Damien Lewis's SAS Band Brothers

A special delivery today and welcomed addition to the museum library.

I look forward to reading the SAS Band of Brothers the latest book from a leading authority on the SAS during the Second World War author Damien Lewis.

If you have recently purchased Damiens book and once we reopen pop in and we will give you an SAS Band of Brothers book mark.

On display is another cracking piece and testimony to our very own

 Lieutenant Colonel Robert Blair Paddy Mayne DSO (3bars) SAS, the bust of Colonel Paddy sculpted and hand made by the very talented Dom Rumble.





Lady in Red

Introducing the Red Widow

We always remember the women in our services and those who worked on the land and in our factories through the displays and many artefacts we hold here.

An idea was hatched to create the Red Widow but not just to remember all the women who lost their husbands, but I thought it was very fitting to remember all the mothers who lost their sons.

However having an idea is one thing the execution of it is another, at the time I did not realise the grand scale of this project.

First off I would like to thank all the volunteers for all the hours weeks and months actually bringing it to completion.

It was started over 2 years ago, put away and brought out again, again and again. But we are like British Rail we got there in the end.

Logistically it was a bigger task than one first thought, ie collecting poppies along the way de leafing them, getting a mannequin to suit creating the dress and then the cape and adding electric lighting to illuminate her.

We reckon as she stands now between 6 to 8000 poppies, possibly a lot more as we did lose count after 6000.

We would also like to give all of you who collected up their poppies and sent them to us since the request went out.

They are in there hundreds and are included in this memorial, which makes this tribute even more special.

It also makes it more significant and poignant as some of these poppies were worn by you over remembrance and or at your churches and remembrance events, so again to all of you thank you for contributions we couldn’t of done without you.

Remembrance is not just the 11th of November our veterans remembered every day.

Share away folks and let’s see how far she will go

Together We Will Remember Them





Remembrance Day 2020

Not as we planned it but we marked it as best we could under the current Covid19 restrictions.

Members of War Years Remembered braved the wind and the rain and went on a pilgrimage to visit and to remember 9 local servicemen buried in our country graveyards.

A small act of remembrance was said at each of the graves from the Great and Second World War and at the Main cemetery at 11am we paused, reflected and remembered all those touched by war as we held a 2 minute silence.

I have to say I am very proud of all the volunteers who helped with the research the planning and the execution of this way of marking this Covid19 remembrance.

I would like to personally thank them for all the time and hard work they have given freely with one common goal to remember our veterans.

Ballyclare New Cemetery

First World War

Sergeant Archibald Douther

Born: Ballyclare (28/09/1888)

Lived At: Ballyclare until 1912, then Fergus, Canada

Served With: Canadian Infantry (Eastern Ontario Regiment), 6th (Reserve) Bn.

Service Number: 53042

Date of Death: Died of wounds, 13th December 1918, aged 30

Buried or Commemorated At: Ballyclare New Cemetery, Sec. I. Grave 12

Archibald was the son of Thomas and Agnes Elizabeth Douther and husband of Martha Douther. Archibald worked as a tailor before the War and was also a member of Ballyclare True Blues LOL 957. He died of wounds at home in Ballyclare.

Private Hugh Henry

Born: Larne (1874)

Served With: Royal Irish Rifles, ‘C’ Coy. 13th Bn.

Service Number: 17794

Date of Death: Died of sickness, 22th August 1916, aged 42

Buried or Commemorated At: Ballyclare New Cemetery, Sec. C. Grave 46

Hugh was the husband of Agnes Henry of Ballyclare. Hugh was hit and wounded by a shell splinter.

He was sent to Belfast to recover and was later allowed to return home to Ballyclare to rest, Hugh

had to walk from Belfast to Ballyclare and in doing so opened his wound which later became infected. Hugh died of sickness weeks after.

Corporal Samuel McGuigan

Born: Ballyclare (27/02/1889)

Lived At: Three Rivers, Canada

Served With: Canadian Infantry (Quebec Regiment), 14th Bn.

Service Number: 1054243

Date of Death: Died of wounds 31st August 1918, aged 30

Buried or Commemorated At: Ballyclare New Cemetery, Sec. C. 31

Samuel was the son of Samuel and Susan McGuigan. He was a member of his local militia, the

86th Regiment, Three Rivers Militia. Samuel worked as a boss finisher before the war and was also a member of Ballyclare True Blues LOL 957.

Rifleman Thomas McNeilly

Born: Braetown, Glenwherry

Lived At: Park Street, Ballyclare

Served With: Royal Irish Rifles, ‘C’ Coy. 18th Bn.

