Belfast to Bangor rail system will have seen this painting on a wall at Sydenham Train Station.
The painting shows the old Control Tower at Sydenham however wrongly identifies it as the "Old R.A.F. Control Tower" when it was actually a Royal Navy "Naval Type 3860/42"
If you use any of the Tour Busses which operate within the City of Belfast I am sure the tour will include a visit to the Dry Dock where the Titanic was built.
became the headquarters for Belfast Naval Base which was home to minesweepers and trawlers, of which there were 70 by the end of 1940.
Caroline provided signal and cypher facilities to her trawlers and a school for Merchant Navy DEMS (Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships) Gunners.
The base soon outgrew the ship, spreading out into buildings all over Belfast, including Belfast Castle.
Naval ratings attached to these buildings wore the name Caroline on their cap ribbons. Later in the war, the base expanded again and the minesweepers were replaced with escort groups of destroyers, corvettes and frigates. It was at this time that the current Captains Quarters at the rear of the ship was built for the Commodore responsible for Belfast Harbour.
H.M.S. Caroline. As you can see she has been rotated 180 degrees and painted back to the original colour as part of the restoration work.
Four of the Ships Guns as seen from the bow.
The Navigating Bridge.
One of the Rooms in the Captains Cabin.
Keys to the Ammunition Magazine.
Ordinary Ranks Washroom.
One of the Engines.
On looking around it was great to find the old signs which are shown above.
"Victualling Store" and "Tiller Flat"
Shown on the right is a British Naval Mine which can be seen beside the Ship.
This is the Admiralty Profile Plan of H.M.S. Caroline as signed in May 1913. (Admiralty photograph)
Royal Visit to H.M.S. Caroline
The King is shown inspecting the Ships Company of H.M.S. Caroline in Belfast in 1942. (I.W.M. Photograph)
Soldiers being Inspected at Victoria Park (Imperial War Museum Photograph)
"The Oval" Football Ground
(Thanks very much to Tim Fergusson for the photographs of the Oval Pillbox shown above)
On the night of 3rd / 4th May 1941 the Luftwaffe attached a number of targets in the Industrial heart of Belfast. This pillbox was one of the defence positions which were manned by soldiers of the Gloucestershire Regiment who were based at nearby Victoria Park.
Shown here is Thomas Pearson who had played as a Goalkeeper for Glentoran Football Club before joining the Irish Guards.
He is remembered with a Plaque and the documents shown here which can be seen in the foyer of the Grandstand at The Oval.
Belfast Blitz ARP Rescue and Demolition Services.
Shown here is the Air Raid Precautions Rescue and Demolition Authority Card which was issued to Sydney Boyd from Melrose Street, Belfast.
(Thanks very much to Michael Roberts)
Connsbank Road Air Raid Shelter
Solidly built with protected doorways and a clearly strengthened roof it has all the appearances of an air raid shelter. At each end there appears to be seating however my initial identification of it as a shelter is confused by the fact that there are windows facing the Victoria Park side.
Belfast Telegraph Newspaper Building
A short walk along Donegal Place and Royal Avenue will bring you to the Belfast Telegraph newspaper offices and a little plaque which illustrates the spirit which was to be found in Northern Ireland during the Second World war.
On 15th April 1941 Auxiliary Fire Service men were called from Malone Avenue to assist at the L.M.S. Railway Station at York Road which was severely damaged by Bombing.
As they drove past the Belfast Telegraph Offices a Bomb exploded killing two of the men - George Spence and Hugh Castles as well as severely injuring three others.
Mr James Jameson Lee and Mr Clyde Rainey continued with their Fire Fighting duties and were both Commended for Bravery.
See Greater Belfast Part 6 Section for more details.
Seaforde Street / Newtownards Road
The scene of a bomb explosion outside St Matthews Roman Catholic Church at the junction of Seaforde Street and Newtownards Road. (From Belfast Telegraph "Bombs on Belfast)
This happened during the Easter Tuesday Raid on 16th April 1941 and the records of the Belfast Civil Defence Authority show that Patrick Mulholland from 7 Seaforde Street was seriously injured and receiving treatment in the Royal Victoria Hospital. I have also learned that Patrick Duffy, 27 years old from 5 Seaforde Street was killed during this raid.
