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16 October 2014
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Northern Ireland in WWII - RAF Ballyhalbert

I am in the process of researching the history of Ballyhalbert Village on the Ards Peninsula.

County Down

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Included within my research shall be the Second World war airfields known as RAF Ballyhalbert and RAF Kirkistown.

In order to understand the history of Ballyhalbert, I am learning about the history, archaeology and stratigraphy of the Ards Peninsula and County Down, as it is all related in one way or another.

I am also looking into the Brick and Tile Works at Glastry, just outside Ballyhalbert.


Ballyhalbert Historical Society


Clair Smith - June '08
I was just wondering- does anyone know anything about American prescence in Ballyhalbert, Co. Down during WW2?
I go to the school there, Glastry College, and, this is going to sound crazy, but I had heard that the school/ site of the school is haunted by the ghost of an American GI.
Apparently, he has been seen by our caretaker and I was wondering if anyone could send me a link to some information about American prescence there in WW2?
I was hoping to try and spot the ghost some time...

Philip Boyd -
Oct '06
Hi interesting article, and re the last section about James Filson - my father and mother were the teachers in Victoria Priamry school Ballyhalbert in the 1960's (both my mother and I are in one of the pictures in the photograhic exhibition in Frank Caughey's) and lived at Sandylands Cottage at the harbour, rented from Bobby Colwell. We moved to Belfast in 1969, and later in life I was friendly with James Filson's two sons, both motorcyclists like myself, before finding out purely by accident who they were! As to why he would have been in the newspapers? He was big in band music, running the local silver band for many years. Regarding why James Filson was stationed in Ballyhalbert - it wasn't a punishment that sent him there, it was a punishment that KEPT him there! Contrary to the published accounts of the "Battle of Ballyhalbert" JAMES was flying the first Spitfire that crashed at ballyhalbert that day!

David Gabbie - April '06
A website for Ballyhalbert has been online for almost 2 years now:

Ballyhalbert Historical Society -

An exhibition is currently on display at the Post Office in Ballyhalbert. This will remain until around the end of May 2006 as the Post office will move into the new Centra Store and the Ballyhalbert Stores building will be demolished.

Naomi Berry - April '06
I am an archaeology student at Queen's and I'm currently writing my dissertation. Much of this has involved studying the airfields on the Ards Peninsula. Much of my raw data has come from R.A.F. aerial photographs dated to 1952-3. They cover the whole of Northern Ireland, 60,000 aerial photos in all, but if the location is found on the sortie plot before hand the job is much easier. These have rarely been used so are still in good condition. They are located in the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland. I'm looking for photos of the airfield if anyone can help?

Hugh Graham - April '06
hello my name is hugh graham i was reared in tullycavey from the age of 14 after my mother married jim cavan from the old blacksmiths house behind tullycavey school refresh my memory when i left carrowdore school i worked for a short time for jack mccracken ashvale farm ballydoonan and i well remember every saturday morning taking corn to be crushed and im pretty sure it was bodens?
i wont take to much time at the moment but after i came out of the army and waitint to join the R.U.C.alfie turkington and i cleared ballyhalbert air field which he bought and turned it into a holiday park

Paul Armstrong - March '06
Does anybody know which US/USAF units were stationed in Kirkistown in 1943-1944? My reason for asking is my grandmother lived on a farm just outside Portavogie and became pregnant to an American Serviceman who was stationed there. My mother was born in June 1944 and as a result the family moved to Belfast shortly afterwards. My grandmother never spoke about this affair and we haven't been able to clear up this family mystery. I believe however that my mother has a photograph of this American Serviceman and I would like to try to find out his name and who he was. Any help on this matter would be gratefully appreciated.

Roderick Gray - Feb '06
Brian Bertram Horace Best was a pilot officer with 153 who was stationed at Ballyhalbert on 24th October 1941. He was killed (I do not know how) on 13th Novemebr 1941. He is buried in a cemetary in Lythams St Annes. He does not appear in the Commonwealth war Graves website. His name is on the memorial at Lingfield in Surrey. Was he shot down and washed up/rescued in the Irish Sea. Still investigating and have written to Hendon Royal Airforce Museum.

