The Royal Hotel, Whitehead, Co. Antrim once stood at the top of Victoria Avenue in the town. The building suffered fire damage after a bomb exploded on 15th March 1973. The hotel was the location for a dance and farewell party for members of 3rd (Rumbeke) Infantry Brigade of the Belgian Army on 14th August 1945.
During the event, Colonel, the Honourable E.G. Younger O.B.E. T.D. spoke on behalf of the British Army. He expressed regret that the Belgian Army was to leave Northern Ireland so soon. He also commended them on how much their new army units had achieved in such a short time. Not only had they trained hard but also overcome the obstacles of language and made great friends in the community.
Colonel B.E.M. van den Eynde who commanded 3rd (Rumbeke) Infantry Brigade thanked the British Army and the people of Ulster.
Thank you for this liberation carried out in common with the Forces of Resistance, which during four and a half years stood their ground and unabatedly kept after a pitiless and execrated enemy.
Colonel B.E.M. van den Eynde – 3rd (Rumbeke) Infantry Brigade.
He went on to praise the locals along the “beautiful coast” from Belfast to Cairndhu, who had welcomed them into their homes and communities.
During the months you have been stationed here, we have been struck with the exemplary conduct of your men of all ranks.
Councillor J.S. Hull J.P.
Major de Coen also thanked the residents of Whitehead and Ballycarry and spoke of how the Belgians felt “welcomed like sons”. He added his appreciation of the spectacular scenery of Northern Ireland and referred to the wearing of the Shamrock on their new crest.