Service Number: 380

Date of Death: 24th January 1919, aged 23

Buried or Commemorated At: Ballyclare New Cemetery, Sec. B. Grave 70

Thomas was the son of William and Elizabeth McNeilly. Thomas was wounded in action at Armentieres and died later at a hospital in Dublin.

Second World War

Aircraftman 1st Class Nathaniel McGrady

Born: Park Street, Ballyclare (1920)

Served With: Royal Air Force, 949 Balloon

Service Number: 630150

Date of Death: Killed in accident, 20th June 1940, aged 20

Buried or Commemorated At: Ballyclare New Cemetery, Sec. H. Grave 21

Nathaniel was the son of William McGrady of Ballyclare. He died in an accident in Crewe, England. He was larking with Aircraftman Herbert Gaskell who was on sentry, when Gaskell's rifle went off by mistake and shot McGrady in the stomach. He told an RAF officer that 'it was a pure

accident.' McGrady died ten days later from the injury.

Ballylinney Old Graveyard

First World War

Second Lieutenant James Milliken (Milligan)

Lived At: Main Street, Ballyclare

Served With: Royal Engineers, Royal Irish Rifles, 12th Bn., and Royal Air Force

Service Number: 174776

Date of Death: Died in accident, 31st December 1918, aged 26

Buried or Commemorated At: Ballylinney Old Graveyard, Grave 280

James was the son of Samuel and Hessie Milliken. After serving with the Royal Irish Rifles James transferred to the Royal Flying Corps and was learning to fly around the Toon area of Scotland when his plane crashed.

Second World War

Sergeant Robert Laird

Born: Belfast (11/05/1900)

Served With: Royal Army Service Corps

Service Number: T/20729

Date of Death: 23rd November 1944, aged 44

Buried or Commemorated At: Ballylinney Old Graveyard, Grave 278

Son of James and Elizabeth Laird, husband of Hannah Louisa Laird.

Rashee New Cemetery

Second World War

Sergeant Robert Charles Beggs

Born: Ballyclare (04/03/1915)

Served With: Royal New Zealand Air Force (Air bomber)

Service Number: 427441

Date of Death: 12th June 1944, aged 29

Buried or Commemorated At: Rashee New Cemetery, Sec. D. Grave 24

Robert was the son of Robert James Beggs and Elizabeth Beggs and husband of Susan Beggs, of Templepatrick. He emigrated to Auckland, New Zealand and worked as a factory hand before the war.

Able Seaman Henry McCauley

Born: Ballyclare (1930)

Lived At: Mill Lane, Ballyclare

Served With: Royal Navy, H.M.S Courageous

Service Number: D/J 35109

Date of Death: 17th September 1939, aged 39

Buried or Commemorated At: Rashee New Cemetery, Sect. A. Grave 39

Henry was the son of Robert and Mary McCauley. Henry served out his pension with the Navy in January 1939 and was in the naval reserves when the Second World War broke out. His ship was torpedoed off the Irish coast by a German U-boat. Henry was the first man from Ballyclare to die in the Second World War.

Also Commemorated

Great War

David McCallion Royal Irish Fusiliers

Frederick Carlisle North Irish Horse

David Carlisle Royal Irish Rifles later RSM Royal Ulster Rifles

Second World War

Lewis McConnell Royal Navy

Torrens Wilson Boyd Royal Navy

Robert Andrew Loughlin 1st Royal Ulster Rifles

William White 1st Royal Ulster Rifles

Noel Johnston Royal Corps of Signals

Post War Service

William Carlisle Ulster Defence Regiment

Robin Thompson Royal Irish Rangers TAVR

Thank you all for your very kind help and support to help us keep their memories alive.

Together We Will Remember Them.


76th Anniversary of Operation Market Garden

Operation Market Garden on this day 17th September 1944.

The Battle of Arnhem was a pivotal battle of the Second World War with its aim to secure the bridges for the Rhine crossings and the advance in to Germany.

It was mainly fought in and around the Dutch towns of Arnhem, Oosterbeek, Wolfheze and Driel and the surrounding countryside from the 17th to the 26th of September 1944.

The British were forces fought hard in and around the western suburb of Oosterbeek and held out for nine days as depicting in the famous film “A Bridge To Far”. Supplies and the reinforcements that was expected from the advancing army was not able to reached them.

Those gallant men put up an heroic struggle against overwhelming odds and it is estimated that over 300 Irish men from both the North and South of Ireland were involved in the Battle for Arnhem.

