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.


An extraordinary Life

Introducing Ted Ross, Royal Air Force

Born on 7th January 1922, Robert Edward “Ted” Ross was one of six children, five brothers (Dan, Alec, Jim, Ted and Bill) and one sister (Mary). Four of the brothers served with the RAF during the war and one was in the Navy. All were to survive the war. His mother was a widow and was left to bring her motley crew of youngsters up by herself. Ted and his siblings attended the Liverpool Blue Coat School, as Ted’s father had been a Mason. His father died of lead poisoning as he was a painter of boats and ships.
Ted had a twin, Bill (who joined the Navy and was an Able-seaman, and was sunk twice, but survived both times). Bill eventually “jumped ship” in New Zealand, where he married and remained to the end of his days.
Another brother (Alec) was already in the RAF at the start of the war and was stationed in Malta. He controlled the RADAR in Malta and was present when the Germans began to jam the British RADAR. The RAF sent a signal to London to ask what to do and were told to keep up with the RADAR. The Germans eventually gave up jamming the signal, as they thought it wasn’t working because the RAF were continuing to use the RADAR… it was working well enough but the boffins in London realised the German mentality that they would give up!
Ted was trained as an apprentice upholsterer but hated every minute of it. He had previously driven a horse and cart for a delivery company in Liverpool, where he was born. He was also a member of the Home Guard (who chased him up for his uniform whilst he was in Gibraltar with the RAF, despite him having returned it to them before he joined the RAF!)
At the outbreak of war he decided to join the RAF, hoping to become a Wireless Operator Air Gunner, as he had passed all the RAF tests. He headed off to Blackpool to start training. At Blackpool it was discovered that Ted’s left eye was not as strong as his right, so he was unable to take to the air.
He continued to train at Blackpool as a Wireless Operator. He then moved to Compton Bassett as he was being advised to train to become a DF (Direction Finder – getting aircraft bearings). Following training at this, he moved to Lynton-on-Ouse in Yorkshire, and was involved in the large night-time raids with Bomber Command (working in a small DF hut on the base, he said it was often “very busy” when the raids were heading back).

He then got ready to be stationed abroad, thinking he was going to South Africa, but being kitted out for the Middle East. Aboard the ship the Llanstephan Castle they docked at Gibraltar where six names were read out (all DF operators, Ted was one) and told that they would be getting off. The six men were told that they would be building and setting up a DF station on Gibraltar, from scratch. They joined the ordinary Signals, using the equipment set up by the Royal Navy (called “ROCK WT” and built inside the rock) until their little hut, just off the runway, could be built. They worked shifts 8am to 2pm, 2pm to 10pm then 10pm to 8am.
They were in touch at all times with the likes of Malta and all movement around Gibraltar, often coming to the aid of stricken aircrew who had to ditch in the sea, by establishing their bearing from Gibraltar to allow a rescue party to head out to pick them up.
Nearly all of their contact with London was in coded form, with at times Top Priority messages being sent as: O break A (OBKA) for Aircraft
O break U (OBKU) for general information
and very rarely both OBKA and OBKU for top secret Ultra, for example when Ted was ordered to send the message to London informing them of the death of Polish General Wladyslaw Sikorski in Gibraltar.

Ted was in the Rock when Sikorski’s plane plunged in to the sea having just taken off from Gibraltar. All on board were killed, except the British pilot. Ted was ordered to send this top secret message (which he did not know the contents of, until at least 1 hour after he sent it, when the news broke to the base). There is still a lot of controversy about the death of Sikorski, with conspiracy theories going round about Russian involvement etc, to this day. A review in 1969 found it was an accident, though the presence of Kim Philby as the head of security in Gibraltar at the time of the accident, has fanned the flames somewhat.

Ted spent 18 months in Gibraltar, and during that time he was involved, unwittingly, in Operation Mincemeat. Ted was the radio operator who received a message from “a stricken aircraft off Finistere” (in reality, the submarine HMS Seraph, carrying the body of “Major William Martin” (Glyndwyr Martin)),as it was about “to ditch in the sea”.

Ted communicated with the “aircraft” and was able to get a bearing from them. The men in the hut had previously received a message detailing how to deal with any future SOS messages. They were to respond as follows : “RRR SOS Send position, course and speed.” They filed this away. Shortly after this they received the message, actually at 0212 on the 24th April 1943.

