James Magennis Plaque
This plaque refers to Leading Seaman James Magennis from Belfast who won the Victoria Cross - The Highest military honour during the Second World War - More details below.
American Troops 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 http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/)
V Corps American Troops arriving in Belfast in January 1942.
Picture from http://www.eucom.mil/
Dock Workers in Belfast give the Americans a welcome with Churchill's V for Victory sign.
(From the "Home Away From Home" Book)
This picture is from War Illustrated Magazine and shows that "Old Glory Flies in Ireland" as soldiers arrive in Belfast Docks on 26th January 1942.
Here the troops are setting foot in Belfast. The picture is from the United States Army Photographic Record while the following three are Belfast Telegraph pictures of the same event.
This picture shows Duncrue Street at the Spencer Basin.
Being greeted by Belfast Children.
This picture shows 34th Infantry Division soldiers arriving in Belfast on 26th January 1942 and marching from the Docks to the nearby railway station.
(From the website http://www.army.mil/article/33484/ which is available to EVERYONE)
American soldiers of 34th Infantry Division enjoying a cup of Tea and some Sandwiches on their arrival in Belfast.
(From the website http://www.army.mil/article/33484/ which is available to EVERYONE)
Soon after arrival many American Troops found themselves in Accommodation such as this which was photographed on 24th February 1942.
This picture dates from January 1942 and shows American Servicemen taking part in a Lifeboat Drill on board a ship destined for Northern Ireland.
As with the previous photograph this U.S. Army Signal Corps photograph shows U.S. Personnel on route to Northern Ireland. This particular photograph is dated 19 / 20 January 1942.
Photographs from "Life" taken in January 1942 showing United States Army personnel from the American Expeditionary Forces in Whitla Street, Belfast shaking hands with a Dispatch Rider who is riding a BSA M20.
Private Milburn Henke settles in and is seen here reading the Stars and Stripes.
(From the book "Home Away From Home")
Parade and Inspection at City Hall
General Eisenhower inspects Royal Air Force personel outside Belfast City Hall with the same scene as it looks today.
Here we have a picture looking towards Donegall Square West showing American soldiers marching past the front of Belfast City Hall.
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. - Shown here is the Second World War Roll of Honour.
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.
Drumglass House, Marlborough Park South, Belfast was used during WW2 by the Government for Postal Censorship.
It is now part of Victoria College.
General Eisenhower in front of Parliament Buildings, Stormont. (Picture from Northern Ireland in the Second World War)
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, traces of which can still be seen on the building.
There was also an airraid shelter within the bushes to the right of the main building however unfortunately this has been removed.
The pictures here (From "The Blitz" by Brian Barton and "After The Battle magazine) show the Massey Avenue gate of the Stormont Estate. The top photograph has 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.
This Luftwaffe Bomb Crater can be found on entering the estate from Upper Newtownards Road and taking the first path on the left. After a short walk you will see the sign.
(Information above from "The War Illustrated")
Stormont Buildings were protected during the war with the use of large Barrage Balloons and here are barrage balloon anchorage points which can be seen approximately 3/4 of the way up Prince of Wales Avenue from the main Upper Newtownards Road entrance. They are to the right of the avenue beside public toilets and have a sign beside them giving some information regarding the Senate Chamber within Stormont having been used by the Royal Air Force as a Plotting Room for Number 82 Group Fighter Command.
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.
United States Military Cemetery, Lisnabreeny
Shown here is the Entrance Gate to what was the United States Military Cemetery at Lisnabreeny.
Found at the top of Rocky Road this cemetery was established on 2nd December 1943 and I have seen mention of either 142 or 148 burials having taken place.
Shown here is the Memorial Stone which was at the Site prior to Re-Development.
All the remains were exhumed in 1948 following the close of the cemetery in November 1947 and were reburied in the United States or England.
As can be seen in the second photograph a seat and memorial stone are now at the location along with some poppy wreaths Lest We Forget.