Our losses are estimated at 1,485 were killed, 6,500 taken prisoner and 2,400 escaped to fight another day.
It is often said that British intelligence had been flawed and the paratroopers, while seizing the north end of the bridge, were quickly outnumbered”

Local links involve men such as Corporal Robert (Bobbie) Hunter from Logwood Mill, Ballyclare was serving with the 1st Battalion the Parachute Regiment and had made it to the bridge. He made it out and fought on and is remembered in Ballylinney Presbyterian Church.

An interesting story we came across tying in many of Irish connections is that one of the Army chaplains in the battle of Arnhem was Alan Buchanan who hailed from Fintona in County Tyrone. He was taken prisoner and finished the war in Stalag X1-B in Fallingbostel. After the war he become the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin.

We have many direct and indirect links to the Operation as well as artefacts and stories including a uniform to the 1st Polish Parachute Brigade through the War Years Remembered Collection.

Belfast Sailor's & Soldier's Service Club

One of the rarer badges from the War Years Remembered, Great War home front collection.

A rare example Great War period Belfast Sailor's & Soldier's Service Club War Service made in silver with enamel detailing to the badge.
It bears the Belfast Coat of Arms and the reverse is stamped "Sterling" as well as the maker's details "T.L.M" (Thomas Lyster Mott).
It is also stamped with its original owners issue number it stands 36mm high.

The Belfast Sailor’s & Soldiers Service Club was in Waring Street in 1917 and some notable persons were involved during its operation.

William Cleland Gabbey, who lived at 117 University Street, Belfast with his wife Margaret, son Foster and Daughter Mary. He was a member of the Rotary Club in Belfast being president at one time, and eventually took over the running of his father’s timber business in Hope Street. During the Great War he was an untiring supporter of soldiers and sailors, their welfare, founding many institutes to provide help and workshops for disabled soldiers and sailors and pension help with those who no longer served in the military.
As well as this he founded the Sailor’s and Soldier’s Services Club where they could gather and exchange stories bringing a little normality to life after the war.
Until his death in 1919 at the age of 45, just after the war, he was tireless in his support of ex-service men, and his many friends who held him in high esteem, erected a memorial in his memory.
His daughter Mary Sinclair married John Alexander Crockett at Fitzroy Presbyterian Church in October 1924. Her brother-in-law was Temporary 2nd Lt. Charles Love Crockett who served with the 11th/ 12th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers as part of the 36th (Ulster) Division. He went with a detachment from the Regiment’s depot at Enniskillen to the troublesome streets of Dublin in 1916 where he met his death and died on the 29th April. (It is not mentioned in 1916 Rebellion Hand Book), in King George V hospital in Dublin aged20.
At the time of his death, different versions of the circumstances were reported, one claimed that it was a rebel attack while other record that it was ‘friendly fire’. However it turns out that the bullet was fired by a soldier on guard at Fitzwilliam Street, who saw him running across the road and fired mistaking him for a rebel. As there were no coffins available in Dublin, one had to be sent from Londonderry and he was conveyed home and buried on the 3rd May 1916 but his parents requested that they did not wish a military funeral when he was laid to rest in the City Cemetery Londonderry.

In 1918 Mr R.M. Liddell was its President and Mr R.K.L. Galloway, Hon. Treasurer, Ulster Bank, of Waring Street, Belfast.
Miss Emily Crawford Simpson had served with the VAD (Volunteer Aid Detachment) from 1915 to 1919 as a nurse and a cook she worked at the Services Club from Aug. 1918 to Aug 1919. for 12 hours a day till the club closed.

The Dickin Medal and the S.A.S. Connection



The animal equivalent to the Victoria Cross instituted in 1943 by the PDSA’s founder Maria Dickin CBE.
The PDSA’s Medal is the highest award any animal can receive whilst serving in military conflict. It is recognised worldwide and it acknowledges outstanding acts of bravery or devotion to duty displayed by animals serving within the Armed Forces or Civil Defence units in any theatre of war throughout the world.

Since it was instituted the Medal has been awarded 69 times since 1943, it has also been issued as an Honorary PDSA Dickin Medal which was awarded back in 2014 to War Horse Warrior for the 100th anniversary of the Great War to remember all the War Horses who served.

The Medal seen attached is a large bronze medallion bearing the words
“For Gallantry” and “We Also Serve” all within a laurel wreath.
The ribbon is in three stripes with green and dark brown representing the land and blue for water and air to symbolise the naval, land and air forces which along they served.

During the War Years of 1939 to 1945 the charities founder Maria Dickin CBE was made aware of the incredible acts of bravery displayed by animals on active service not just on the battlefield but on the Home Front.

The recipients come from far and wide which comprise of 32 dogs, 32 pigeons, 4 horses and 1 cat.

