At 1355hrs on 13th September 1945, Mark IV Douglas Dakota KN628 landed at RAF Long Kesh, Co. Down. It took off from RAF Blackbushe, Farnborough, Hampshire 2 hours 20 minutes earlier. On board was Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery.
This was the first stop on a 3-day tour of Ulster. It saw the Field Marshal presented with the Freedoms of Belfast and Derry, and an honorary degree from Queen’s University Belfast.
At Long Kesh, Montgomery met the following:
- Rear Admiral Richard Hugh Loraine Bevan – Flag Officer in Charge Northern Ireland.
- Major General Gerard Corfield Bucknall – General Officer Commanding Northern Ireland.
- Air Commodore Allan Robert Churchman – Air Officer Commanding Northern Ireland.
- Group Captain RK Brougham – Officer Commanding RAF Long Kesh.
- Marquess of Londonderry Alexander Charles Robert Vane-Tempest-Stewart – His Majesty’s Lieutenant for Co. Down.
- John Edmond Warnock – Minister of Home Affairs.
- Sir Crawford McCullagh – Lord Mayor of Belfast.
Monty and the Media
On his arrival in Northern Ireland, he gave a cordial speech to the assembled members of the local press.
The Irish regiments have been magnificent in this war. It is a great pleasure for me today to be back in Northern Ireland, because I have not been here since 1937. Since then, I have been busily engaged in other places.
Wherever I have been, whether at El Alamein or anywhere between there and the Baltic, there has always been with me men from Northern Ireland, and not only men but women, members of the nursing and welfare services and other organisations.
I hope in the next day or two to have an opportunity of paying public tribute to the fighting men and women of Northern Ireland. A great many Irishmen have given their lives in this war that other people may have freedom.
As well as the media, a large number of RAF and WAAF personnel and civilians welcomed the Field Marshal with cries of “Good Old Monty”.
Guard of Honour
He inspected a Royal Air Force Guard of Honour as the band of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers played a regimental march. Noticing a medal from Palestine on one of the band members, Monty stopped for a chat. The soldier in question was Bugler Michael Dwyer who served under the Field Marshal in Palestine.
From RAF Long Kesh, Field Marshall Montgomery and General Bucknall departed. They travelled by open-top car through Lisburn and on to Government House, Hillsborough, Co. Down for the next stage of the visit.