“Plane”: SOS SOS SOS SOS V GBAW GBAW SOS K True bearing 324 degrees from Gibraltar
Ted: SOS SOS (to alter other stations)
SOS SOS GBAW GBAW from GFG4 RRR SOS Send position, course speed.
There was a delay, and Ted thought they hadn’t heard him. He was about to call again, when up he came….
“Plane”: GFG4 from GBAW Off Finnistere, course 170 degrees, speed 170
Ted replied to acknowledge the message and the “plane” operator came back with “R” then screwed down his Morse key, sending a continuous signal, the normal procedure from an aircraft about to ditch in the sea.
The signal suddenly stopped at 0218 (the time Major Martin’s wristwatch stopped) indicating a crash in to the sea (or the operator had switched off his transmitter). Ted called the aircraft a few more times, but nothing was heard back.

Shortly after (0230) Ted heard the Gibraltar RAF Rescue boat head out to sea (he assumed to come to the aid of the “plane”, later learning from a friend (Alan Dixon) who had been the RAF Radio Operator on the launch that they had been sent out on a regular exercise. The authorities knew that Germany was listening in to all communications, so this prepared the ground well for when the body of Major Martin washed up on the Spanish shore. Ted was not to realise his part in Mincemeat until 10 years later when he watched the film “The Man Who Never Was”, and it all fell in to place. Ted checked dates of the Operation against his own dates…and they matched! (In a strange twist of irony, one of Ted’s colleagues who had been the only other person in the DF hut in Gibraltar when Ted communicated with the “Man Who Never Was”, drowned whilst out swimming, and his body washed up on a beach in Spain.)

Following his time in Gibraltar, Ted found he was to be sent to Italy, to begin work on forming the HQ of the Balkan Air Force. He travelled to Italy via North Africa (for a couple of months) before arriving in Bari. Whilst receiving and sending messages to agents in Yugoslavia, Greece and Albania, Ted was asked by Flt Sgt. Porter ( a Belfast man) if he would like to go to Yugoslavia to assist Air Liaison Officer Fl.Lt. Lawson at the other end. Ted said he would. He spent 5 days getting to know the equipment (a B2 receiver, 12 O batteries and an Onan Charging Machine) that he would use when he would be working with Major Carmel, who was in turn working with Tito’s Partisans. Ted was to go to a place called Niksic, to the HQ of the 2nd Partisan Brigade.
After a short parachute training course (a few jumps out of a balloon), Ted was ready to be dropped in to Yugoslavia. Prior to him going, he was told that he was to accompany Vice Marshall Carter on a mission to meet with Tito. Despite taking off and flying to their destination, they were unable to locate their “Eureka” landing beacons, and had to return to base. Ted was told to get a bacon sarnie and a bit of kip, before they would try again.
When Ted awoke, he was told that Air Vice Marshall Carter had gone on ahead, and taken another Radio Operator with him, a newly trained young fellow called Kenneth Law. Ted thought nothing of it. It wasn’t until after the war that Ted heard that that mission had ended with the plane crashing, and all occupants being killed.
Ted was then told that he was no longer going to be parachuted in to Yugoslavia, but instead he and a colleague (his friend) Alan Dixon were to be dropped off by a Naval Supply Ship (a landing craft with a Scottish crew and plenty of Whisky) at a small fishing village to the south of Dubrovnik, with all their equipment. They would be met by the RAF and driven to Niksic. They arrived off the boat at 3am, but there was no one there to meet them. They eventually asked a man in a hut to help them (he initially thought they were Germans and refused to speak to them, but on hearing they were English, he made a few telephone calls).
Ted and Alan had all their equipment (radios and beacons), their standard issue Smith and Wesson revolvers (which Ted said he only ever fired once whilst playing a target shooting game with his chums), their normal pack to carry and packed away in this kit, Ted’s favourite instrument, his mouth organ (which he still played brilliantly, well in to his nineties).
A big Partisan arrived with 3 mules (one of them called “Snowy”), and their equipment was packed on to them and they began their slow journey over the mountains to the base (if only they had waited another few hours, as the RAF lift arrived at 10am, by which time they were away!)
When they finally got closer to Niksic (it took an overnight stay), they were met by a jeep and a warning that Major Carmel was furious at them for getting lost and for taking so long to get to Niksic (as his jeep had been tied up for two days looking for them!)
The two of them got on to base and met Fl. Lt. Lawson, and were told that breakfast was at 8am sharp, and they had better get themselves sorted asap. Needless to say, not knowing their way about his new camp, they missed breakfast and so received a “bollocking” from (Army) Major Carmel on an empty stomach (they were later allowed to get something to eat and then realised that Major Carmel was one of the nicest men they worked with!)
Ted and Alan stayed in farm-houses whilst sending and receiving messages with the Partisans. They worked with a local (Stevioroski, called Stevie by Ted and Alan, a man who made his own Plum Raki on a still!) They had to identify DZ (drop zones) for the equipment to get to the Partisans, using giant burnt letters on the ground.
As the war proceeded Ted was called back to Bari to be informed that he was to then go further North to work for Sq. Ldr. Matthius, directing planes in on raids etc. as the Germans retreated. The locals were doing their best to seek bloody revenge on any retreating Germans.

