2nd (Yser) Infantry Brigade of the Belgian Army arrived in Northern Ireland to begin training between 23rd January 1945 and 4th February 1945. This brigade, raised on 19th January 1945, consisted of volunteers and conscripts already with service in the Second World War.
In Northern Ireland, Brigade Headquarters operated from Drumadarragh House, Doagh, Co. Antrim. 1st Battalion set up camp at Ballycraigy, Co. Antrim, 2nd Battalion in the town of Antrim itself, and 3rd Battalion in Lougheramore, Co. Antrim. There was an Independent Machine Gun Company at Ballyclare, Co. Antrim, a Field Ambulance Unit in Doagh, Co. Antrim, and a REME Workshop in Antrim Town. Their commanding officer during this time was Colonel Van Loocke until 10th September 1945.
The brigade remained in Northern Ireland until the summer of 1945. From 30th June 1945, they left for Britain, where they trained until August 1945. By the end of World War Two, 2nd (Yser) Infantry Brigade was serving in occupied Germany.
A small Chaplain Detachment of the Roman Catholic Chaplain Services of the Belgian Army travelled to Northern Ireland with 2nd (Yser) Infantry Brigade. They provided spiritual support to all Belgian troops in Ulster, conducted masses, and also presided over several funerals. This detachment remained in Ulster throughout the stay of the Belgian troops, returning back to Europe with 6th (Deynze) Infantry Brigade.
After World War Two, Nissen huts at the Ballycraigy Camp saw use as relief housing for locals. Those who found themselves living there referred to the camp as Tin Town.
Belgian Army in Northern Ireland
Town Hall, Ballymena, Co. Antrim
The Town Hall, Ballymena, Co. Antrim has stood at its present site since 1924. During World War Two, troops of the Belgian Army based nearby came to dance.
YMCA Canteen, Ballymena, Co. Antrim
The YMCA Canteen, Ballymena, Co. Antrim was a popular place for serving military personnel to rest, relax and enjoy leisure activities during World War Two.