One of the unique issues the esteemed PDSA Medal was to a Collie dog called Rob, war dog number 471/332. He took part in the landings of North Africa with an infantry unit and it was not exciting enough for him, he later on served with distinction with an elite Special Air Service unit in Italy patrolling and on constant guard with smaller detachments lying up behind enemy lines.
His presence with the troops saved many of them from discovery or capture or even destruction.
Rob also made over 20 parachute descents earning him the honorary prized SAS blue wings and certificate seen in the photograph attached, it was awarded on the 22nd of January 1945.

Sources :
The Military Times
Historic U.K.



"PADDY” Second World War Northern Irish pigeon that became a War Hero

"PADDY" band number was NPS 43 9451 born in 1943 he returned to Carnlough after his wartime service and died in 1954 at the age of 11.
He was owned and bred by Captain Andrew Hughes who had seen service during the Great War and was jointly trained by John McMullan of Carnlough, Northern Ireland.

His early service was with the RAF serving with Air Sea Rescue he impressed the military no end as was seconded to a special unit of the US First Army and arrived in France two days before the Normandy landings in June 1944.

His secret mission code was named U2 and on the morning of the 12th June 1944 at 0815 hours “Paddy’s” mission began. He flew 230 miles in a record 4 hours and 50 minutes the fastest time recorder during Operation Overlord and landed back at his loft in Hampshire with his coded information. If the operation was not perilous enough, not just by the war conditions, but by special German units aiming to take out Paddy and his colleagues; a series of hawks were stationed in Calais to intercept the pigeons.

It was on the 1st September 1944 that his was award of the Dickin Medal was cited, which is awarded for conspicuous gallantry or devotion to duty while serving in military conflict.
The Dickin Medal is the highest awarded medal to be given any war service animal, it is often described as being “the animals’ Victoria Cross”.

Paddy’s medal citation reads “For the best recorded time with a message from the Normandy Operations, while serving with the RAF in June, 1944.”

“Paddy” is Northern Ireland’s only recipient of the Dickin Medal.

The plaque was unveiled at Carnlough, harbour wall on Saturday the 19th September 2009 by 88 year old pigeon fancier, John McMullan, who had helped train Paddy along with his good friend Captain Andrew Hughes.
Sadly John passed away three days after unveiling the plaque.

Not the only famous “Paddy” from Northern Ireland who served during the Second World War to have a song written about them, but what a tribute.
follow this link:


Pigeons in Combat
Belfast Telegraph


Merchant Navy Day

On this day the 3rd September, Merchant Navy Day.

Today we fly the Red Ensign or what was nicknamed the Red Duster, the flag of the British Merchant Navy, to commemorate the brave men and women who kept our island nation ‘afloat’ during both times of peace and war. Merchant Navy Day became an official day of remembrance on the 3rd September, 2000 after years of lobbying to bring about the official recognition of the sacrifices made during the First and Second World War by the often forgotten men and women of the Merchant Navy.

During the First World War the British Empire’s merchant marine became the supply service of the Royal Navy, it shipped raw materials, transported troops and delivered arms and supplies to British armed forces. It also carried food and supplies to the home front, keeping factories in production and the people from starvation. The fishing fleet also continued its role in bringing catches into British ports. Men and women from across the British Isles and the Empire joined the merchant fleet crews, in 1914 an estimated third of these crews were born abroad and included Indian, Chinese, African, Arab and Japanese people.

German U-boats were used against British warships, but they also deliberately targeted British merchant ships as Germany introduced a policy of unrestricted submarine warfare in early 1915, and declared the area around the British Isles a war zone, in which all merchant ships, including those from neutral countries, would be attacked by the German navy. This culminated in the sinking of the British passenger ship the Lusitania on the 7th of May, 1915, killing 1,195 people, including 128 Americans. The incident prompted the U.S to demand an end to attacks against unarmed merchant ships and the German navy was persuaded to suspend U-boat warfare, until January 1917 when it was resumed.

2,479 British merchant vessels and 675 British fishing vessels were lost as a result of enemy action, with respectively 14,287 and 434 lives lost. The term Merchant Navy was coined by King George V in 1919, as recognition of the sacrifice made by merchant seafarers during the First World War. On the 14th February 1928, His Majesty King George V formally renamed the merchant marine in appointing HRH The Prince of Wales as the first ‘Master of the Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets.’

Britain's merchant fleet was the largest in the world during both the First and the Second World War, as the outbreak of war edged closer in 1939, the British merchant fleet carried 33% of the world’s tonnage. Around 185,000 men and women served in the Merchant Navy during the Second World War, again the crews were made of up of various nationalities including British, Chinese and Indians. While they faced the same dangers of war as the regular armed forces as well as the hazards of the elements, they did so as civilians and volunteers. Their vessels ranged from passenger and large cargo ships to tramp ships and coastal vessels and the sailors served on seas and oceans across the world.