On visiting the scene and talking to local residents I was able to find damage to the small wall on which the railings are positioned which was caused as a direct result of the bomb.
When walking past the University I would ask you to look at the small wall where you can see where the metal railings which had been on top of the wall were cut off and smelted down for use in the war effort.
The pictures above show that the grass areas inside Queens were put to cultivation while the Medical School maintained a regular supply of qualified Doctors to practice locally as well as volunteering for service.
(I would like to thank Marketing & Creative Services, QUB for permission to use these pictures).
Field Marshall Montgomery is shown below meeting Lord Londonderry at the Assembly Hall, Queens University on 14th September 1945. (Belfast Telegraph Photograph)
This is the impressive Drum House at Drumbeg which is referred to in detail by Romie Lambkin as mentioned below.
During the war it was used as a base by the Home Guard as well as 602 Motor Transport Company with a number of nissen huts in the grounds.
The front of the house shown here was used as a Parade Ground and Staff Cars would have been parked in line. To the rear of the house was a Vehicle Inspection Pit and bath houses for the troops.
The property is now "Drum House Nursery"
The photographs belos show Dispatch Riders from Number 10 M.T. Company, A.T.S. at Drum House. (Imperial War Museum Photographs)
A.T.S. Billets Eglantine Avenue.
The houses at Numbers 4 and 7 Eglantine Avenue were used at Billets for A.T.S. (Auxiliary Territorial Service) women during the war.
They are mentioned in the book "My Time in the War" by Romie Lambkin who served in the A.T.S. and was based there in 1942.
These photographs refer to Headquarters 12 and 33 Provost Section, A.T.S. Belfast. (All photographs from Imperial War Museum)
On the left is Lance Corporal Crook from Biggleswade, Bedfordshire
Sub Robinson instructs in Police Duty. Sergeant Osborne from Rochdale instructs a Class in Self Defence
Lance Corporal Appleby from London is seen bandaging Lance Corporal Hanby from Leeds.
Corporal Garner of Swaffham, Norfolk is shown checking Passes at the Docks
Lieutenant Colonel Cheney inspecting A.T.S. Policewomen
This photograph shows A.T.S. Aircraft Spotters using specially designed chairs on 24th September 1941.
Wandsworth House A.R.P. First Aid Service
The building which was "Wandsworth House" during the Second World War is now Greenwood House Assessment Centre in Greenwood Avenue and unfortunately this was the best picture I could take of the building as it now stands. (Old WW2 picture from "Snapshots of Belfast")
Roy Burns, Percy Dalzell and their Churchill Tank called Bushmills!
Roy and Percy were serving with the North Irish Horse in Italy.
They were in a Churchill Tank which had a few distinctive alterations.
The original Commander of the vehicle had been killed by an air burst mortar when putting his head out to have a look around so Roy had the cupola of a Panzer Mk3 fitted for extra protection.
Another modification is that the tank is armed with two Three Inch Howitzers.
Roy is shown on the right when in Rome.
Percy exchanged the Bushmills tank for a Mk 5 Churchill called Bangor.
With the decision having been made to capture Russi, southeast of Bologna, 5 Troop set off in support of the Canadians in Le Royal 22e Regiment.
By late morning Bangor, followed by the tanks of the Troop Leader and Sergeant Freddy Verso began clearing the enemy around a road junction but was suddenly knocked out having been hit by two 88mm shells.
Only two of her crew survived.
The Troop Leaders tank was then hit wounding two of the Crew however Freddy Verso's tank helped the Canadians repel a counterattack.
On that morning the Regiment lost the last of its Personnel to be killed during the war.
Percy lost the Commander with whom he had served through the Tunisian campaign, Sergeant Roy Burns.
