East Antrim's Second World War relics

Top: The heavy anti-aircraft battery and (below) the radar platform at Ballyprior Beg, Islandmagee.
Top: The heavy anti-aircraft battery and (below) the radar platform at Ballyprior Beg, Islandmagee.

East Antrim’s links to history’s most devastating global conflict are being highlighted thanks to the efforts of a Bangor man.

Andy Glenfield began researching, visiting and photographing locations around the province which were linked to the Second World War as a hobby.

He soon gathered enough information to found his website, The Second World War in Northern Ireland.

"Islandmagee has some really interesting Second World War relics," Andy said. "There are the remains of a heavy anti-aircraft gun battery at Ballyprior Beg as well as a gunnery range further along the coast which was used to train naval personnel and those serving on what was known as Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships (DEMS). Sadly this particular one is in poor condition however another gun battery is in great condition at Ballysnod."

"The headstones at St John's Church and Islandmagee Cemetery have some interesting backgrounds. One of the stories is the crash of a Luftwaffe Focke-Wulf Condor aircraft off Black Head. Two of the aircrew went down with the aircraft so it is a grave.

"Within Larne Cemetery is a headstone naming D (Daniel) Higgins R.I.F. (Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers) who was killed in action at Newtownards. I am sure this would be a surprise to many people visiting the cemetery."

Meanwhile, several sites in the Newtownabbey area also have links to the Second World War.

"Sadly we continue to lose many of the Second World War buildings which were a part of our history," Andy added. "The radar platform at Glengormley has now been demolished. The platform was part of a heavy anti-aircraft gun battery. A radar trailer was positioned on the platform to operate in conjunction with the guns. All that remains now is one hardened Nissen hut on the opposite side of the road."

With numerous past visits to Commonwealth War Grave Commission cemeteries, Andy has also documented the final resting place of a number of local men.

"Rifleman David Topping Spence was serving with 1st Airborne Battalion, Royal Ulster Rifles. He died of wounds received during Operation Varsity. He was the son of Robert and Agnes Spence and was from Whitehouse. He is buried in Reichswald Forest Cemetery in Germany," he said.

"Corporal Robert Jackson died on May 15, 1944. He was 21 years old and serving with 2nd Battalion, The London Irish Rifles, Royal Ulster Rifles. Robert was the son of Samuel George and Agnes Jackson, of Ballyduff. He is buried in Cassino War Cemetery.

"Private William Heyburn was 29 years old and serving with 1st Battalion Kings Shropshire Light Infantry when he was killed on April 25, 1944. He was from Larne and is buried at Anzio Beach Head Cemetery."