The two photographs above are from Fold 3 which is available to EVERYONE below:-https://www.fold3.com/s.php#query=Northern+Ireland&preview=1&t=495
The picture here shows the Quartermaster Gasoline Supply Company in the top left - This is shown in more detail above. To the right of the camp can be seen the circular construction of an Anti-Aircraft Battery with 4 positions for its large guns. Nothing of this remains.
In the field below the road which passes from left to right can be seen the clearly defined cemetery for American Personel. In the top left corner of the field was a hut used by personel who maintained the cemetery with a pathway to the Camp on the opposite side of the road however nothing now remains.
This picture of the crosses of American graves is fronted by that of Colonel Joseph Stuart of the General Staff Corps who died on 28th February 1944. Thanks to Jill and Greg for the pictures.
The picture above (as seen in After The Battle Magazine) shows a Burial Ceremony taking place at Lisnabreeny on 6th May 1944 while below is the same location as it looks today with the City of Belfast behind.
This old Black and White photograph has been taken within the United States Military Cemetery in approximately the same position as my colour photograph.
Back row left to right are Kathleen and Mary Close with Evelyn Barnes.
The front row is American Soldier Don Fluge, Beth Smith, Ann Close and American Soldier Melton Hale.
For more please visit http://www.geograph.ie/photo/3439261 which is the Jim Kane Page on the Geograph website and is available to EVERYONE.
The two pictures above show the new Memorial which was erected at the site of the Cemetery in the Summer of 2013.
These are the lists of the names of those who were buried at Lisnabreeny.
Crumlin Road Gaol
Crumlin Road Gaol was built in 1845 with the design being based on that of Pentonville Prison in London.
In 1940 the prison ship "Al Rawdah" was moored in Strangford Lough near Killyleagh to hold prisoners who were being interned during the war however the prisoners were transferred to Crumlin Road Gaol in 1941.
During the same year 5 prisoners escaped when a portion of the perimeter wall was destroyed during an air raid.
At first some of the prisoners refused to avail of the Air Raid shelters, due to their republican beliefs, which were provided within the prison. As the air raids intensified Prison Officers were positioned on the roof of the building to direct fire teams to numerous incendiaries which were falling.
The prison has now been closed from the holding of prisoners since 1996 and is now a recommended tourist attraction.
The final photograph here shows the famous Tunnel which runs under the Crumlin Road from the Prison to the Courthouse and through which Prisoners were taken for their Trial.
Belfast City Airport
This photograph shows Sydenham Airfield. You can clearly see Ammunition Jetty alongside which is U.S.S. Bogue (CVE-9) which was a U.S. Navy Escort Carrier. (For more information visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bogue-class_escort_carrier)
What is now Belfast City Airport was previously Royal Air Force Station Sydenham and Royal Naval Air Yard Belfast.
Work on what was to be Belfast Harbour Airport was finished in 1938 with the official opening by Mrs Neville Chamberlain on 16th March of that year.
A Hawker Sea Hurricane of the Merchant Ship Fighter Unit, on the catapult aboard a CAM ship (Catapult Armed Merchantman) (I.W.M. Photograph)
At the start of the Second World War the airport became R.A.F. Sydenham and was used for training purposes by both the Air Force and Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy who took control of the now Royal Naval Air Yard Belfast in 1943.
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.
Royal Air Force Stirling Bombers at Sydenham.
Fleet Air Arm aircraft at Sydenham on 15th November 1939. (IWM Photo)
The memorial shown above can be seen at the covered walkway between the main terminal and car park.
This Spitfire Mk1 is shown at Sydenham. The photograph is believed to date from around 29th July 1939 when an Air Display had taken place at Sydenham and the Squadron Identification Code letters relate to 72 Squadron R.A.F. who were based at Church Fenton.
For more information see http://forum.keypublishing.com/
The wording is as follows :- "In memory of the men of 804 and 702 Naval Air Squadrons, Based at Sydenham, Belfast between March 1941 and July 1942 which operated Fairey Fulmar and Hawker Sea Hurricane Fighter aircraft from CAM-ships (Catapult Armed Merchantmen) on convoy defence duties during the Battle of The Atlantic"
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.
You can see that there would have been wooden bench seating along the two sides. A good example of this type of structure.
