12 C
Ballymoney
Friday, April 23, 2021

THE PROSPECT OF PEACE, VICTORY APPROACHES – Keith Beattie
T

As VE Day approaches, local historian Keith Beattie, is telling some of the local stories from Ballymoney area. Here Keith sets the scene in Ballymoney at that time.

During the harsh winter of 1944, there were already expectations of a German surrender. People in Ballymoney openly anticipated the Allies winning the war and questioned the restrictions which were still in place on groceries, fuel or traveling across the Irish Sea.

- Advertisement -

For some, the years of conflict had changed their perspective on life and the young relished every opportunity to enjoy themselves. As expected, the older generation resolutely upheld their traditional values and grew concerned about a moral decline in the post war society. In March 1945, Ballymoney Urban District Council were forced, against their wishes, to issue a license which allowed dancing on a Sunday. The town’s Presbyterian and Methodist congregations were appalled and warned of inevitable public disturbances every Sabbath night.

UNEMPLOYMENT

- Advertisement -

Post-war life was causing concern among servicemen. With unemployment in Northern Ireland in March reaching over 21,000, and rising, one soldier wrote to the Coleraine Chronicle expressing worries about his future:

“…we know that when we have been home for a few months our efforts will all have been forgotten (whether we are OK or on crutches). We just want to come home to some work and not false promises.”

WELLINGTON CRASH

- Advertisement -

Impending peace did not prevent an angry magistrate giving a firm warning and a £1 fine to a souvenir hunter. The young man was charged with stealing an indicator light from a RAF Wellington bomber which had crashed near Stranocum House in November 1944 (thankfully all the crew survived). The accused had found the item on the ground 100 yards from the burning plane. The crash had attracted a considerable crowd and other debris is known to have gone missing, never to be recovered.

REFUGEES BECOME RESTLESS

When the brave air crew on the Wellington avoided crashing into Stranocum House they saved many lives, not just their own. It was the home of the Ford-Hutchinson family but had been taken over by the government early in the war to be used as a hostel for refugees, firstly for children and, in September 1944, for elderly Gibraltans. By April 1945, the ageing residents were becoming impatient to return home; not even repeat visits by the Stranocum Dance Band seemed to appease them. It would be several months before they could be repatriated and Stranocum House returned to the Ford-Hutchinson family.

On Friday, V.E. celebrations in Ballymoney.

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

LATEST

Covid-19 related deaths: week ending 16th April 2021

Latest figures published today by NISRA show that 10 deaths involving Covid-19 occurred in the week 10th April to 16th April 2021. The total...

We must not ease up against virus – Health Minister

Health Minister Robin Swann has called for a concerted community-wide effort against COVID-19, as Northern Ireland prepares to gradually ease out of lockdown restrictions. The...

Vaccination programme continues at pace

The latest detailed breakdown of Northern Ireland’s COVID-19 vaccination programme shows that around 90% of over 50s have received their first vaccine. Patricia Donnelly, head...

Mayor welcomes progress on International Appalachian Trail improvements

The Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council has visited part of the International Appalachian Trail overlooking Magilligan where improvement work is helping to enhance the renowned walking route. Alderman Mark Fielding joined contractors Campbell Civils at the picturesque Gortmore Viewing Point to see progress on the installation of…