Wartime Co. Down

Each branch of the military saw action in Co. Down in the Second World War from U.S. Forces and General Eisenhower in Bangor to the R.A.F. at Ballyhalbert.

County Down

Northern Ireland

The historic county of Co. Down takes its name from the ancient An Dún, the Irish word for a fort. The fort in question may have once stood in the town of Downpatrick, Co. Down. Covering an area of around 2,448 square kilometres, the county shares borders with Co. Antrim to the north and Co. Armagh to the west.

During the Second World War, troops made use of the eastern coastline on the Irish Sea, as well as Belfast Lough and the Mountains of Mourne. Large towns such as Bangor and Newry saw an influx of military activity as did smaller, rural villages in the area. The city of Belfast and the then town of Lisburn both straddle the border between Co. Down and Co. Antrim.

Eisenhower addresses the crew of USS Texas

US National Archives Photo: 80-G-352914. General Dwight D Eisenhower (US Army) addresses the crew of USS Texas (BB-35) in May 1944. Also on the platform is Rear Admiral Alan G Kirk, Commander Task Force 122.

Places of Interest

The following places will be of interest to anyone wishing to explore more of the area's Second World War heritage.

Map showing Ardglass, Co. Down during the Second World War

Ardglass, Co. Down during the Second World War

Co. Down

The village of Ardglass, Co. Down hosted members of the United States Army in 1942 with the arrival of elements of the 3rd Battalion, 6th Armored Infantry.

Map showing Ballyhalbert, Co. Down during the Second World War

Ballyhalbert, Co. Down during the Second World War

Co. Down

Ballyhalbert lies near Newtownards, Co. Down. In the Second World War, it was the site of a large airfield used by both the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy.

Map showing Ballyhornan, Co. Down during the Second World War

Ballyhornan, Co. Down during the Second World War

Co. Down

On 24th September 1941, during the Second World War, S.S. Bereby ran aground off the coast of Ballyhornan, Co. Down while en route to Africa.

Map showing Ballykinler, Co. Down during the Second World War

Ballykinler, Co. Down during the Second World War

Co. Down

The village of Ballykinler near Downpatrick, Co. Down was home to Abercorn Barracks, a base used for training during the Second World War.

Map showing Ballywalter, Co. Down during the Second World War

Ballywalter, Co. Down during the Second World War

Co. Down

During the Second World War, bombers landed near the R.A.F. repair base at Ballywalter Park. Elements of the British Army had nearby billets.

Map showing Banbridge, Co. Down during the Second World War

Banbridge, Co. Down during the Second World War

Co. Down

The Second World War brought changes to Banbridge, Co. Down including the arrival of a Belgian Infantry Brigade who paraded on V.E. Day, 8th May 1945.

Map showing Bangor, Co. Down during the Second World War

Bangor, Co. Down during the Second World War

Co. Down

The coastal resort of Bangor, Co. Down on the edge of Belfast Lough was a hive of activity in the Second World War particularly in the run-up to D-Day.

Map showing Bryansford, Co. Down during the Second World War

Bryansford, Co. Down during the Second World War

Co. Down

Bryansford, Co. Down is home to Tollymore Forest Park. United States Army troops trained here and throughout the Mournes during the Second World War.

Map showing Clough, Co. Down during the Second World War

Clough, Co. Down during the Second World War

Co. Down

Clough, Co. Down in the Second World War became one of the safe havens for evacuees from Gibraltar who adapted to the language and climate of rural Ulster.

Map showing Crossgar, Co. Down during the Second World War

Crossgar, Co. Down during the Second World War

Co. Down

In the Second World War, Crossgar, Co. Down, and other camps in Ulster became safe havens for evacuees from Gibraltar who struggled with the local climate.

Map showing Donaghadee, Co. Down during the Second World War

Donaghadee, Co. Down during the Second World War

Co. Down

The small town of Donaghadee, Co. Down still contains remnants of its Second World War History as well as tragic memories of the sinking of "Miss Betty".

Map showing Donaghcloney, Co. Down during the Second World War

Donaghcloney, Co. Down during the Second World War

Co. Down

During the Second World War, Donaghcloney, Co. Down hosted black soldiers serving in the United States Army's segregated Battalions.

Map showing Downpatrick, Co. Down during the Second World War

Downpatrick, Co. Down during the Second World War

Co. Down

The town of Downpatrick, Co. Down and surrounding area provided bases and training grounds for both British and American forces during the Second World War.

Map showing Drumbeg, Co. Down during the Second World War

Drumbeg, Co. Down during the Second World War

Co. Down

During the Second World War, the tranquility of Drumbeg, Co. Down shattered with the arrival of Home Guard and A.T.S. Motor Transport Companies.