This article regarding Catapult Armed Merchantmen, or C.A.M. Ships is from "The War Illustrated"
Customs House, Belfast
The Flag Officer in Charge of the Royal Navy Operational Command in Belfast set up his Headquarters in Customs House with H.M.S. Caroline (Shown Below) becoming Northern Ireland Base depot Ship.
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.
This area has a number of items which are of interest to those of you who are Second World War history enthusiasts.
This ship had been H.M.S. Caroline until only recently when she was decommissioned. Until then Caroline had been the oldest Royal Navy ship which remained afloat. The keel was laid on 28th January 1914 and she saw active service from December 1914 including action in The Battle of Jutland.
During the Second World War she acted as a Depot Ship and administrative centre for Convoy Escorts and Armed Trawlers. 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.
The headstone shown here is that of Lieutenant Commander (S), George Ellis of H.M.S. Caroline. He is buried in Bangor New Cemetery, County Down.
Beside Caroline are these old Sea Mines and Gun. - I believe these are possibly British Mk14 Mines.
This wall mural shows H.M.S. Caroline in action at the Battle of Jutland during the First World War. It can be seen at St Aubin Street, Belfast.
Air Raid Shelter
A short distance from "The Oval" is the building shown above which is at the junction of Connsbank Road and Airport Road facing the entrance to the Bombardier / Shorts Aircraft factory.
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!
In a position where there was considerable damage during Luftwaffe raids this building will be seen by anyone using the Belfast Sight Seeing Busses as they visit the Harland and Wolff and Short Brothers factories.
*****UNFORTUNATELY THIS AIR RAID SHELTER WAS DEMOLISHED AND TOTALLY ERASED FROM THE LANDSCAPE IN APRIL 2014*****
The Royal Air Force had a Unit known as 226 Maintainance Unit based at Mallusk where they were involved in the salvaging of crashed aircraft. They had a Repair And Salvage Centre at Aldergrove and the Unit was disbanded on 30th April 1946.
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.
It says "The scars on this stone were caused in the German Air raids of the Second World War. Despite severe damage to the building the 'Belfast Telegraph' was published without interuption.
The damage is clearly visible. Old photographs can be found showing the devastation around the area of Royal Avenue / North Street.
The Belfast Telegraph and Belfast Central Library buildings both showing Bomb Damage and how the same location looks today.
Leading Seaman James M. Magennis V.C.
Only a few paces from the United States Armed Forces memorial is another similar sized one to Leading Seaman James M. Magennis who, through his actions against the japanese in Singapore, was awarded the Victoria Cross which is the highest military honour and can be equated to the Congressional Medal of Honor.
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.
Below is the citation for the award of Victoria Cross to James Magennis:-
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. James Magennis and Ian Fraser.
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 immediately above shows the Presentation to Seaman Magennis of £3000 "Shilling Fund" which was raised by the Citizens of Belfast.
The Right Honorable Lord Mayor Sir Crawford McCullough is making the Presentation.
A Telegram of Congratulations from Basil Brooke.
A letter sent to his Mother by The Admiralty regarding his Actions and Victoria Cross.
As well as the memorial at Belfast City Hall the mural shown here can be seen at Kings Road, Belfast where it was unveiled on the 60th Anniversary of V.J. Day on 16th September 2005.
This is the Magennis V.C. Memorial at City Hall.
The wording on the rear of the Memorial explaining his Actions.
This is a building which will be of interest to most visitors to the city however concentrating on the Second World War there are a few points of note.
The grounds of City Hall contain the cenotaph where there is a Service of Remembrance each year on 11th November.
At the main entrance to the grounds is the momument (Shown here) marking the landing of United States military personnel in Northern Ireland.
The first American soldier to officially arrive in the United Kingdom was Private First Class Milburn H. Henke from Hutchinson, Minnesota. He was a member of B Company, 133rd Infantry who disembarked from a ship at Dufferin Dock, Belfast. This dock has now been subjected to reclaimation as the Harbour Estate has been developed however there are other items of note in the docks area.
The stained glass window shown here can be seen in the main hallway where it marks the efforts of the men of the North Irish Horse regiment of the British Army.
