Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council’s Coleraine Museum at Coleraine Town, will hold an exhibition running from the 1st October until 31st October 2015. The exhibition will be in recognition of the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in 1945.
The display will include the Coleraine Battery Collection, gifted to the Museum by the Old Comrades Association, and will explore other relevant stories as revealed by the collection.
The 6 Light Anti–Aircraft Battery Royal Artillery, known as the Coleraine Battery, was a Supplementary Reserve of personnel drawn from North Londonderry and Mid-Ulster Districts. Nearly two hundred men from Coleraine, Portrush, Portstewart, Castlerock, Bushmills, Maghera, Upperlands, Tobermore and Kilrea joined the Coleraine Battery.
Sarah Carson, Collections Access Officer for Coleraine Museum, said, “The exhibition uses objects and photographs to follow the journey of the Coleraine Battery through North Africa and Europe and then looks at what the men were doing in the final stages of the war.
“The exhibition will also include objects connected with John and William McCrory, Sir Arthur Hezlet, Harry Cummins, and the work of Mrs Robertson, who was involved in First Aid Civil Defence, among other local organisations.
“Included in the exhibition is the story of Norman Irwin, the only local surviving veteran of the Coleraine Battery. Norman was manning guns at Port Said and Port Fuad at the north entrance of the Suez Canal where he invented a tool kit that allowed him to clean his own gun. This was at a time when the basic maintenance tool kit required to do this was unavailable.
“On discovering Norman’s invention, Major Brian Clark changed Norman’s job. He was taken from manning guns to maintaining all the guns in his troop. After this, Norman left the Battery. There was a shortage of Engineers and he was posted to the Port Workshops in Port Said. The main task at the workshop was to check that all the equipment coming into the Desert campaign was ready for use.
“Norman says that “on many occasions this equipment had been sabotaged before it reached us.” During a late shift in the workshop, an Orderly Sergeant came in looking for a volunteer to go to a Regiment stationed in the Western Dessert. There were two takers, one of whom was Norman.
“The men tossed a coin and Norman was transferred to the Royal Army Ordnance Corps and then attached to the201 Guards Brigade until the end of the war. His job was to organise the recovery of damaged vehicles and equipment from the battlefields as the brigade fought their way from Salerno to Monte Cassino. Norman was pulled out of line at Monte Cassino and sent down to Sorrento. There he gave all of his equipment to the Canadian Army, boarded the Capetown Castle and made his way home.
“The Museum will also host a heritage talk on 15th October at 7.30pm where Ronnie Gamble, author of The Coleraine Battery: The History of 6 Light Anti-Aircraft Battery RA (SR) 1939 – 1945 will speak on the ‘Battery’ at the end of the Second World War. Everyone is welcome.”
For further information contact Sarah Carson, Collections Access Officer at Coleraine Museum on 028 7034 7213 or email [email protected]