Join us at the Northern Ireland War Memorial for Festive Fun with wartime games and toys. Learn how people celebrated Christmas under the restraints of rationing and try your hand in our lucky dip or have a go at cracking a secret Christmas message.
Play with wartime games and toys
Listen to well-loved Christmas songs and singalong
Sample our ration recipe Christmas Cake – made with dried eggs
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‘Petticoat Pilots: Biographies and Achievements of Irish Female Aviators, 1909-1939’ by Michael Traynor
Monday 25th November – 7pm to 9pm
On Monday 25th November at 7pm, Michael Traynor will launch his book ‘Petticoat Pilots: Biographies and Achievements of Irish Female Aviators, 1909-1939‘ at the Northern Ireland War Memorial.
The book will be launched by Dr Wendy Austin, MBE and the evening hosted by aviation historian and author, Guy Warner.
The book is the result of eight years research and comprises 205,000 words on 650 pages divided into two volumes. The detailed index extends to 45 pages. There are 773 photographs most of them are from private family collections and never before been published. It is being offered at a special discounted price of £45 for both volumes purchased on the night. The Foreword is provided by President Michael D. Higgins.
Please see the attached leaflet for a blurb and further info.
Act of Remembrance at the Northern Ireland War Memorial
On Monday 11 November the Northern Ireland War Memorial held a short ceremony to commemorate Armistice Day.
This act of remembrance was attended by veterans, trustees, council members and staff of the Northern Ireland War Memorial, which operates an accredited museum in the Cathedral Quarter of Belfast.
A wreath was placed on a memorial by Mrs Maureen Lightbody, a former Wren who was based at Grey Point Fort and Bangor’s Royal Hotel during the Second World War. The granite memorial holds the museum’s Books of Remembrance for the fallen in the First and Second World War.
The museum tells the story of how Northern Ireland was affected by and contributed to the Second World War. It has a growing collection and offers a range of family events and workshops for schools and community groups. Wren Maureen Lightbody née Oughton, and other veterans in attendance including Major Victor Clarke and Flight Lieutenant Bill Eames have recently contributed to the museum’s ongoing oral history project, The War and Me, which seeks to capture wartime memories of Northern Ireland.
Object of the month October 2019 is a page taken from one of many scrapbooks held by NIWM that were created by our former curator, John Potter, during his school days.
The Northern Ireland War Memorial is fortunate to hold his scrapbooks right from the build up and eventual outbreak of war in the late summer of 1939 through to the end of the war in 1945.
We have chosen this particular page (from NIWM:2015.2111.2) as it shows that despite the recent outbreak of war, Remembrance Day was still marked annually. John thoughtfully collected and included in his scrapbook a British Legion poppy alongside a rather poignant poem by Gerald Sanger entitled ‘Remembrance 1939’.
The Royal British Legion pop up shop is currently at NIWM 09.30-16.00 Mon-Friday until Friday 8th November.
25th September marks the end of Operation Market Garden. The plan was to use airborne forces to seize and hold strategic bridges near the Dutch-German border to allow armoured ground units to advance and create a route into Germany.
NIWM’s Object of the Month for September 2019 is this Flying Log Book (NIWM:2018.2193) that belonged to Leading aircraftman Robert Lowry Thompson who served with No. 271 Squadron. From the images you can see that he was involved in towing gliders to a landing zone (L.Z.) near Arnhem, resupply missions and also the evacuation of casualties.
Ultimately, Operation Market Garden failed to secure a bridgehead across the Rhine and into Germany.
Trustees of the Northern Ireland War Memorial travel to Bushmills to celebrate local artist James McKendry
Staff and Trustees of the NIWM travelled to Bushmills on Thursday 5th
September for their annual off-site board meeting, this year in the Bushmills
Inn Hotel. They seized this opportunity to meet local artist, James McKendry,
who was commissioned by the NIWM back in 1960 to create two large copper friezes
for the original War Memorial building which opened on Waring Street Belfast in
1963. The copper friezes are 30 feet in length each and they are on display in
the museum which relocated to Talbot Street in 2008. They are admired by approximately
11,000 visitors to the NIWM every year.
