The Coleraine Battery
The Coleraine Battery was a Light Anti Aircraft Unit of 200 volunteers raised to meet the threat of the German Blitzkrieg Attacks during WWII. The volunteers all came from the Coleraine and mid-Ulster areas of Northern Ireland. The volunteers fought their way through Scotland, Egypt, Libya, The Western Desert, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany and Italy. In 1946, one year after the defeat of the Axis powers in Europe, the Battery was disbanded. This section highlights their duties in Belgium and is illustrated with photographs taken during the war by the veterans.
Normandy The Battery became part of 5
The Battery left
at this time was terrible, always raining. We had not washed for over two
weeks. One day the
Guns were used in a ground role all the way through
The Battery moved on to
Belgium in early September 1944. It passed through Tournai (4th Sept) Brussels
(5th Sept) Argentan,
Author, "Spankey, why were you dancing with the women and children in the middle of a field?" Spankey replied, "It did not matter where you went in Belgium, everyone was so happy to be liberated from the Germans they were dancing with joy".
The Ardennes "At Nijmegan we were all getting ready to celebrate Christmas, the war was practically won at this stage, or so we thought. Trude, her father and mother and the gun crew were clubbing together to have a good Christmas. The cook, Marcus Wilton had been scalded when the stove exploded, other than that we had no serious problems.
About the 19th Dec 1944, Willie Watton, the Don R (Dispatch Rider) came up to us. He told us
to pack up as we had one hour to
move. We told him to go away. This information was hard to believe. The reason
was that Von Runstedt went through the Yanks in the
The Battle of the Bulge - Belgium - 16 Dec 1944 until 16 Jan 1945
The Germans launched the Ardennes Offensive on 16 Dec 1944. The Start Line for this offensive was sixty miles long. It ran along the German border from Monschau in the North to the southern part of the Luxembourg/German border in the South.
The German aim was to punch their way through the weak defence in the Ardennes, cross the River Meuse and take the port of Antwerp. This would sever, not only the Allied supply lines but also the Allied Armies. With this successful conclusion, the German armies intended launching an attack on their Eastern Front. By 18 December, 28th and 106th American Divisions had been overrun. The main reasons for this success included the fact that 106 Division were spread out too thinly over a twenty one mile defensive front.
On 19th December, 6th LAA Battery were ordered to move from Nijmegan. Initially the Battery were located at Hasselt along with 30 Corps who covered the Northern Line from Louvaine to Hasselt. There they were expected to halt the advancing German Armies. American 1st Army were located from Ciney to Duboy and 3rd Army were located south at Bastogne.
However, due to the valiant and tenacious fighting of the re-grouped American Armies, the German Armies were halted on 22 December. This allowed the Allied forces to be re-deployed. On 23rd December, 6th LAA Battery, under the command of 6th Airborne Division moved to Namur and operated along a line from Ciney to Dinant. (Doherty, 1988)
The Bulge, which delineated the successful containment of the German offensive, was fan shaped. The Front extended for sixty miles from Monschau in the East to Dinant in the West. The base of the fan shape was thirty miles south on the Luxembourg/German border.
By the end of January, the German Armies had been routed. Of the 500,000 Germans involved 100,000 were casualties. For the Americans 600,000 were involved and they had 81,000 casualties. The remaining Allied Armies lost 1,400 from the 55,000 involved.
The Final Advance into
"The Battery carried out security duties at
After the horrors of Belsen and San Bostel, the Battery moved to
Finally, the Battery was posted to Cuxhaven
north Germany for Dockyard duties. For the
Doherty R. (1988) Wall of Steel: The History of the 9th (Londonderry) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment RA (SR) North West Books. Limavady
Gamble R. (2006) The Coleraine Battery: The History of 6 LAA Battery RA (SR) Causeway Museum Service