I started collecting when I was about 8 years of age, when I was given pieces from my paternal grandfather David McCallion. I remember as a young boy gas masks and helmets in my grandparents house as many homes in that time still had.
One in particular, a civilian gas mask in a black painted tin which had been a powdered milk tin that was originally white with blue writing on, it had been issued by the ministry of food during World War 2 as part of rationing.
Later on in life as my knowledge grew. I found out that this had been common practice with the gas mask's, to give them better protection than the issued cardboard box.
Since then I have gathered all sorts of war time memorabilia relating to both the services and to the home front. Another fond memory I have as a child was when we lived in Birmingham I visited my uncle Davy's scrap yard and got my hands on my first German helmet and badges.
Also a good source for militaria was the ole flea market at the Bull Ring in Birmingham were my Dad would take me as a boy. When we came back home from living in England we would congregate as a family at Granny and Grandads every Saturday, it was common practice with all families back then.
We would get to see Uncles, Aunts and Cousins on a regular bases and catch up, not like modern times when you only get to see relatives at births deaths and marriages.
I also have fond memories of that time of being lifted up on to Grandads knee and being told of his time in the army. I feel very privileged that he was able to speak to me about his service. Time must have softened the harshness of the Great War, so that he could talk to me about it back then.
The war to end all wars so they believed.
Another memory I have was that in the next door neighbours garden there was an Anderson Air Raid Shelter which I would often sneak in too and would get told off as it may have been filled with rats. After a recent exhibition in Ballysillan, I have found out that the shelter still exists but is now covered over, a step back in time for me will take place in the near future. I will take some pictures and add to this site. My maternal Grandfather never spoke of the war and all the Fighting Whites History is completely new to me It has been an amazing journey in the last year. Because of these times past my interest in history began, it grows with every day as I learn something new from the people I meet.
Join me in my journey to discover our past and hopefully some day we will have our own War Museum here in Northern Ireland to preserve the past so that every one can benefit and learn from it. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the members of The Great War Forum, The World War 2 Talk Forum The Commonwealth War Graves Commission and The International Committee of the Red Cross for your kind help and assistance
I would also like to thank the
The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers Museum
The Royal Ulster Rifles Museum
The Royal Irish Fusiliers Museum
The War Memorial Museum Belfast & Somme Heritage Centre Newtownards for their kind help with the research and to all those who helped in any way and gave permission to allow their material to be reproduced on here
Also a big thank you to Steven Gallagher and Brian Duffy for their marvellous work researching and restoring the family photographs with a special mention in dispatches for
Paul Quinn for his dedication and perseverance in mounting the medals and framing them correctly
Not forgetting all the other like minded people involved in War Years Remembered and making it what it is today