In the Annagh Meadows area of Portadown, Co. Armagh, a reminder of World War Two era civil defence remains standing.
The Type 28 Pillbox lies off the Tandragee Road between the Co. Armagh towns of Portadown and Tandragee. The location of the pillbox today is next to a housing development but in the early 1940s would have offered views along the River Bann.
The Annagh Pillbox is in excellent condition, well maintained by the local council. A plaque next to the pillbox explains its use during the 1939-1945 conflict.
Protecting the Annagh Pillbox
In 2001, the pillbox proved instrumental in the case for a preservation order for all the country’s remaining World War Two pillboxes. Alderman Smith and veterans John Fiddes and John Kane fronted the campaign.
Construction of the Annagh Meadows housing development would have destroyed the concrete structure. The preservation campaign persuaded the Department of the Environment’s Heritage Service to save it.
The council are going to put a plaque there and I feel strongly that it should become an official memorial to the men and women who lost their lives in the Second World War, all 55 million of them.
Alderman Woolsey Smith, 2009
On Sunday 15th November 2009, around fifty people gathered at the Annagh Pillbox for a commemoration service. The act of remembrance was significant as it marked the end of a campaign by Craigavon Borough Council to maintain the pillbox as a memorial.
Alderman Woolsey Smith organised the service, led by Reverend Kenneth Elliott and Reverend David Smith. Both are Free Presbyterian ministers based nearby.
Defending Northern Ireland
Pillboxes are concrete guard posts that usually incorporate a loophole from which to fire weapons. Many such defensive positions existed in Northern Ireland to help protect strategic positions in the case of a Nazi invasion.
Several pillboxes still stand on the River Bann and other defensive positions overlooked Newry Canal, Carnlough Bay, Lough Neagh, and the River Lagan. Similar defensive structures to the Annagh Pillbox protected beaches and bridges.