2nd (Yser) Infantry Brigade

2nd (Yser) Infantry Brigade of the Belgian Army arrived in Northern Ireland in 1945. They trained in towns across Ulster such as Ballymena, Co. Antrim.

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.

Bases in Northern Ireland

Start DateEnd DateUnitLocation
1945Headquarters, 2nd Infantry BrigadeDrumadarragh House, Doagh, Co. Antrim
19451st Battalion, 2nd Infantry BrigadeBallycraigy, Co. Antrim
19452nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry BrigadeAntrim, Co. Antrim
19453rd Battalion, 2nd Infantry BrigadeLougheramore, Co. Antrim
1945Independent Machine Gun Company, 2nd Infantry BrigadeBallyclare, Co. Antrim
1945Field Ambulance Unit, 2nd Infantry BrigadeDoagh, Co. Antrim
1945REME Workshop, 2nd Infantry BrigadeAntrim, Co. Antrim

Places of Interest

Map showing Ballymena Town Hall, Ballymena, Co. Antrim

Ballymena Town Hall, Ballymena, Co. Antrim

1-29 Bridge Street, 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.

Map showing Drumadarragh House, Doagh, Co. Antrim

Drumadarragh House, Doagh, Co. Antrim

Drumadarragh Road, Doagh, Co. Antrim

In January 1945, Drumadarragh House, Doagh, Co. Antrim became the Headquarters of the newly formed 2nd (Yser) Infantry Brigade of the Belgian Army.

Map showing YMCA Canteen, Ballymena, Co. Antrim

YMCA Canteen, Ballymena, Co. Antrim

Wellington Street, 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.

2nd (Yser) Infantry Brigade in Ulster

Joseph van de Craen

Sergeant

Sergeant Joseph van de Craen served in the Belgian Infantry during World War Two. He died on 16th March 1945 in Massereene Hospital, Antrim, Co. Antrim.

Leon Maton

Private

Private Leon Maton served with 1st Battalion, 2nd (Yser) Infantry Brigade of the Belgian Army. Maton died in Belfast on 9th March 1945 of meningitis.