The Second World War in Northern Ireland

The Second World War in Northern Ireland

Greater Belfast Part 6

Robert Lemon from Belfast.

Telegraphist P/WRX 476 Royal Naval Volunteer (Wireless) Reserve was 30 years old and the Son of John and Ellen Lemon from Sydenham, Belfast.
His Father, John, was originally from Comber and had served with 2nd Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.
Telegraphist Robert Lemon was serving aboard H.M.S. Janus and had seen action in the Mediterranean Sea around Europe and Africa.
H.M.S. Janus was heavily involved in the bombardment of Anzio before and during the landings however on 23rd January 1944 she was hit by what is believed to have been a German "Fritz X" bomb and sunk within 20 minutes.
Robert Lemon is remembered on Portsmouth War Memorial. (Thanks very much to John Lemon)

Foxglove Street / Beersbridge Road

Second World War Airborne Forces mural. 

The portrait at the top is that of Major-General Stanislaw F. Sosabowski of the Polish Airborne Forces who took part in "Operation Market-Garden" at Arnhem.

W.O.2 (S.S.M.) William J Parkes, Irish Guards, Belfast

Warrant Officer 2nd Class, Staff Sergeant Major William John Parkes was the Son of Joseph and Esther W. Parkes from Belfast.
He was Commander of a Sherman Tank of 3 Troop, 2nd Battalion, Irish Guards advancing as part of Operation Market Garden when his tank was knocked out by a Panzerfaust.
William Parkes was shot and killed as he tried to escape the tank. 

(Thanks very much to Steve Parkes, Afterthebattle and

Lance Corporal McCluskey from Belfast

A 17 Pdr Anti-Tank Gun with part of its Protection Troop entrenched under the barrel!
Left to right are Lance Corporal McCluskey from Belfast, Rifleman Nelson from County Down and Lance Corporal Kerr from County Tyrone.
Photograph was taken on 17th May 1944. (IWM Picture)

Thomas Servis, from Belfast, served on H.M.S. Illustrious.

Thomas was born in 1918 and joined the Royal Navy in 1934.

He joined the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious when she was commissioned in 1940.
The ship joined the Mediterranean Fleet and on 11th November 1940 and took part in the attack on the Italian Fleet at Taranto sinking and badly damaging 3 battleships and other vessels.
On 10th January 1941 H.M.S. Illustrious was attacked by a large number of Stuka JU87 dive bombers receiving 6 direct hits and a large number of near misses.
The steering was damaged and her speed was reduced to 15 knots.
With 126 of the Crew killed and a further 91 injured Illustrious made her way to Malta for temporary repairs before been sent to the USA for permanent repair.
When the ship was being repaired its Air Crew and a large number of gunners, including Tommy were put ashore.

For the next few months these men operated 25 Pounder Field Guns in the defence of Malta.

It is believed that Tommy later joined HMS Repulse and was on board when the ship was sunk in the South China Sea on 10th December 1941.

Tommy is seen second from the left in the large group photograph and in the centre of the group of three.
He survived the war and served with the Belfast Fire Brigade retiring in 1972. He passed away in 1985. (Thanks very much to Tommy Servis)

American Equipment arriving in Belfast

American Tanks and Equipment arriving in Belfast. Tanks are shown above in the well deck (Imperial War Museum Photographs)

This selection of photographs was taken on 14th May 1942.

Pollock Dock, Belfast

These two photographs show H.M.S. Bazeley and her Crew in Pollock Dock, Belfast. 

(From the excellent website

I am including the photograph below left as a comparison picture with those relating to Pollock Dock. In the group photograph directly above you can see a large building on the left - My colour photograph is taken from the landward rather than seaward side and this building can be seen on the right.

The positions of the various large sheds remain the same however these have been updated.

This is United States Navy Subchaser SC718 being unloaded by a floating crane from the Liberty Ship Willard Hall in Pollock Dock, Belfast on 7th October 1943.

(For more information visit

The United States Army Signal Corps photographs above are from the National Archive and illustrate the lashings and cradle which were used to hold SC718 securely as the Liberty Ship Willard Hall crossed the Atlantic Ocean.

The four United States Army Signal Corps photographs below are from the National Archive and show the 120 Ton Floating Crane operating at Pollock Dock.

