4th (Steenstraete) Infantry Brigade in Northern Ireland

2nd July 2019

In 1945, 4,000 soldiers and officers of 4th (Steenstraete) Infantry Brigade of the Belgian Army arrived in Co. Down to regroup and retrain after occupation.

4th (Steenstraete) Infantry Brigade of the Belgian Army arrived in Northern Ireland to begin training between 3rd April 1945 and 8th April 1945. This brigade, raised on 15th March 1945, consisted of volunteers and conscripts already with service in the Second World War.

In Northern Ireland, Brigade Headquarters and Field Ambulance operated from Banbridge, Co. Down. 1st Battalion set up camp at Union Lodge, Banbridge, Co. Down, 2nd Battalion at Loughbrickland, Co. Down, and 3rd Battalion at Lough Shark, Co. Armagh. Their commanding officer during this time was Colonel Louppe until 11th April 1946.

Residents of Hill Street, Gilford with Belgian soldiers

Family archive photo: Belgian soldiers from 4th Belgian infantry (Steenstraete). L-R Bella McConville, Sally McConville, Bernadette Fitzpatrick holding baby Wendy McManus, and Mary McManus. Photo taken at Hill Street (Keady Row), Gilford, Co. Down in 1945. Supplied by Wendy Granville (née McManus).

Almost 4,000 officers and soldiers of 4th (Steenstraete) Infantry Brigade were in Co. Down. They established billets at Banbridge, Seapatrick, Lenaderg, and Gilford. The sites chosen for Belgian Army camps in Co. Down were wooded areas near the River Bann. Among them was Colonel Camille Louppe. He established a base at Milltown House, Lenaderg, Co. Down.

After intensive training alongside the Royal Army Service Corps, the Brigade flourished. Once a unit of volunteers, they soon commanded around 600 vehicles. They even took instruction and testing on the British way to ride a bike. 4th (Steenstraete) Infantry Brigade received their grades and numbers on Monday 16th April 1945.

The brigade remained in Northern Ireland until the autumn of 1945. Between 21st September 1945 and 22nd September 1945, they left for Britain, where they trained until November 1945. By 1946, 4th (Steenstraete) Infantry Brigade were back in Belgium based in Bruges. From there, they went on to serve in occupied Germany.

Belgian Army in Northern Ireland




Belgian Army

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