No visit to the City Hall is complete without taking the walking tour around the building which was seriously damaged by German Bombers during "The Blitz".
The picture above shows damage after the bombing and below you can see the same room after repairs.
You will be able to see a painting of a previous Belfast Lord Mayor which was seriously damaged during the blitz and has been left as it was as a reminder of those terrible days.
Here you can see the bomb damage to the roof of the building. (Pictures from Belfast Telegraph) and how it looks now following repair.
The final picture above shows a March Past at the unveiling of the Memorial to the United States Forces arriving in Northern Ireland. (From "Home Away From Home" Book)
The gentleman on the right of this picture is Private First Class Milburn H Henke of Company B, 1st Battalion, 133d Infantry Regiment, 34th Infantry Division United States Army who was officially the first American Soldier to land in the United Kingdom when he stepped off H.M.T.S. Strathaird at Dufferin Quay in Belfast on 26th January 1942.
This picture is from "Yanks in Ireland" when Mr Henke returned to Belfast in the early 1990's and is seen beside the American Memorial at Belfast city Hall. - For more see http://ww2ni.webs.com/countylondonderrypt4.htm
Brigadier General Edmund W Hill, commanding General US Forces in Northern Ireland, (left) presents a check of one hundred and ninety three pounds, seven shillings and eight pence to Air Vice Marshall Stevenson, Royal Air Force.
The donation was from US Forces stationed in Northern Ireland to the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund. The Proceeds were from an American baseball game played in Northern Ireland 14 August 1943.
The presentation took place in Belfast City Hall.
Picture from http://www.americanairmuseum.com/media/12050
Here is the Civil Defence Flag and a Plaque honouring the names of the 34 Members of the Belfast Civil Defence Services who were Killed during Air Raids on Belfast in April and May 1941.
This is another Memorial to Belfast Corporation employees who lost their lives during WW2.
This Burma Star Association plaque is on a wooden seat in the main Hallway of Belfast City Hall. It was presented by Admiral the Right Honorable The Earl Mountbatten of Burma.
This is a picture of A night Attack on Enemy Shipping by a Halifax aircraft of 502 Squadron in Skaggerak during 1944 - 1945 and was presented to Belfast City Council by 502 (Ulster) City of Belfast Squadron Auxiliary Air Force Old Comrades Association on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of Mobilisation for World War 2.
If you are visiting Belfast I strongly suggest you avail of one of the Tours of Belfast City Hall - It is Well Worth The Visit!
Crowds celebrating "Victory in Europe" Day outside City Hall.
(Belfast Telegraph photograph)
Musgrave Park Hospital
This is part of Musgrave Park Hospital in South Belfast which was taken over on 21st May 1942 by 5th General Hospital, U.S. Army. - It had previously been operated by the 31st British General Hospital who had moved into the building which had been "Balmoral Protestant Male Industrial School".
This was also a General Supply Depot known as "G-10-6"
This picture shows the Kitchen during routine meal preparation at 10th Station Hospital, Musgrave Park, Belfast.
(Picture from the Office of Medical History, United States Army)
Prisoner Of War Camp - Knock
The present site of Police Headquarters at Knock was used as a Prisoner Of War Camp however all evidence has long since been removed.
Knock Golf Club
The grounds of Knock Golf Club, on Upper Newtownards Road, Belfast were used by the Ulster Home Guard to conduct Training Exercises.
This is the "Roll of Honour" of all the Members of Knock Golf Club who lost their lives during the Second World War.
St Georges Market - Temporary Mortuary
Much is made of the terrible blitz on the City of Coventry however, due to a lack of Air Defence and sufficient Air-raid shelters it was sadly the City of Belfast which suffered the most civilian fatalities in one raid which took place on the night of 15 - 16th April 1941.
Approximately 900 people lost their lives with 255 bodies being removed to a temporary Mortuary at St George's Market at Oxford Street / Albertbridge Road / May Street.
Of those brought to St Georges 151 were successfully identified and from this number 92 were taken by relatives and friends for burial.