This is S.S. Seatrain Texas which has docked at Pollock Dock, Belfast on 26th October 1943 with a deckload of Jeeps. (This photograph is from which is available to Everyone)

H.M.S. Duckworth in Belfast

H.M.S. Duckworth was the Senior Officers Ship of 3rd Escort Group, arriving in Belfast flying the Jolly Roger signalling the successful sinking of U-Boats. 

Some of the H.M.S. Duckworth Crew are shown below with their Flag. The Duckworth was a Captain Class ship and the flag shows three U-Boats to show the sinking of the 3 enemy vessels while the check pattern on the left of the flag is the sign of 3rd Escort Group. (Imperial War Museum Photographs)

The Officers of H.M.S. Duckworth in Belfast on 11th April 1945. (I.W.M. Photograph)

The smiling Ships company of H.M.S. Duckworth in Belfast. (I.W.M. Photograph)

H.M.S. Gore, H.M.S. Balfour, H.M.S. Garlies and H.M.S. Affleck in Belfast on 30th March 1944 (I.W.M. Picture)

Commanding Officers of the First Escort Group.

Lieutenant J.K. Reeves Brown, Royal Navy, of Simla, India of H.M.S. Gore, Lieutenant R.L. Caple, D.S.C., Royal Navy, from Harrow, Middlesex, of H.M.S. Garlies, Commander C. Gwinner D.S.O., D.S.C., Royal Navy from Guildford, Surrey of H.M.S. Affleck. (I.W.M. Photograph)

H.M.S. Affleck in Belfast

The Prime Minister of Northern Ireland with Lady Brooke, Commander C Gwinner D.S.O. D.S.C. Royal Navy with Captain T.J. Borrett O.B.E. on the Bridge of H.M.S. Affleck

Ships Companies of the First Escort Group listening to the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, Lord Brookeborough who is speaking to them from the bridge of H.M.S. Affleck on 30th March 1944. (I.W.M. Photograph)

L.B. Phipps (Gunner) of Plymouth, who has a son shakes hands with Surgeon Lieutenant A.K. Mighton, R.N.V.R. from Hamilton, Ontario who has a Daughter.

They both serve on H.M.S. Affleck. (I.W.M. Picture)

Three members of the Engine room Crew of H.M.S. Affleck.

Left to right - Stoker P.O. A.A. Clayton from Saddleworth, Yorkshire, Acting P.O. R.H. Croucher from Aldershot and Stoker J. Smith from Greetland, Yorkshire.

Photographed in Belfast on 30th March 1944 (I.W.M. Photograph)

King George VI and The Queen visit Belfast Docks

Preparations are under way for the arrival of the Royal Couple with Officers and Senior Public Representatives gathering at the Dock.

With Soldiers on Parade and a large number of local Workers gathering the ship approached the dock.

H.M.S. Phoebe is assisted by 2 Tugs. Note the Sunderland Flying Boat in the background. (Life Magazine photographs)

The Royal Couple arrive in Belfast on Board H.M.S, Phoebe. (I.W.M. and Life Magazine Photographs)

The photographs above show the arrival of the royal Party and the King inspecting the Guard of Honour (I.W.M. and Life Magazine Photographs)

The Cruiser H.M.S. Phoebe with King George VI and Queen Elizabeth on board comes alongside the quay at Belfast on 24th June 1942.

The Queen inspects Womens Royal Naval Service (W.R.N.S. or "Wrens") at Belfast Docks on 26th June 1942. 

The King and Queen with Royal Navy Personnel. (I.W.M. Photographs)

The King with Rear Admiral R.M. King D.S.O. (I.W.M. Photograph)

The King and Queen visit The Missions to Seamen Pollock Club near Pollock Dock in Belfast.

There are a variety of uniforms on show with two Royal Air Force airmen at the right of the picture and a Royal Ulster Constabulary Police Officer immediately to the right of the king. (I.W.M. Photograph)

The Queen inspects Sea Cadets in Belfast. (I.W.M. Photograph)

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth on board the S.S. Duchess of Abercorn in Belfast.

(This photograph is from Western Maryland Regional Library at

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth on Duchess of Abercorn in Belfast.

The SS Dutchess of Abercorn had been built by Harland and Wolff and was completed on 17th March 1936.

It was used as a Ferry for Belfast Harbour Commisioners.

The middle photograph shows the king signing the Ship's Visitor Book.