The upper frieze records
the presence of the United States military in Northern Ireland from 1942 to
1944. US soldiers are shown training in the countryside in Northern
Ireland under a 48-star US flag. The artist depicts airfields, the Causeway
headlands, Port Moon Bay, a traditional Ulster five-bar farm gate and an Antrim
round tower. The troops are shown progressing from left to right, disciplined
and ordered, equipped with weapons and armaments, ready to embark for the
The lower frieze illustrates
the war effort of men and women on the home front. Depicted left to right are
farmers gathering flax and corn, a woman weaving, stone masons rebuilding Belfast
after the air raids, a barrage balloon tethered above a linen mill, a fishing
boat, a shipbuilding crane, heavy engineering, a welder at work and a
countryside scene which includes ‘the steeple’ in Antrim.
acclaimed work can be found in corporate and private collections around the
world, including that of the Duke of Edinburgh. McKendry
has executed many commissioned murals and sculptures for churches and public
buildings in Ireland and abroad. McKendry is now retired and lives in
Bushmills with his wife Norri.
In 2018 the NIWM interviewed James McKendry about the artwork he created and how the commission came about in 1960. This was done as part of the NIWM’s ongoing The War and Me oral history project which aims to interview people with wartime memories. James’s interview has now been transcribed and is available to researchers. James remains very proud of the friezes he made for the NIWM, which are to this day his largest works. He was honoured to attend this special event to celebrate his work.
Staff and Trustees of the NIWM were also joined by Leonard Quigg BEM and local historian Keith Beattie as they visited the Robert Quigg VC Memorial, which the NIWM gave grant assistance to in 2016.
On this day, 3rd September 1939 Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain broadcast to the nation that war had been declared against Germany. That evening the Belfast Telegraph printed a special Sunday edition to carry the news.
The Telegraph Building was later damaged in the Blitz in April/May 1941. To mark the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War, NIWM held two walking tours around the Cathedral Quarter along streets destroyed by the Belfast Blitz on Tuesday 3rd September 2019.
If any one is interested in doing the tour, it has been designed so that it can be self-led and copies of the map are available from the museum.
All images courtesy and copyright of the Belfast Telegraph.
To commemorate the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War, NIWM is screening the 1939 film The Lion Has Wings throughout the week beginning Monday 2nd September 2019.
The Lion Has Wings (1939) was directed by Belfast-born Brian Desmond Hurst. NIWM is working with the Brian Desmond Hurst Estate to highlight his films on conflict and the role of propaganda and film making during the Second World War. This is the first in a series of screenings planned to take place over the coming years.
NIWM have also produced a commemorative booklet about the production of The Lion Has Wings with Allan Esler Smith, great-nephew of Brian Desmond Hurst. The booklet will be available to all visitors and a digital copy can be downloaded below.
The Lion Has Wings was to be the first film output from British studios in the Second World War. It propelled recruitment into the Royal Air Force (RAF) and helped keep cinemas open when air raids threatened their closure.
During these events, NIWM will also display a small exhibition of original material from the estate of Brian Desmond Hurst.
The dates and times of the screenings are as below:
Monday 2nd September at 2pm
Tuesday 3rd September at 2.30pm
Wednesday 4th September at 1.40pm *Special Introduction* by Alderman Marion Smith and Bob Hurst, great niece and nephew of Brian Desmond Hurst, who will explain Hurst’s East Belfast roots, his journey to Hollywood via Gallipoli (with the Royal Irish Rifles) and his prolific war film output.
Our object of the month for August is a wartime utility lighter (NIWM:2011.700) that belonged to Captain Richard Pim.
After the declaration of war in September 1939, Pim, who had served with the Ulster Division of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR) on-board HMS Caroline, asked to be released from his role as an adviser to the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, Lord Craigavon and made his way to the Admiralty in London.
He was directed to establish a map room for the new First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill.
In 2014, the Northern Ireland War Memorial published ‘Pim and Churchill’s Map Room’ which details Pim’s experiences as he worked for Churchill and accompanied him on his travels around the world, bringing the map room with him.