The Falls Road Swiming Baths was also used as an Emergency Mortuary. The water was drained from the bath and rows of bodies were lined up for identification. - After a time when some bodies remained unidentified their personal possessions were checked and if there was any item to prove the victim was a Roman Catholic then they were interned in a Mass Grave in Milltown Cemetry. If not then they were interned in the Belfast City Cemetery. - Both of these Mass Graves are illustrated on this website.
BELFAST CITY CEMETERY
Belfast City Cemetery has 274 Commonwealth War Graves.
There is also the Mass Grave for hundreds of Belfast citizens who remained unidentified following the "Belfast Blitz" and were buried together.
The stone shown here is on a Mass Grave in Belfast City Cemetry which is on the Falls Road and there is another mass grave in the nearby Milltown Cemetery. (Which is shown in another section of this website)
The City Cemetry has a considerable number of graves of victims of the Second World War including six members of the Douglas Family whose headstone can be found at T1-211 in the Glenalina Extension and has the wording
“Emily, beloved wife of William Douglas Royal Artillery also my five children Sammy, Billie, Jim, Peggy and Sally. Died as a result of Enemy Action 16th April 1941”
Emily was 29 years old with Billie being 9 years, Peggy 5 years and Sally 1 year old. There are only 3 children buried here suggesting that no remains of the other 2- Sammy and Jim were positively identified or even found.
All these people died at 8 Ballynure Street during a German Air Raid.
To the left is the headstone of Sub Lt John Esmond Marshall of the Royal New Zealand Volunteer Reserve.
He had been based at H.M.S. Ringtail and was serving with 894 Squadron when he was killed while flying a Seafire on 13th February 1944.
The aircraft crashed into the sea south of Mew Island, which is part of the Copeland Islands.
Below left is the headstone of Flight Lt. Francis Charles Barrett D.F.C..
Barrett was serving with 108 Squadron, Royal Air Force and had been a Crew Member on board Consolidated Liberator AL-577 which was flying from Egypt back to the U.K. on 16th March 1942 when the aircraft became lost due to bad weather and subsequently crashed into Slieve na Glogh in Eire with the deaths of 15 Airmen whilst 3 survived.
Flying Officer Harold Eric Hunter was serving with 57 Squadron and was on board Wellington Bomber X3599 which crashed near the Black Stairs close to the Glen River in the Mourne Mountains on 16th March 1942.
Only the tail gunner survived the crash with 6 fatalities, one of whom was 24 years old Assistant Section Officer W.A.A.F. Barbara Blakiston-Houston who is buried in the Church of Ireland Church in Seaforde. (Also shown on this website)
Above is the final resting place of 4 Members of the Crew of H.M.S. Asturias which was sailing from Montevideo to Freetown when a torpedoed fired by the Italian Submarine Ammiraglio Cagni struck the port engine room killing these men.
Fortunately, although disabled, the ship remained afloat.
(This picture is from Ernie Cromie of Ulster Aviation Society)
This Grumman Hellcat was being flown by Sub Lieutenant Edmund John Hoy of the South African Naval Forces when it crashed near Gillespie's plant nurseries on the Holywood Road, Belfast, on April 10, 1945.
It had just taken off from Sydenham when it was seen to make a steep turn and dive into an open field.
Sub Lt Hoy was treated for his injuries at 20th General Hospital at Campbell College however he died from his injuries and his headstone is shown below.
Arthur Reginald Davis was a Wireless Operator / Air Gunner on board Bristol Beaufort (EL131) which took off at 1420 hours from Long Kesh on a training exercise. Five hours later, apparently while carrying out a steep turn to port, the aircraft crashed and burned about a mile north of Shields Corner, near Castledawson, County Londonderry, killing all 5 crew members.
Felix O'Neill was Stoker 2nd Class on H.M.S. Caroline when he drown on 14th May 1942.
H.M.S. Caroline remains to be seen in Belfast Harbour. Please see pictures above.
Sub-Lieutenant John Richard Mathers and Sub-Lieutenant William Foster, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve were serving with 887 Squadron Fleet Air Arm at Kirkistown.
