Ward Park in Bangor is a great place for tourists to visit and locals to relax. It's known for hosting music festivals and rock shows featuring the likes of Snow Patrol and Eminem. The parkland covers 37 acres of sports fields, playgrounds, and a wildfowl sanctuary. Visitors with a keen eye will notice a few reminders of wartime Bangor within the park boundaries.
At the residential Park Drive end, concealed by a cluster of trees stands a small red-brick building. It’s now used by a local cycling club in the Co. Down seaside town. Thick walls, sturdy construction, and solid concrete roof, though point to its former use as a public air-raid shelter.
There are still a few of these types of shelter standing throughout Northern Ireland. An almost identical model stands in Castle Gardens in Lisburn, Co. Down.
The town of Bangor would come under attack from the Luftwaffe in April 1941 as they flew across Northern Ireland.
Bangor War Memorial
Many young men from Bangor died across Europe and North Africa between 1939 and 1945. By then, a memorial to the fallen of The Great War 1914-1918 already stood at the Hamilton Road end of Ward Park.
The Portland stone and bronze sculpture remembers 124 men from the local area who made the ultimate sacrifice. These soldiers, sailors, and airmen gave their all in the First World War. The bronze sculpture atop the monument depicts Erin holding a palm branch of victory and a lion.
The Great War, 1914-1918. To the memory of our fallen sons. Dulce et decorum est Pro Patria Mori.
Bangor War Memorial
Guns in Ward Park
Next to the war memorial, you can see an unusual site. The gun of a World War One German U-Boat is not what you would expect to see in a town park. The well-preserved artifact now belongs to the townspeople of Bangor, a gift with a story behind it.
The inscription on the gun tells more:
This gun taken from German submarine U19 was allotted to Bangor (County Down) by the Admiralty in recognition of the valorous conduct of Commander the Hon. Edward Barry Stewart Bingham of H.M.S. Nestor at the Battle of Jutland on 31st May 1916. For which he received the Victoria Cross. Died in the Service of their Country.
German WWI U-Boat Gun, Ward Park
Next time you pay a visit to Bangor, make sure to take a walk through Ward Park and look out for some of these unique historical sights.