Ted spent the rest of the war in Niksic. At the end of the war, Ted said that the mood of the Yugoslavians changed towards them. They were treating the RAF people like prisoners-of-war (even giving Ted a form to fill in to say he was a prisoner-of-war, Ted was advised by Sq Ldr Matthius not to sign it). This was most probably down to the way the Partisans had been promised the land at Trieste, but were denied it at the end of the war.
Ted eventually got out of Yugoslavia (via a Baltimore plane, Ted was in the bomb-bay, staring at the ground) and headed to RAF Valley in Anglesey for demob.

After his wartime service and with the unique skills that he had, he wasn’t long out of work. He worked at various civil airports from Liverpool to the Belfast International at Aldergrove and was instrumental in setting it up.
This is where he met his wife Ann and they were married in 1950, sadly Ann passed away in 2008.

He was offered a job in the DF station of Speak Airport in Liverpool (later to become Liverpool John Lennon), assisting the Air Traffic Controllers. During the interview for the job, Ted was asked “If I said to you what Night Effect was, what would you immediately think?” On Ted’s reply of “ Night effect can be summarized as the arrival at the receiving frame of an abnormally polarised wave with a vertical angle of incidence”, the man asked him “when can you start?” Ted was able to quote this answer verbatim until just before his death.
Ted remained at Liverpool Airport until he was posted to Nutts Corner (which just being set up as a civil airport in Northern Ireland) where he met his wife, Ann. They both took the bus to Nutts Corner from Belfast each day, and “hit it off very quickly” (Ted and Ann married in 1950 and had 58 years of happiness together, until Ann sadly passed away in 2008).

There is a bigger story to come on Ted’s amazing life soon to be unveiled at War Years Remembered some of which is hush hush at present, from working at Gilnahirk Listening Station to another near miss with death while working for GCHQ.

With failing health Ted eventually went to live in the Somme Nursing Home in 2019. There he was regularly visited by a long list of relatives and friends.
Ted passed away in his sleep on 20th March 2020 at the grand age of 98 years. He had an amazing life and cheated death many times. He is sadly missed by his relatives and many, many friends.

Sadly due to Covid19 this man did not get the send of he so rightfully deserved, no other man I know would of so rightly deserved to have a flag draped coffin, gun carriage funeral and guard of honour with thousands of mourners as he did.
Knowing Ted he would be looking down and wondering what all the fuss was about a humble quiet man, we may never know the full extent of his heroic deeds as he wasn’t one to brag, like most of our real hero’s modest till the end.
Rest assured his wartime contributions would of helped to save thousands of lives, we owe men and women like Ted a debt of gratitude that can never be paid.

On the 11th November we will be unveiling a display to his honour and remembering him and VJ veteran Jim Lennon at our annual Remembrance Service who sadly passed away during the Covid19 pandemic.


Ted Ross and his family
and a close friend Peter Forbes


Operation Mincemeat
Operation Husky
Polish Second World War
Yugoslavia Partisans
Royal Air Force

Film The Man Who Never Was