On 24th November 1942 they were flying Fairey Fulmar BP821 when the aircraft lost control and crashed.
These are the headstones of 3 members of the Norwegan Merchant Navy who are buried in Belfast City Cemetery.
Dutch Merchant Marine Sailor Dirk Kranenburg who was 17 years old when he died on 10th July 1940 had been buried in the City Cemetry but was re-interred in 1964. This picture shows American Soldiers at Belfast City Cemetery. (Thanks to After The Battle Magazine) My picture below shows the same immediate area. The Americans who were buried here were subsequently moved to the American Cemetery at Lisnabreeny, which is shown above, and finally to either the American Cemetery in Cambridgeshire, England or back to the United States whichever was requested by their families. . . . Belfast Zoo As part of the Air Raid precautions which took place in Belfast all the dangerous animals which had been kept by the Zoo were killed. This was done to ensure that there was no risk of any such wild animals excaping during an Air Raid to cause further problems for the population! Also within the Zoo Complex stands the "Floral Hall" which was opened in 1936 and, with the help of blackout blinds remained open throughout the war when it was a very popular venue for both locals and Armed Forces personel. This photograph shows how the Floral Hall looked in 1946. (From the Old Belfast Facebook page) The entrance hall was painted tangerine with the main hall, which could seat 1000 people, being blue and gold. From December 1940 the Floral Hall was used to repair Barrage Balloons! . . . Park Lodge
This picture shows American Soldiers at Belfast City Cemetery. (Thanks to After The Battle Magazine)
My picture below shows the same immediate area.
The Americans who were buried here were subsequently moved to the American Cemetery at Lisnabreeny, which is shown above, and finally to either the American Cemetery in Cambridgeshire, England or back to the United States whichever was requested by their families.
As part of the Air Raid precautions which took place in Belfast all the dangerous animals which had been kept by the Zoo were killed.
This was done to ensure that there was no risk of any such wild animals excaping during an Air Raid to cause further problems for the population!
Also within the Zoo Complex stands the "Floral Hall" which was opened in 1936 and, with the help of blackout blinds remained open throughout the war when it was a very popular venue for both locals and Armed Forces personel.
This photograph shows how the Floral Hall looked in 1946.
(From the Old Belfast Facebook page)
The entrance hall was painted tangerine with the main hall, which could seat 1000 people, being blue and gold.
From December 1940 the Floral Hall was used to repair Barrage Balloons!
Park Lodge on the Antrim Road in Belfast was used as a Training Ground for members of the Northern Ireland Civil Defence.
BELFAST ZOO B-17 AIRCREW MEMORIAL Belfast Zoological Gardens is situated at the foot of Cave Hill and is accessed from Antrim Road. Visitors will find that the location is on a rather steep hill and on reaching the top there is a memorial to the crew of United States Army Air Force B-17 Flying Fortress serial number 42-97862. It was on 1st June 1944 that the aircraft was on the final leg of a ferry flight from the United States to Nutts Corner Airfield in County Antrim. The hill was enveloped in thick fog and sadly the aircraft crashed with the deaths of all those on board. The scene of the crash was secured by U.S. Military until the top secret Norden Bomb Sight was removed from the wreckage of this aircraft. Many years after the crash, in 1991, a gold ring with the names "Lawrence and Ruth" etched on it was found at the crash site. After 3 years of searching the finder was finally able to return the ring to Staff Sergeant Dundon's widow Ruth. This story has now been made into a film by Sir Richard Attenborough called "Closing The Ring"he ring was identified as having been worn by Staff Sergeant Lawrence Dundon. . . . Belfast Castle The plaque shown here can be seen in the foyer of Belfast Castle which was used as Headquarters for the Flag Officer Commanding the Royal Navy between 1941 and 1946.
Belfast Zoological Gardens is situated at the foot of Cave Hill and is accessed from Antrim Road.
Visitors will find that the location is on a rather steep hill and on reaching the top there is a memorial to the crew of United States Army Air Force B-17 Flying Fortress serial number 42-97862.
It was on 1st June 1944 that the aircraft was on the final leg of a ferry flight from the United States to Nutts Corner Airfield in County Antrim.