Roy was laid to rest beside Troopers Norman Corbin, Robert Arthur Stafford and John Wood in Forli War Cemetery.
Percy survived the war.(Thanks very much to Charles Dalzell for this information and photographs.)
During 1939 ARP Volunteers assembled gas masks in the Ulster Hall in Bedford Street.
Carnmoney Aircraft Crash Memorial
The only member of the crew who is buried in Northern Ireland was Aircraftman 1st Class, Arthur Bond Douthwaite, Service Number 1002818.
Arthur was 22 years old and the Son of Sydney and Ruth Douthwaite. He was laid to rest in Belfast City Cemetery and his headstone is shown here.
Sergeant Pilot Thomas Lindsay Armstrong was flying Bristol Blenheim L1232.
He was at Worcester Landing Ground and attempting to land at night but the aircraft overshot hitting a tree and house.
Sergeant Armstrong was killed. He was the Son of Thomas and Agnes from Belfast.
Robert Bell was a Saloon Steward aboard H.M.S. Foylebank which was being used as an Anti-Aircraft Ship.
The ship was attacked by JU87 Aircraft when it was in Portland Harbour being dive bombed and machine gunned. Robert Bell was killed in action.
Petty Officer James Benson was serving at H.M.S. Drake when he died.
Sergeant Pilot Harold Gibson Black was serving with Number 2 Flying Instructor School when he was Killed.
Leading Telegraphist Alexander Wilson Brown P/UD/X1452 was serving aboard H.M.S. Hurlworth when the ship struck a mine in the Agean Sea. Following the explosion the ship split into two and sank with the loss of 113 men including Alex Brown.
Sergeant Air Gunner John Stanley Burnside was serving with 9 Squadron R.A.F. based at RAF Honington, Suffolk.
On the night of 7th / 8th July 1941 he was aboard Vickers Wellington 1C R1040 on a Mission to Cologne. (A similar aircraft is shown below. I.W.M. Picture)
The aircraft was shot down by Night Fighter Obit. Reinhold Knacke of 2./NJG1 and crashed with the loss of all 6 Crew near Limburg in Holland (Info from Aircrew Remembered)
John Leadbetter Carson was a Pilot serving with 201 Squadron, Royal Air Force.
He was flying Sunderland I P9622, ZM-W on an Air Sea Rescue mission after another Sunderland aircraft, P9620, had ditched however weather was bad and ZM-W flew in to Dunnett Head, Caithness.
Sub-Lieutenant Pilot George Nethercott Cunningham was serving with 717 Squadron, Fleet Air Arm based at H.M.S. Merganser when he was killed in an aircraft crash.
Flight Sergeant Richard St John Trevor Crawford was a ilot with the Royal Air Force when he died on 22nd May 1945.
Rifleman James Dugan was the Son of Martha Dugan from Belfast. He was serving with 10th Battalion Cameronians, Scottish Rifles when he died.
Killed during the Belfast Blitz.
Elizabeth Anderson, 59 Years and Margaret Darragh, 62 years. Both of 26 Sylvan Street, Belfast. Both died on 22nd April 1941 in Mater Hospital.
Lance Corporal James Stafford Forsythe was serving with 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers. He was the Son of William John and Martha Forsythe from Belfast.
Battery Quartermaster Sergeant Walter harper Gibson was serving with 175 Battery, 66 Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery. He was the husband of Elizabeth Gibson from Belfast.
Sergeant Air Gunner Thomas gates was serving with 158 Squadron, Royal Air Force. He was aborad Halifax Bomber JD208 which took off from Lissett at 22.47 on 25th July 1943 on a Mission to bomb Essen. On returning the aircraft stalled and went in to a spin into the ground near Driffield, Yorkshire with the loss of all on board.
On the night of 4th / 5th May 1941 Robert Alexander Kane was a member of the Merchant Navy and Second Engineer Officer on the Ship S.S. Fair Head. This was a Transport Ship which was moored in Dufferin Dock loaded with military supplies and was seriously damaged by a Parachute Mine during an Air Raid.