The Merchant Navy was integral to the nation’s survival, with all of Britain’s oil arriving by sea as well as half of its food and most of its raw materials. After the declaration of war in September 1939, the Ministry of Shipping (later the Ministry of War Transport) took control of the merchant fleet. The Ministry decided the cargo the ships would carry and the function they would fulfill in order to best support the war effort, while crewing and provisioning remained under the jurisdiction of the shipping industry. A convoy system was implemented, warships would escort groups of merchant ships to defend and deter against attacks from the unrestricted submarine warfare of the German U-boats. The Merchant Navy was most crucial in the longest continuing military campaign of the war- the Battle of the Atlantic. The British merchant fleet brought food, oil, supplies, equipment and raw materials from across the Atlantic and struggled against German U-boats, battleships, aircraft and mines. The Merchant Navy had a higher proportional death rate than any of the British armed forces during the Second World War, 30,248 merchant seamen lost their lives.

Since the Second World War, the British Merchant Navy has become steadily smaller (while still remaining one of the largest in the world) but has continued to help in wartime, notably during the Falklands War as well as in peacetime, being responsible for most the UK’s imports, including food and fuel.

75th Anniversary of VJ Day

2nd September 1945 VJ Day or Victory Day America
Japanese sign final surrender

Today is the anniversary of Imperial Japan’s formal surrender to the Allied Forces at the end of the Second World War. By mid-1945, the defeat of Japan looked inevitable with its navy and air force destroyed, devastating air raids on its cities and an Allied naval blockade had the Empire’s military and civilian populace seriously vulnerable. The Japanese held island of Okinawa had been captured and prepared to be used as a staging area for a proposed Allied invasion of the Japanese Home Islands called Operation Downfall.

The Empire initially rejected the call by the Allied Forces for its unconditional surrender in the Potsdam Declaration. What followed was the atomic bombing of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on the 6th and 9th of August, as well the declaration of war on Japan by the Soviet Union on the 8th of August and its invasion of Manchuria the following day. American President Harry S. Truman called again for Japan’s surrender, warning the Japanese to ‘expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth.’ An imperial conference was held by the Japanese Emperor Hirohito and after a long, emotional debate it was decided Japan would accept the terms of the Potsdam Declaration. In the early hours of the 15th of August, a military coup was attempted by a radical militarist faction of the Japanese leadership but was swiftly crushed.

Japan announced its surrender at noon on the 15th of August, 1945 after the Japanese Emperor broadcasted the acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration to the Japanese people, but this was not formalised until the Japanese Instrument of Surrender was signed aboard the USS Missouri (a battleship that had seen considerable action in the Pacific Theatre) by Japan and the Allied Forces in Tokyo Bay on the 2nd of September, 1945 thus officially ending the Second World War. V-J Day is officially commemorated on the 15th of August in the UK, while the US commemoration is on the 2nd of September.

Following the official surrender ceremony, other ceremonies took place across the Empire of Japan’s remaining territories in South East Asia and the Pacific, more than 7 million Japanese soldiers and sailors had been captured by the Allied Forces. By 1947 all prisoners held by America and Britain were repatriated but China did not repatriate all its Japanese prisoners until the 1950s. In 1951 the majority of the Allies signed the Treaty of San Francisco, re-establishing relations within Japan, while the Soviet Union did not formally make peace with Japan until the Soviet–Japanese Joint Declaration of 1956.

Some Japanese soldiers refused to surrender at all, believing the declaration of surrender to be Allied propaganda or never actually heard it, and held out especially on small islands in the Pacific. The last known Japanese holdout, a Taiwanese soldier named Teruo Nakamura, held out in Indonesia until 1974, almost 30 years after the end of the war.

'When You Go Home,
Tell Them Of Us And Say,
For Your Tomorrow,
We Gave Our Today.'

We have many artefacts relating to this field of conflict and many more with unique stories relating to people who were actually there if you would like to learn more why not pay us a visit.

Our VJ Commemorations

Not the VJ Day that was hoped for or planned, but in the interest of everyones safety due to covid19.
We marked it in the best way we could, this week the volunteers have been researching individuals items we have in the collection relating directly to the Far East Campaign and writing posts to bring their stories to the for front.
Our Veterans and Remembrance is at the very core of what is War Years Remembered.
We held an act of remembrance and volunteers carried out readings followed by a visit to our local War Memorial and on to a lap of the town.
Thank you all for your continuing support during these uncertain times, stay safe folks.
Together We Will Remember Them.