4th (Steenstraete) Infantry Brigade

4th (Steenstraete) Infantry Brigade of the Belgian Army arrived in Northern Ireland in 1945. They trained in towns such as Banbridge and Gilford, Co. Down.

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.

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 was back in Belgium based in Bruges. From there, they went on to serve in occupied Germany.

Linfield v Belgian XI at Windsor Park, Belfast, Co. Antrim

Linfield v Belgian XI at Windsor Park, Belfast, Co. Antrim

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5th July 2019

Linfield v Belgian XI at Windsor Park, Belfast, Co. Antrim was an interesting spectacle of football with the visitors fielding some international players.

Places of Interest

Map showing Acton House, Acton, Co. Armagh

Acton House, Acton, Co. Armagh

Acton Road, Poyntzpass, Co. Armagh

Acton House stands between the villages of Acton and Poyntzpass, Co. Armagh. Built around 1775, it became a home to soldiers of the Belgian Army in 1945.

Map showing Bridge Street, Banbridge, Co. Down

Bridge Street, Banbridge, Co. Down

Banbridge, Co. Down

On 8th May 1945, 4th (Steenstraete) Infantry Brigade marched along Bridge Street, Banbridge, Co. Down as part of a parade to mark Victory in Europe Day.

Map showing Gilford Castle, Gilford, Co. Down

Gilford Castle, Gilford, Co. Down

Banbridge Road, Gilford, Co. Down

In 1945, troops of the 4th (Steenstraete) Infantry Brigade of the Belgian Army occupied the grounds of Gilford Castle as they reformed in Northern Ireland.

Map showing Hill Street, Gilford, Co. Down

Hill Street, Gilford, Co. Down

Gilford, Co. Down

Nothing remains of old Hill Street in Gilford, Co. Down. During the 19th century, it was home to hundreds of millworkers. Belgian troops visited in 1945.