On 21st April 1941, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester arrived at R.A.F. Aldergrove, Co. Antrim to begin an official visit to Northern Ireland. The Duke inspected various Battalions of the British Army across Ulster, while the Duchess made visits to hospitals and First Aid Posts. She also inspected some military units in her role as an Air Commandant in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force.
On their arrival in Northern Ireland, one of the first stops was the capital city of Belfast. There, the royal couple witnessed first-hand the destruction caused in some areas by the Easter Raid of the Belfast Blitz.
As well as visiting affected areas, the royals met with residents and inspected members of the Auxiliary Fire Service and Air Raid Precautions.
Arrival at R.A.F. Aldergrove
Lieutenant J.R. Bainbridge captured a series of photographs of the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester as they arrived at R.A.F. Aldergrove, Co. Antrim to begin a short visit to Northern Ireland on 21st April 1941.
On 22nd April 1941, much of the Duke’s visit centred around the Mountains of Mourne. Lieutenant General Sir Henry Pownall K.B.E., C.B., D.S.O., M.C., A.O.C. (General Officer Commanding British Troops in Northern Ireland) accompanied His Royal Highness. A cavalcade of official cars and red-capped Military Police motorcyclists made their way through the stunning landscape. The Duke took some time to walk about a mile in the countryside, taking in the beautiful scenery of the Mournes.
At a stop along the way, near Yellow Water River, he met with prominent British Army Officers.
The Duke’s next stop was at an ingeniously camouflaged gun emplacement, where he watched with interest while artillerymen handled the guns and expressed his admiration of their efficiency.
Belfast Telegraph, 22nd April 1941.
Before leaving Co. Down, the Duke inspected a ride past of 81st Field Regiment Royal Artillery. The cavalcade at Mourne Park near Kilkeel, Co. Down included lorries, Universal Carriers, and guns.
In Newcastle, Co. Down, word spread of the royal visit and crowds began to form, cheering loudly and waving flags. From a small platform next to a petrol station, the Duke took the salute from 4th Battalion King’s Shropshire Light Infantry. The day ended with a visit to Ballykinler, Co. Down to inspect members of a Battalion of the Royal Irish Fusiliers and North Irish Horse.
Visit to the Mournes
The Duke of Gloucester inspected training exercises from 1/5th Battalion The Welch Regiment at Yellow Water River, Rostrevor, Co. Down, 81st Field Regiment Royal Artillery at Mourne Park, Kilkeel, Co. Down, and 4th Battalion King's Shropshire Light Infantry at Newcastle, Co. Down.
Belfast and Ballykinler, Co. Down
On 22nd April 1941, the Duke of Gloucester inspected members of the Royal Irish Fusiliers at Ballykinler, Co. Down and 9th Battalion Gloucester Regiment at Victoria Park, Belfast.
On 23rd April 1941, the Duke of Gloucester undertook a tour of military installations around Mid-Ulster. Among the units inspected were Anti-Tank Regiments and Field Artillery Regiments.
Every effort was made to have the exercises as realistic as possible, and one of the highlights of the tour was the spectacle of men of a famous English unit advancing to the attack under a barrage…
The tour embraced a large area of Mid-Ulster, and at every town to which fleeting visits were made, the news of the royal visitors’ presence spread like wildfire, and large crowds gave him an enthusiastic reception.
Belfast Telegraph, 23rd April 1941.
Castledawson, Co. Londonderry
On 23rd April 1941, His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester inspected members of 7th Battalion The Gloucester Regiment at Castledawson, Co. Londonderry.
Royal Visit to Ulster
On 23rd April 1941, the Duke of Gloucester continued inspections of 10th Battalion The Worcester Regiment at Cookstown, Co. Tyrone, other Battalions at Dungannon, Co Tyrone, 2nd Battalion Royal Innisilling Fusiliers in Co. Armagh, and an Army Barracks in Lisburn, Co. Antrim.