World War Two in Gilford, Co. Down

World War Two in Gilford, Co. Down transformed the Co Down village, seeing Nissen Huts erected in the area providing bases for US Army and Belgian troops.

Gilford

Co. Down

United Kingdom

The village of Gilford, Co. Down and surrounding countryside on the banks of the River Bann made for an excellent training ground for troops during World War Two. British, American, and Belgian forces all spent time in the rural village where they trained and prepared for conflict.

In 1939, the population of the village was around 2,000. Most people lived in terraced millworkers’ houses. Despite its small size, Gilford, Co. Down was well-linked with the Belfast-Dublin railway nearby. Troops would walk a mile into the village from the Madden Station on the road to Tandragee, Co. Armagh.

Residents of Hill Street, Gilford with Belgian soldiers

Family archive photo: Belgian soldiers from 4th (Steenstraete) Infantry Brigade. L-R Bella McConville, Sally McConville, Bernadette Fitzpatrick holding baby Wendy McManus, and Mary McManus. Photo taken at Hill Street (Keady Row), Gilford, Co. Down in 1945. Supplied by Wendy Granville (née McManus).

The rivers, lakes, and hills in the surrounding countryside met the training needs of various military units throughout the Second World War. While these provided ideal conditions for training, the grand houses of linen merchant families and wooded demesnes offered places for the accommodation of troops.

Gilford in the Blackout

WartimeNI Photo: White bands mark a lamp post in the village of Gilford, Co. Down. These type of markings date back to the blackout during the Second World War. Photo taken on 10th September 2016. Copyright Scott Edgar - WartimeNI.

Other units spent time in the nearby towns of Banbridge, Co. Down, Portadown, Co. Armagh, and Lurgan, Co. Armagh. Gilford, Co. Down was not just home to Allied Forces in wartime. Towards the end of the war, residents of the village witnessed the arrival of German and Italian prisoners of war.

American Forces in Gilford

The following American forces were based in the village of Gilford, Co. Down between 1943 and 1944. If you have more information on exact bases, please get in touch.

Start DateEnd DateUnits
18/10/194316/06/1944115th Chemical Processing Company
19436th Cavalry

Places of Interest

The following places will be of interest to anyone wishing to explore more of Gilford's World War Two heritage.

Map showing Bannvale House, Gilford, Co. Down

Bannvale House, Gilford, Co. Down

10 Moyallan Road, Gilford, Co. Down

Bannvale House, Gilford, Co. Down hosted elements of 2nd Squadron, 6th Cavalry, United States Army as they entered the European Theatre of Operations.

Map showing Elmfield Prisoner of War Camp, Gilford, Co. Down

Elmfield Prisoner of War Camp, Gilford, Co. Down

Moyallan Road, Gilford, Co. Down

The polo fields and grounds of a large stately home in Gilford, Co. Down became Elmfield prisoner of war camp in 1945. Around 1,800 German troops were held.

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 Gilford Masonic Hall, Gilford, Co. Down

Gilford Masonic Hall, Gilford, Co. Down

138 Stramore Road, Gilford, Co. Down

During the Second World War, troops from the United States Army's 6th Cavalry had a base in the Gilford Masonic Hall on Stramore Road, Gilford, Co. Down.

Map showing Gilford Orange Hall, Gilford, Co. Down

Gilford Orange Hall, Gilford, Co. Down

45 Stramore Road, Gilford, Co. Down

Gilford Orange Hall on Stramore Road, Gilford, Co. Down saw the arrival of an Advance Detachment of 6th Cavalry, US Army in 1943 before the unit's arrival.

Map showing Gilford Royal British Legion Hall, Gilford, Co. Down

Gilford Royal British Legion Hall, Gilford, Co. Down

Mill Street, Gilford, Co. Down

During World War Two, troops from the United States Army's 6th Cavalry had a base in the Gilford Royal British Legion Hall, Mill Street, Gilford, Co. Down.

Map showing Gilford War Memorial, Gilford, Co. Down

Gilford War Memorial, Gilford, Co. Down

Mill Street, Gilford, Co. Down

Gilford War Memorial stands at a prominent junction in the rural Co. Down town. It commemorates the dead of both World Wars including 22 from World War Two.

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.

Map showing Kernan Lough Searchlight Battery, Gilford, Co. Down

Kernan Lough Searchlight Battery, Gilford, Co. Down

Kernan Road, Gilford, Co. Down

Kernan Lough is a popular fishing spot near Gilford in Co. Down but in the early 1940s, it was home to a Searchlight Battery Unit of the Ulster Home Guard.

Map showing Stramore Farm, Gilford, Co. Down

Stramore Farm, Gilford, Co. Down

Gilford, Co. Down

In 1943, an Advance Detachment of African American GIs of 6th Cavalry arrived at Stramore Farm, Gilford, Co. Down taking over the former British REME base.