The hill was enveloped in thick fog and sadly the aircraft crashed with the deaths of all those on board.
The scene of the crash was secured by U.S. Military until the top secret Norden Bomb Sight was removed from the wreckage of this aircraft.
Many years after the crash, in 1991, a gold ring with the names "Lawrence and Ruth" etched on it was found at the crash site.
After 3 years of searching the finder was finally able to return the ring to Staff Sergeant Dundon's widow Ruth. This story has now been made into a film by Sir Richard Attenborough called "Closing The Ring"he ring was identified as having been worn by Staff Sergeant Lawrence Dundon. .
This story has now been made into a film by Sir Richard Attenborough called "Closing The Ring"he ring was identified as having been worn by Staff Sergeant Lawrence Dundon.
The plaque shown here can be seen in the foyer of Belfast Castle which was used as Headquarters for the Flag Officer Commanding the Royal Navy between 1941 and 1946.
An interesting reference to Second World War in an impressive building with a 200 acre estate. - Among the Units based here during the War was Number 12 Wireless Interception Screen (W.I.S.) of the Royal Air Force who arrived on 17th .December 1940 on transfer from R.A.F. Aldergrove.
This is Numbers 18 - 20 Mount Charles only a short walk from Queens University. - (Picture from "After The Battle" Magazine)
During the war this address was United States Army Transportation Corps Headquarters.
Seymour House, which is currently sheltered dwellings operated by B.I.H.A. had a Laundry in the Upper Yard which was used by approximately 100 women and children who had been evacuated from Belfast in 1941 / 1942.
During the Second World War there was racial segregation within the United States Military and there was a Military camp of Coloured American Soldiers based at Ballybog Road, Seymour Hill where the school now stands beside the site of the old Conway hotel.
Situated in the very pleasant surroundings of Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park is Wilmont House. The top picture shows how it looked (Thanks to After The Battle)
On 22nd January 1942 the U.S. Special Observer Group Code named "Magnet" set up its Corps Headquarters at Wilmont House under Commanding General M.G. Chaney. This was a General Supply Depot known as "G-10"
This building is easily accessable within the park.
Gilnahirk Secret Wireless Station
During the Second World War there were 3 Full-Time Wireless Listening Stations built around the U.K. including this one near Manns Corner, Gilnahirk.
The original WW2 building (Shown in the picture below) has gone with the one shown above having been constructed in the 1950's as a replacement. It was then abandoned since 1978 and was demolished recently for the construction of an appartment complex.
The pictures above show the Station prior to being demolished with the Pump House on the left being the only remaining building connected to the station. Beside the Pump House is the capped well shown here from where the water was filtered and pumped to the radio station.
The Radio Security Service later became part of the Composite Signals Organisation, a British worldwide listening organisation controlled by G.C.H.Q.
I am well informed that the first Radio Station at Gilnahirk had direct links to the work of Bletchley Park, The Sinking of the Bismarck and Plan Fortitude. The system was created by a network of 29 steel towers surrounding the complex which were grouped together in various ways to create radio aerials for interception.
In 1938 it was suspected that the Abwehr (German Military Intelligence) was recruiting agents throughout the United Kingdom who would use radio to remain in contact with Germany.
The Illicit Wireless Intercept Organisation was created to intercept such messages and 3 Listening Stations were created at Thurso in Scotland, St Erth near St Ives in Cornwall and at Gilnahirk.
The Radio Security Service became responsible for this role however due to the huge task it was hindered by a lack of both equipment and operators however ingenuity prevailed and an approach was made to the Radio Society of Great Britain in the hope that they could assist.
With their membership throughout the U.K. and the members having their own equipment this was a masterstroke.
Members of the Society were approached individually and sworn to secrecy. Following a test of their capability with Morse Code they were recruited as “Voluntary Interceptors” if successful and were required to spend 2 hours in 24 hour cycles monitoring specific radio frequencies which were allocated to them.
Everything which was heard was transcribed on Log Sheets which were posted by the operator to a P.O. Box address in Barnett. They were then recorded, sorted and cross referenced at Oakley View before being sent to the Decoders at Bletchley Park.