(All of the above are I.W.M. Photographs)

Defensive Sangar at Donegal Quay

Shown here is a Defensive Sangar constructed with sandbags beside the Belfast Harbour Commissioners at Donegall Quay. (Belfast Telegraph Picture)

Harland and Wolff Shipbuilding

Old Harland and Wolff building which is now the Titanic Hotel

One of the old Painted 'Fire Hydrant' markers which can still be seen around the Harbour Estate.

Harland and Wolff Shipyard and production of two new Carriers, H.M.S. Magnificent (On the left of the three) and H.M.S. Powerful in the centre with a Cruiser on the Stocks to the right.  (I.W.M. Photograph)

H.M.S. Campania. Built in Belfast and saw active service in the Atlantic and Arctic theatres. (Royal Navy Photograph)

This picture shows some of the original Harland and Wolff Gates.

Shown here is a list of the ships built by Harland & Wolff in Belfast

1939 - 3, 1940 - 30, 1941 - 22, 1942 - 21, 1943 - 29, 1944 - 23, 1945 - 17

These ships went in size from the 227 ton Twin Screw Motor Landing Craft up to 28095 ton Aircraft Carrier "Formidable"

H.M.S. FORMIDABLE - The ship that launched itself!

I have mentioned above that the Aircraft Carrier H.M.S. Formidable was built by Harland and Wolff however there is more to this story!

The ship was to be launched by Lady Wood who was the wife of the Secretary Of State for War Sir Kingsley Wood in the East Yard.

About half an hour before the designated time for launch the Harland & Wolff Chairman and Managing Director  Mr F.E. Rebbeck was explaining to Mrs Wood how the launching mechanism would operate when there was a loud cracking of wood.

Suddenly the ship started to move and Lady Wood ran forward to smash the bottle on the ships bow before it slid out of reach.

This was a serious situation and workers had to jump to safety out of the way of the ship as lumps of wood from the keel blocks went flying through the air killing one woman spectator with a blow to the head and injuring a number of others in the crowd of thousands who had turned up to watch the launch.

Shown below are a few of the Ships which were built by Harland and Wolff

All of the vessels shown above were used as Troopships during the Second World War

Guns, Aircraft and Tanks being produced by Harland and Wolff in Belfast

Manufacture of Guns and Tanks at Harland and Wolff Shipyard, Belfast.

The Four photographs above show Tank Production by Harland and Wolff (Thanks very much to Robert C for permission to use these photographs)

Bristol Bombay Aircraft. The Bombay was developed by Bristol as a transport with a secondary bombing role. Bristol didn't have the capacity to build the 80 that were ordered so the construction was sub-contracted to Short and Harland. Due to it virtually being obsolete by the time it entered service the final thirty were cancelled and only 51 built.

(Thanks to Tony Osborne)

Belfast Harbour Area Civil Defence Officers July 1942.

Ulster Home Guard Belfast Harbour Motor Boat Patrol

As can be seen from the photograph the "Belfast harbour Motor Boat Patrol" was part of the Ulster Home Guard and served between June 1940 and December 1944.

Inspection is always important before you board the boat and check the engine (IWM Pictures)

Belfast Harbour Police Ulster Home Guard

(Picture above from NIWM those below the person did not want identified)

Royal Navy Submarine H.M.S. Osiris leaving Belfast

H.M.S. Osiris is seen here leaving Belfast.

She spent virtually all of the War Years on active service in the Mediterranean Sea. (I.W.M. Picture)

U.S.S. Mason in Belfast Lough

During the Second World War the U.S. Armed Forces were subject to Racial Segregation.

Unique within the U.S. Navy was the ship U.S.S. Mason which had an all black Crew.

It had been  commissioned by President Roosevelt to offer African-American Sailors the opportunity to serve their country.

The  Mason escorted Convoy CK-3 from The Azores to the United Kingdom and the Ships Deck Log dated 24th July 1944 records U.S.S. Mason  “Moored port side to R.F.A. Serbol in Bangor Harbour” (The Serbol was the Ship which shelled Bangor!)

Later the same day at 16.34 , with Pilot R.W. Craig aboard, Mason entered the Channel to Belfast Harbour.

The War Diary  states  24th July 1944. Screening Clyde section of Convoy CK-3 bound from Charleston South Carolina to United Kingdom ports in company with U.S.S. Stern.

