Speaker for 12th March 2019

President John McGlade welcomes Norman Thorpe with Club Secretary Graham MacDonald (R)

Coleraine Probus and memories of our Coastal Defences

The Limavady WW2 historian Norman Thorpe came along to a recent Probus meeting to talk about ”Coastal Defences”. Norman stressed how all the twenty-eight airfields in N. Ireland played a very important role in the defence of merchant ships in WW2 against attack from German U-boats.

Some of the airfields were located at Ballykelly, Aldergrove, Castle Archdale, Limavady, Long Kesh and Sydenham but Norman’s talk concentrated mainly on the Limavady Air Field. This was the first airfield to be developed and its outline still appears on the satellite maps of the area.

British, American, Polish and Canadian Air Force Squadrons were stationed at Limavady from where they engaged the German U-boats who were attempting to block the essential convoys of merchant ships from America and Canada. From his extensive research Norman was able to give a detailed history of the operational and social life on the camp and war artist Charles Cundall was even commissioned to produce a painting of life on the site.

Norman gave an absorbing talk and presentation full of detailed facts and excellent photographs from the war years up to recent times. It also gave a unique insight into just how vital the role these brave airmen and crew, from different nations, working together to help keep the UK supply ships from being sunk. It was a lesson of co-operation and inter-dependence that perhaps has lessons for us all these days?

(Many thanks to Graham for providing most of this write-up)

Members may be interested in what our local council - The CCGB Council - are currently looking into to preserve the remaining 'Costal Defence structures'. Just 'Click' on this link - it will open in a new window.

If you would like to take a second look at Norman's Presentation, just 'Click' on the Shackleton aircraft below.