Map showing Dundonald, Co. Down during the Second World War

Dundonald, Co. Down during the Second World War

Co. Down

Dundonald is a settlement built around a historic 12th century motte and bailey castle. It lies to the east of Belfast on the Co. Down edge of the city.

Map showing Dundrum, Co. Down during the Second World War

Dundrum, Co. Down during the Second World War

Co. Down

The village of Dundrum, Co. Down was a hive of activity during the Second World War with the arrival of the U.S. Military and the nearby Ballykinler Camp.

Map showing Gilford, Co. Down during the Second World War

Gilford, Co. Down during the Second World War

Co. Down

The Second World War transformed the village of Gilford, Co. Down, seeing Nissen Huts erected in the area providing bases for U.S. Army and Belgian troops.

Map showing Hillsborough, Co. Down during the Second World War

Hillsborough, Co. Down during the Second World War

Co. Down

During the Second World War, the village of Hillsborough, Co. Down was the home of the Governor of Northern Ireland the Duke of Abercorn.

Map showing Holywood, Co. Down during the Second World War

Holywood, Co. Down during the Second World War

Co. Down

The Second World War in Holywood, Co. Down brough Axis detainees to the town as locals became used to the sight of prisoners of war at the town's camps.

Map showing Kilkeel, Co. Down during the Second World War

Kilkeel, Co. Down during the Second World War

Co. Down

The Second World War in Kilkeel, Co. Down saw General Patton deliver one of his infamous speeches in the area while planes flew from Greencastle Airfield.

Map showing Killyleagh, Co. Down during the Second World War

Killyleagh, Co. Down during the Second World War

Co. Down

In the Second World War, many residents of Killyleagh, Co. Down enlisted in the armed forces. The village's war memorial remembers those who never returned.

Map showing Kircubbin, Co. Down during the Second World War

Kircubbin, Co. Down during the Second World War

Co. Down

During the Second World War, the village of Kircubbin, Co. Down was the location chosen for a command centre for R.A.F. No. 82 Fighter Group.

Map showing Lisburn, Co. Down during the Second World War

Lisburn, Co. Down during the Second World War

Co. Down

The southern edge of Lisburn falls in Co. Down. During the Second World War, this area reverberated with the hum of engines from the airfield at Long Kesh.

Map showing Magheralin, Co. Down during the Second World War

Magheralin, Co. Down during the Second World War

Co. Down

Kircassock House on the outskirts of Magheralin, Co. Down was a base for many American G.I.s of the United States Military during the Second World War.

Map showing Millisle, Co. Down during the Second World War

Millisle, Co. Down during the Second World War

Co. Down

Hundreds of Jewish refugees came to the small village of Millisle, Co. Down during the Second World War where they escaped the horrors of the Holocaust.

Map showing Moira, Co. Down during the Second World War

Moira, Co. Down during the Second World War

Co. Down

During the Second World War, the village of Moira, Co. Down was home to Waringfield Hospital where Allied troops based across Ulster received treatment.

Map showing Newcastle, Co. Down during the Second World War

Newcastle, Co. Down during the Second World War

Co. Down

During the Second World War in Newcastle, Co. Down, the British, American, and Belgian military passed through the seaside town as they trained in the area.

Map showing Newry, Co. Down during the Second World War

Newry, Co. Down during the Second World War

Co. Down

Many residents of Newry, Co. Down in the Second World War volunteered for service. The town's cenotaph on Bank Parade remembers those who never returned.

Map showing Newtownards, Co. Down during the Second World War

Newtownards, Co. Down during the Second World War

Co. Down

The Second World War in Newtownards, Co. Down saw Luftwaffe bombs fall on the airfield. It was also the birthplace of a legendary founding S.A.S. member.

Map showing Rostrevor, Co. Down during the Second World War

Rostrevor, Co. Down during the Second World War

Co. Down

American and Belgian troops set up bases around Rostrevor, Co. Down in the Second World War and Kilbroney Forest Park saw use as a Prisoner of War Camp.

Map showing Waringstown, Co. Down during the Second World War

Waringstown, Co. Down during the Second World War

Co. Down

Waringstown, Co. Down was central to an rural area of Northern Ireland that welcomed British, American, and Belgian troops during the Second World War.

Map showing Warrenpoint, Co. Down during the Second World War

Warrenpoint, Co. Down during the Second World War

Co. Down

The Second World War brought tragedy to Warrenpoint, Co. Down when planes collided over the town centre during a Royal Air Force demonstration.

References

Wikipedia

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