At 03.00 parted company with Convoy and proceeded to Belfast with Stern.

Arrived Belfast Lough 07.50 , fueled and provisions taken. Liberty granted to one half ship’s Company at 18.30.

The photograph above shows U.S.S. Mason during WW2. (N.A.R.A.)

Here are some of the Crew of U.S.S. Mason in the Boston Navy Yard on 20th March 1944 and on the right Crew Members are seen wearing their "Dress Blues" in New York Harbour. (National Archive and pictures)

Seventy Two years later the current U.S.S. Mason visited Belfast for several days in December 2017 and is shown in my photograph.

French Destroyers Leaving Belfast

French Destroyers Leopard and Panthere shown at the mouth of Belfast Port in 1939. (Imperial War Museum photographs)

Malone Avenue Auxiliary Fire Station

This building is standing where there was an Auxiliary Fire Service station during WW2.

The building to the right, which is shown below, dates from 1934.

These are the Auxiliary Fire Service Men who were based at "Ranger Hall" on Malone Avenue which is now the Church shown above.

On 15th April 1941 these men were called 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 3 Section for the scene of the Explosion.

Lower Windsor Avenue, Belfast.

Old photograph showing people passing Air Raid Shelters on their way to the Windsor Park Foodball Stadium along Windsor Avenue.

Ammunition Jetty and Dufferin Dock

The photographs above show the arrival of Lockheed P-38 Lightning Aircraft in Belfast.

You can see a Lightning being lowered from USS Delmorte onto a waiting carrier by U.S. Soldiers and Lockheed Aviation Corporation workers at Dufferin Docks on 25th November 1942.

The damaged Lockheed P-38 Lightning on part of an Assault Barge was brought in to Dufferin Dock, Belfast.

Both the aircraft and Assault Barge were damaged when the ship they were on was torpedoed.

Both were found floating and were towed 300 miles to Belfast. Photographed on 25th November 1942. 

The photographs above show a Lockheed Lightning being unloaded from a ship and after being secured on the Lorry as shown it would have been taken to Langford Lodge for assembly. (These photographs are from which is available to Everyone)

Republic P-47 Thunderbolt Fighter Aircraft arriving at Ammunition Jetty.

In one of the photographs you can clearly see the Shorts Aircraft Factory at Airport Road with 2 Sunderland Flying Boats sitting at the jetty.

(The above photograph is from which is available to Everyone)

This was the wharf at Airport Road West within the Harbour Estate area.

It was here that, during the Second World War, a huge amount of military supplies and equipment was off loaded from the ships which brought it across the Atlantic Ocean from the United States.

The pictures here show P-47 Thunderbolt aircraft being unloaded from the Oil Tanker "G. Harrison Smith" in August 1943. P-51 Mustang Aircraft are also shown following their arrival on 5th June 1944.

The Plan of the Jetty is shown below.

All photographs above are from Imperial War Museum or Fold 3 which is available to all at

Belfast on 7th September 1943 and a cargo of P-47 Thunderbolts are being unloaded from U.S.S. Block Island. (From which is available to everyone)

This is U.S.S. Block Island arriving in Belfast on 7th September 1943 with a cargo of P-47 Thunderbolts which were unloaded in the record time of 14 Hours!

The Tug is Empire Meadow. (From which is available to everyone)

U.S.S. Block Island arriving in Belfast. (From Naval Warfare Blogspot)

Here are some Lockheed P-47Thunderbolt aircraft being unloaded at Ammunition Jetty from U.S.S. Block Island in July 1943.

Sydenham Airfield is to the right of where the unloading is taking place.

Below are pictures of USS Block Island at sea with her deck loaded with Aircraft and Lightning Aircraft having been delivered waiting for assembly.

(For more information visit

Seatrain Texas is shown in Belfast on the left with the Movement Card on the right (National Archive pictures)

Above you can see the Site Plan of the Musgrave Channel Borings for the construction of what was to become Ammunition Jetty at Belfast Naval Base.

The jetty position is shown in the plan on the right.

My photographs are taken from across the Musgrave Channel towards the Jetty and on the right is the old concrete road immediately beside the jetty.

The rails shown above can still be seen at the Jetty.