The ship was subsequently beached at bangor and broken up.
John Hudson was on board S.S. Turakana (Shown above) which was on a voyage from Sydney to Wellington when it was attacked by the German Raider Orion which sunk Turakana with gunfire and torpedoes. The Ships Captain and 33 men were lost. (Photograph from nzhistory.gov.nz)
John Oswald Johnston was serving with 619 Squadron, R.A.F. based at Dunholme Lodge.
On the shortest night of the year he was aboard Lancaster I LL977 PG-H on a mission to a Synthetic Oil Plant at Wesseling which is South of Cologne.
The aircraft was hit by Flak at 17,000 Feet in the Aachen area and exploded. The explosion threw the Pilot out of the aircraft and he survived to be a Prisoner of War however all others aboard were killed.
William Latimer was serving at H.M.S. Drake when he died on 12th January 1945.
Gunner Angus Lyttle was serving with the Royal Artillery when he died.
Warrant Officer William Robert Martin was serving with Number 26 Operational Training Unit when he died.
Flight Sergeant Thomas Dunwoody "Teddy" Mayne was serving with 408 Royal Canadian Air Force Squadron when he was Killed in Action. He was aboard Lancaster II DS-778 EQ-U on a mission to Kassel and is buried in Hanover.
Sergeant Pilot William Alexander Millar, 83 Squadron R.A.F. was aboard Handley Page Hampden Mk I X3132, Code OL-L on Friday 21st March 1941 when it left Scampton in Lincolnshire on a Gardening Mission in which Sea Mines were dropped.
This particular mission was to drop a large mines at the entrance to Brest Harbour and only two aircraft were to take park.
The Sergeant Pilot was Barton James Oliver with Sergeant Pilot William Alexander Millar. The Radio-Operator and Observer was Sergeant Norman Stewart Weir, aged 21, and Sergeant Duncan MacCallum was Gunner.
Tragically the aircraft was hit by lightning and came down between Rosquiel and Le Poulou at approximately 0200 killing sergeant Weir as well as Sergeant Millar however the other two Crew fortunately escaped and the mine was located approx 150 meters from the wreck site!
Robert McDonald was serving with 176 Battery, 66 Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment Royal Artillery and fellow Artilleryman Herbert Molyneaux was with 4 Anti-Aircraft Tractor Battery.
Robert Morrison was serving with 1st Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles and John Nutt was serving on H.M.S. White Bear which is shown above (IWM Photograph)
Private James Ross was serving with the Pioneer Corps. he was the Husband of Esther Ross from Belfast.
Corporal John Calvert Kinnin was serving with 2nd Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles and was the son of Isaac and Emily Kinnin from Belfast.
Riggers Mate Harry O'Leary was serving on H.M.S. Barnstone which was a Boom Defence Vessel.
Photograph of H.M.S. Barnstone below (From www.navy-net.co.uk)
John Stewart was 23 years old and serving with 48 Commando, Royal Marines.
He was Killed in Action in Southwest Holland and is buried at Bergen-Op-Zoom, Netherlands.
Nathaniel Knowles, Service Number 1543844, was serving with 483 Battery, 82nd Searchlight Regiment, Royal Artillery when he died on 27th October 1943
Sergeant John Alexander Malcolm was an Air gunner with the royal Air Force. He was the son of Alexander and Elenor Malcolm from Belfast.
Flight Sergeant Pilot Jack Donnelly Pringle, Number 1485878 was serving with 263 Squadron R.A.F.
He was 21 years old and the Son of Robert S and Margaret Pringle from Belfast. He died on 28th may 1944.
Susan (Susanna) Story was 59 years old and was killed in her home at 74 Whitewell Road along with her Daughter Renee (Rachel Anna) who was 34 years old.
Both were Killed during the Belfast Blitz on 5th May 1941.
Flight Lieutenant Derek Edward Reay was 22 years old and serving with 207 Squadron, Royal Air Force.