From 1942 The Radio Station at Gilnahirk was operated by Military Personnel and direction finding equipment was utilised in an attempt to establish compass bearings from where any incoming radio signals originated.
The wartime operation of Gilnahirk Radio Station finally came to an end in January 1946.
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.
The Oval Football Ground
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.
A platoon was allocated to "the Oval" and they soon saw a parachute falling with a magnetic mine. The explosion and fire that followed destroyed the main stand.
Amazingly Glentoran Football Club wanted to charge the Army £1 per week for using the pillboxes at the ground however they were given a £1 Per annum deal instead!
Exerpts from "A BOMBER’S MOON"
It was 1940, and across Europe and Africa, World War II had taken hold with vengeance. High above Belfast a solitary German reconnaissance plane was capturing the images of the subdued City below.
The mission of the crew was to plot potential targets for the Kampfgruppe 100 (the elite Luftwaffe pathfinder squadron based in Northern France) who as their name suggested lit up the chosen targets with incendiaries which were in turn bombarded by the heavy ordinance of the following squadrons of the Luftwaffe bomber command.
The reconnaissance flight returned to Northern France having highlighted a number of potential targets in Belfast. The raids would take place in early Spring of 1941 when the weather would assist the long run in across the Channel and round the Southern tip of England before the final approach over the Irish Sea.
The Germans established that Belfast was defended by only seven anti-aircraft batteries, which made it the most unprotected city in the United Kingdom. From their photographs, they identified suitable targets:
Significantly though, German intelligence made a huge mistake in identifying the location of Die Tankstelle / Tankanlage Conns Water. The Tankanlage Conns Water was a primary target on the Kamppfgruppe 100 hitlist. Tankstelle means Gas Station (oil storage facility if you like)
Despite all the reports you may have read relating to the Oval being attacked by mistake, the bombs falling short of their intended target or being jettisoned as the Germans headed for home, this photograph shows that German intelligence was wrong, instead of pinpointing the Tankstelle on the Northern side of the tracks the Kampfgruppe 100 bombed target “A” on their photographs, the “A” as can be seen sits right on the Oval and is the primary target as the photograph heading suggests.
On Sunday 4th May 1941 at 2145 hours seven Heinkel bombers from the infamous Kampfgruppe 100 squadron left Northern France and banked left across the English Channel, their final destination Belfast, they were armed not only with incendiary bombs but parachute mines and aerial photographs highlighting their intended targets.
At the controls of of the Heinkel bombers were pilots like Georg Deininger, this would be his second raid on Belfast, his squadron having already delivered death and destruction on the City during the Easter Tuesday raids. Such was the extent of the carnage on that occasion that fire engines came from as far as Dublin, Dundalk and Drogheda to help extinguish the blaze which burned in the City for several days.
Behind Deininger, another 204 Heinkel and Junkers bombers carried 95,992 of incendiaries and 237 tons of high explosive
At 0100 hours on the 5th May 1941 German pilots reported being over the target area of the Belfast Docks and that the weather was perfect. 205 German planes disgorged their cargo onto the shining slate roofs of Belfast. It was indeed a bomber’s moon.
By 0230 hours the whole of the docks area was ablaze, 25 people were to die in a shelter in Avondale Street, 35 houses were destroyed in Witham Street. Damage was widespread and devastating: Belfast Water Commissioners offices; The City Hall; Gallaghers; Bank Buildings; Ulster Arcade; Co-op; Timber Stores; Thorntons; Athletic Stores; Dunville Stores all suffered attacks. York Street Mill was hit again; the Oval was in ruins along with the shipyards and aircraft factory.
Many thanks to those at Glentoran Football Club who have helped me with this information.
The plaque above can be seen in the foyer of the Grandstand at The Oval. - It was erected in memory of Thomas Pearson who had been a goalkeeper from Glentoran Football Club and served during the Second World War with the Irish Guards.
Pearson won the Military Medal for action in Tunisia where he was later killed in action during April 1943.
All the documentation shown here relating to Thomas Pearson can be seen at The Oval.