(Three pictures above from PRONI)

Restored North American P-51 Mustang Aircraft

Among the large number of Aircraft which arrived by Ship from the United States was the North American P-51 Mustang.

In the photographs above you can see the Mustang fighters arriving in Kit form. - They were subsequently made air worthy in Northern Ireland and flown to onward destinations to carry the fight to Occupied Europe.

I am including the photographs below to show what a fully functioning Mustang looked like. I took these photographs at Newtownards Airfield in 2016.

Troopships Moving To and From Belfast

Belfast Port was very busy throughout the years of the Second World War.
Following the introduction of the United States to the War movement of Troopships increased.
There were a considerable number of such ships using Belfast and those shown below are just a small number.

(The Information shown above has been obtained from the United States Army)

Killed During The Belfast Blitz

Able Seaman Frank Mundy Coombs was killed by Enemy Action.

Ordinary Seaman James Taylor, from Newfoundland, was serving with the Royal Navy. Interestingly the headstone says "Known to be buried in this cemetery"

The only other time I have seen this is in WW1 Cemeteries where the serviceman had been buried and then the grave was destroyed in later battles. - Strange.

Private Arthur Henry Holton was serving with the Royal Army Ordnance Corps.  Marine Thomas Douglas Harvey was killed during the Bombing.

Private Ross was serving with 9th Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment whilst Captain Ronald Victor Kingston is on the "General List" meaning he is not attached to any specific Regiment.

2nd Lieutenant Edward William Cobble was serving with the East Surrey Regiment while Warrant Officer First Class Henry Phillips was with the 1st Airborne Battalion, Royal Ulster Rifles.

Aircraftsman Anthony Myer Silverman was with the Royal Air Force while Able Seaman Samuel Corry served on H.M.S. Quebec. He died in the Percy Street Air Raid Shelter disaster along with his Wife Martha (27 years) and daughter Elizabeth (10 Months)

With Military Casualties not usually being listed as with Civilians I believe it is important to have these details included here.

Woodvale Presbyterian Church

This Church is at the junction of Woodvale Road and Ballygomartin Road with this Memorial Stone on the Woodvale Road side of the Clock Tower. 

Wellington Place

Lt Homer Jones and Lt George Lamm of 508 Parachute Infantry Regiment, U.S. Army in Wellington Place, Belfast. (From

Visit for much more! (Ghost photograph by Adam Surrey)

Donegal Square North

The first photograph shows an American Serviceman standing beside an Austin 6 with a Gas Bag on the roof while my picture shows the same position today.

(This picture comes from the Motor Life blog which is available to EVERYONE at

Donegal Square West

The first picture shows Czech Military Band marching in front of soldiers of the Gloucester Regiment beside Belfast City Hall on 14th December 1942.

(Imperial War Museum photograph)

S.S. Nomadic

Many people with an interest in the S.S. Titanic will be aware of the S.S. Nomadic which I have photographed here.

The Nomadic was used to transport passengers to the doomed Titanic however Nomadic was also involved in service during WW2.

On 18th June 1940 Nomadic took part in the evacuation of Cherbourg, which is shown below, and was subsequently requisitioned by the Royal Navy.

Being based in Portsmouth she was used as a Troop Ship as well as being used for Coastal Patrol and the laying of Mines!

(For more information see the Old Belfast Photographs Facebook site)

Clonard Monastery

With the small number of Air Raid shelters being available around Belfast women and children from the Falls Road area were permitted to use the buildings crypt as an air raid shelter during the Belfast Blitz.
The nearby Falls Road Baths was used as a Mortuary for the dead during the raids.

Immanuel Church, Ardoyne Parish

These Lists of names can be seen in Immanuel Church, Ardoyne Parish. They list all of the parishoners who served in the Second World War with those who were killed being names within the laurel wreath. (Thanks very much to Brian Reid)

Some Air Raid Precautions Related Sites

I have used the excellent Book "Post 381" by James Doherty to trace a few of the Locations which were used in connection with A.R.P. duties during the Blitz on Belfast.

The title "Post 381" refers to the building which was used as a base by the A.R.P. Wardens. It was 21 Cranburn Street and is shown above left.

Post 372 was in the Macrory Memorial Hall in Hillman Street which you can see above.

Barron Hall on the Antrim Road which was used as a Rest Centre during the Belfast Blitz. 

(Photographs left and above left are from Google)