On 23rd November 1943 he had been aboard Lancaster 1 EM-S, N4959 which had taken off from RAF Spilsby in Lincolnshire on a mission to Berlin.
The aircraft crashed at Altharen North of Meppen -Ems. Derek Edward Reay is named on the Runnymede Memorial.
Flying Officer Geoffrey Norman Reay was 21 years old and serving with 51 Squadron, Royal Air Force. He was in Halifax Bomber LW177 on 5th November 1944 on a mission to Bochum when this was one of three bombers lost. He is buried in Rheinberg War Cemetery.
Brothers Jim and George Shanks from Whiteabbey. Both Killed in Action.
Brothers Jim and George Shanks were the Sons of Matthew and Elizabeth Shanks, of Whiteabbey, Co. Antrim.
Jim Shanks was a Gunner aboard H.M.S. Diamond (Shown below) which, on 20th April 1941 was attacked and sunk by German aircraft near Malta.
He has no grave and is named on the Plymouth Naval Memorial.
George Shanks was serving aboard S.S. Empire Masefield when, on 13th January 1942, the ship was attacked and bombed by enemy aircraft off Yorkshire.
George, like his brother, was Killed in Action however the ship stayed afloat and he was buried in Acklam Cemetery, Middlesborough.
Able Seaman Shanks was the only fatality of this action. (Newsteam photo)
The Simon Family at 7 Sunningdale Park, Belfast.
Henry Simon,55 years, was at Home with his Wife, Florence, 45 years and their Son Geoffrey Ronald, 19 years when they were all Killed on the night of 15th / 16th April 1941 during the "Belfast Blitz". Their home is shown below.
This headstone would hardly merit a second glance however look a little deeper.
Gunner John Reginald Walter Smyth was serving with 7 Coast Regiment, Royal Artillery in the Far East when he was captured by the Japanese.
Reginald Smith died as a Japanese Prisoner of War forced to work on the Thailand - Burma Railway on 15th September 1943 when he was 23 years old.
He is named on the Memorial at Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, Saeng Chuto Road, Kanchanaburi, Thailand NEVER FORGOTTEN.
Margaret Toogood, aged 78 years died at 78 Hogarth Street, Belfast along with Mary Elizabeth Howard aged 68 years. Killed during the Belfast blitz on 16th April 1941.
Thomas Foster Thompson was serving with the Royal Ulster Rifles attached to the Pioneer Corps and Charles Henry Turner, who had won the Military Cross, was serving with 6th Home Decence Battalion, Royal Ulster Rifles when he died. He was 64 Years old!!
The McFall Family were killed during the Belfast Blitz on the 16th April 1941.
They were a family of FIVE - Joseph who was 43 years old and his Wife Violet who was 41 years old along with their children Sarah 23 years, Martha 19 years and Joseph who was 10 years old.
They were killed in their home at 33 Louisa Street off the Oldpark Road.
George Moore was serving with the Merchant Navy and was only 16 Years Old. He is buried in Algiers, North Africa.
Accidents continue to happen, even when the victim is fighting in a war in a far off land.
Wallace B. McCappin was a sailor aboard H.M.S. Esk which was part of the 20th Destroyer Flotilla and had sailed from Immingham on a mine laying mission.
Aerial reconnaissance had detected German ships and the Flotilla went to intercept however H.M.S. Express struck a mine and was seriously damaged. At this stage H.M.S. Esk, under the command of Lt Commander R.J.H. Couch D.S.C. R.N. went to the assistance of the Express and she also struck a mine.
Within only 15 minutes H.M.S. Esk broke in two and sank with the loss of 135 sailors including Wallace.
The wreck lies 40 nautical miles Northwest of Texel Island, Netherlands.
Sarah Eliza Byrne was killed at 31 Louisa Street, her home address, during the Blitz on 16th April 1941.
She was 56 years old and the Widow of Daniel Byrne.
The significance of the graves of Riflemen Jamieson and Calder is that they may have died together in the same action which is why they are buried side by side.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission have a total of 44 graves recorded for this cemetery however this does not include the civilian victims of the German Air Raids or the personel who are recorded on family grave stones.