Victoria in Oregon, USA - Jan '06
My mum was stationed at Ballyhalbert during WWII. She was in the first group of women who were sent there. She said it was the best two years of her life. She also said that it seemed to be a place where they sent airmen to "recover," either from psychological distress or other problems. She is in the process of writing down her memories of her experiences there, which we will send to the Ballyhalbert website. She would very much like to know about her friends who were also stationed there with her, but the chances of them still being with us are slim. It would be nice to have more information out there about Ballyhalbert during the war years as there isn't much available. I will look forward to David's work on this :-).

John Barnden - Oct 05
I have recently started researching my late father's time with the Royal Engineers (1940/46). Up until D Day he was with 802 Kent Road Construction Company (RE) including a stay of duty in Ballyhalbert. From other documents I'm sure 802 were engaged in developing RAF Ballyhalbert, they arrived 11/10/40 leaving for Scotland 21/01/42. One of the frustrating aspects of my search is that I can not locate Ballyhalbert on any map. It would therefore be very much appreciated if you could help in the matter. I shall follow your site with interest as I intend to visit Ballyhalbert at some time in the future, my mother and father did many times after the war. My fathers name was Bert (Bubbles) Barnden.

John Sheehan, Bradford - October '05
Dear Tony (Osborne, see below)
I am in the process of building a model of a Spitfire flown by a Polish pilot of 315 Sqn. by the name of F/O Boleslaw Sawiak. He was involved in the shooting down of a Ju.88. on 23rd. August 1942. He was injured in the combat and made a forced landing in the Republic, the Ju.88 also crashed in the Republic and the crew where interned. Sawaiak was less fortunate, his Spitfire hit a wall in the landing and he later died in hospital in Dublin from the injuries sustained in combat and the crash. I was interested in the photo CD, would you know if there are any photos of Sawiak's aircraft I think the letters were, BL-K and the airframe number was BL959. Where did you get the disk from.

Helen Surgeoner - July '05
On the Tullykevin Road, Greyabbey end there is a brass plate on a field post about a pilot that crashed and died there during the war. Sorry can't give you the exact details as I don't live near there anymore but had noticed it when out walking on the Tullykevin Road. Also when visiting some people who use to live around that area the gentleman told us that a Lancaster landed in a field behind the Dunover Road North School in Ballywalter during the second world war.

Tony Osborne - April '05
I have recieved a CD of photo of 315 Polish Sqns, Squadron Day, at Ballyhalbert on 14th August 1942 from a contact in Poland. These include photos of the Polish CinC presenting medals and of a mass held in one of the hangars. Some of the pics will be on show from 4/5/05 to 21/5/05 in Newtownards town hall and I will be speaking to the Chronicle about them. Three of this Sqns pilots are buried at Ballycranbeg.

Clive Moore - April '05
David J Smiths book: Action stations, No.7, Military airfields of Scotland,the North East and Northern Ireland, is so far the only published book containing information on Ballyhalbert and the other airfields on the Ards peninsula. Its a useful starting point for anyone interested in any of Northern Irelands airfields and their roles during WW2.

Paul Daniel - April '04
Please could you send me any links to information about Ballyhalbert. My wife Jill is originally from Ballyhalbert and we are regular visitors to see her mother and father Jack and Doreen Hughes. We plan to move back to the area soon ourselves and I am very interested in the local history.

John Kelly& Karen kelly nee Filson - March 05
My father- in-law was a member of the R.A.F. Who was posted as a Spitfire pilot to Ballyhalbert in the second world war. He was posted there as a punishment for something or other, from somewhere in England. But the outcome of the story was he lived in Ballyeastborough which was only a few miles from Ballyhalbert. His name was James Filson D.Fc. There was an article in the Newtownards Chronicle some years ago about him. I have the article in the house some where. My wife could tell you more but she never uses the P.C. I'am sure you will have already heard something about him? My wife and I still live between Ballywlater and Greyabbey in a townland known localy as Tullycavey or Tullykevin as it says on the sign post. I myself am from Greyabbey and my wife was from Newtownards, but her mother was from Tullycavey and her name before she was married was Mary Bowden. I hope this may interest someone


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