Denis Henderson Rankin was flying from Lossiemouth, Scotland in Wellington HF816 when it crashed in the Cairngorms at An Lurg with the loss of all crew.
Flight Sergeant George Furney D.F.M. was in 84 Squadron R.A.F. based at Habbaniyah, Iraq and was on a reconnaissance sortie in Blenheim IV L9316 when the aircraft was shot down by a Vichy French MS. 406 with the loss of all three crew members.
Here are the Headstones of two Royal Air Force Aircraftsmen.
John Graham Logan was serving with 949 Balloon Squadron whilst Hugh Beattie was serving with 2738 Squadron, R.A.F. Regiment who were involved in operating Light Anti-Aircraft Guns in the Eastbourne Area.
Walter Stewart was Forth Engineer Officer on the ship S.S. Shelbrit 1 when it was sunk by a mine explosion.
John Andrew Martin was a 51 years old Civilian. He lived with his wife Annie at 27 Percy Street, Belfast and died in his own home when it was bombed by the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) on the night of 15/16 April 1941.
Whitehouse, Our Ladies Acre Roman Catholic Cemetery
Fusilier Edward Walsh, Service Number 7045754, was serving with Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers when he died on 11th February 1942.
Guardsman Gerald Murray, Service Number 2719641, was serving with 2nd Battalion, Irish Guards when he died on 17th September 1940.
V.E. Day Celebrations at Glenwood Street / Shankill Road
The area has changed considerably however this is a comparrison photograph of the same location being the junction of Glenwood Street and Shankill Road.
(Old photograph comes from Belfastlive.co.uk)
William Harbinson - The Man in the Mural below!
William John Harbinson was from Bentinck Street, Belfast.
He had joined the Royal Ulster Rifles in 1929 and served in Egypt, Palestine and Hong Kong before leaving however with Britain becoming involved in the Second World War he re-enlisted with the Regiment which was in Belfast at the time being the Royal Welch Regiment and became Private 7011184.
Billy was fighting in Crete as an acting Regimental Sergeant Major however after being wounded he was taken prisoner and found himself in seven various P.O.W. Camps around Germany including Berlin.
With his continuous refusal to cooperate with his captors and escaping from one P.O.W. Camp Prisoner 12642, as he had then became, was sent to Prisoner of War Camp Oflag IV-C near Leipzig which is better known as Colditz Castle.
He wrote numerous letters home to his beloved wife during his incarceration in German P.O.W. Camps.
In his first letter from Colditz, Billy spoke of his first impressions of the world's most famous POW camp. "Once more my travels take me to another camp. The whys and wherefores have been concealed. This is just another stepping stone nearer my goal" he wrote.
"The most unfortunate part of my extensive travelling us that my letters take such a long time reaching me and in regards to parcels `least said soonest mended'.
"This camp is quite out of the running from any other that I - have been to. It is an old castle situated on the side of an old world country village which always appears to be asleep. At least that's the view presented to me from the window of my room. "There are quite a few well-known personalities here and no doubt you would be surprised if I disclosed their names but far the present their anonymity must remain complete.
"I still love you as much as ever my darling and am hoping to see you soon."
On 15th August 1945 his wife received a Telegram from Billy saying that he would be arriving in Larne the following Thursday morning!
Billy never really spoke of his actions other than saying about the Germans "They didn't like what I did to their railway lines."
He died a few days before what would have been his 92nd Birthday and the Royal Ulster Rifles gave him a Military funeral complete with pipes and bugles
The photograph which was taken of Billy at Colditz can be seen on the Second World War mural at Seymour Hill which is shown below.
This display relating to Billy can be seen in the Royal Ulster Rifles Museum in Belfast. (Thanks very much for Information and photographs to Stevie Kerr. Also Lisburn.com)
Seymour Hill Mural
This mural at Hornbeam Road was officially dedicated on 1st July 2009 by Colonel Robin Charley as documented in the brass plaque on the Mural.