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"When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say, 
For Your Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today"

8th Belfast H.A.A. Regt.

aka   'The Twelve Mile Snipers'
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The Men

Sergeant William Adrain - Diary and Biography

D. J. Bailie - War Diary and Photographs

Colonel Wm. N. Brann

Sgt. Thomas Herbert Coulter (Herbie)

Jimmy Cunningham's Private Army Comes Home

L/Sgt. Bertie Goodwin

Gunner Harry Grist

2/Lt. William George Hales

Gunner Herbert Hanley

Ken Heath

Bdr. William (Buttons) Hunter

Irvine Brothers 23rd Battery

Bdr. J. C. Irvine 23rd Battery

Bdr. Thomas Henderson Kane

Tommy and Albert Kinnon 21st and 23rd Bty.

 Gnr. Jim Lennon's War Records - Photos

Sgt. Joseph Harold Lynn (aka Harry-Joe)

Matchett Brothers 23rd Battery

L/Bdr. Harry Joseph Mawhinney 22nd Battery

Gunner Thomas Mercer 21st Battery

 Jimmy McKittrick

Bdr. Thomas McLaughlin

Colonel Harry Porter

Sgt. Billy Wilson 23rd Battery

Sidney Ernest Wright - Diary & Photographs


N-O-K- Dec'd Personnel 21/22/23 Hy.A.A.

Posted/Repatriated from 23 Hy.A.A.

List of Additional Soldiers

List of names, no addresses 23rd Bty.

Memorial Service Book (list of names) B Troop

22nd Bty. Memorial Brochure  names, addresses

23rd Bty. Memorial Brochure  names, addresses

RHQ/REME Memorial Brochure, addresses

Nominal Roll 21st Bty. all ranks

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Nominal Roll 23rd Bty. all ranks

8th Belfast HAA Nominal Roll 21st Battery

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8th Belfast HAA Nominal Roll 23rd Battery

Alterations & Additions to Nom. Rolls 23rd

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SEAC March 1944



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Burma Star Luncheon 2009

St. Annes and Lansdowne Court Hotel Laying-up of Burma Star Standard 3rd October 2010



Obituaries  *  Memorials  Changi Prison Chapel

8th Belfast HAA History
by Colonel Murray Barnes, OBE , TD.

A short History of The 8th (Belfast) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment Royal Artillery (Supplementary Reserve)
by Harry Porter


Dean Houston McKelvey's Sermon
3rd October 2010

Extract from Coralie Kinahan's book
'Behind Every Great Man'
"Robin's War"


Video Page

Harry Porters film of the Twelve Mile Snipers
(in 3 parts)

Burma Star Luncheon

The Last Parade

and more....


other WW2 stories

Cpl. William F. Davison

Belfast Telegraph Tuesday June, 6, 1944 Invasion


Go to Photographs in St. Annes and Lansdowne Court Hotel 3rd October 2010

Dean Houston McKelvey and J. McCoy Tweedie with the Burma Star Standard

Address given by Dean Houston McKelvey at service on Sunday 3rd, 2010, at the laying up of the standard of the Northern Ireland Branch of the Burma Star Association.

This service is an Act of Remembrance for those who fell

It is also an Act of Remembrance and Thanksgiving for those who founded the Belfast Branch of the Burma Star Association and who over the years since have kept faith with those who fell through providing a fellowship of understanding and support based upon shared experiences; through providing widows, dependants  and children with a community of care and a rich social life.

It is right and fitting that whilst there are enough of the Old and Bold to muster these achievements should be marked in a significant way before God and man and the contributions of the members of the Burma Star Association in this city and province be recognised once more.

This service cannot first of all be other than an Act of Remembrance for those who fell.

The statistics on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission make for stark reading in places with strange names like Kohima and Imphal.

In particular within this community we recognise the high price paid by the First Battalion of the Inniskillings in the first battle of the Arakan peninsula when within a matter of days the battalion was so depleted it was not committed to the line again during the war. The going is tough indeed when you lose three commanding officers within two days.

The cost was high in Burma, and it was often in the most difficult of circumstances.  The bravery of those who died alone, suffering immense pain, but refusing to cry out lest they give away the presence of their comrades to the enemy. The courage of those who perforce had to be left behind and if they survived it was in the hands of a fairly callous and cruel enemy.

I was privileged on a few occasions to be taken into the confidences of a few of those who survived. It impacts on your life when someone of the caliber of the late Colonel Jack Baillie confides in you his recollection of being made to watch the beheading of one of his closest friends in the POW camp.

Or the memory of having preached at Colonel O’Hara Logan’s funeral and standing afterwards at the church door shaking hands with a man who had tears in his eyes, and who said simply and profoundly, “It was O’Hara’s squadron which brought us back from the camps”.

The life stories of former parishioners who had been in those camps, and their extreme, understandable reluctance to revisit the memories of days which still impacted on them. But through their membership of the association, they were amongst others who understood them better than any other part of society.

But this Act of remembrance surrounded as it is by death and suffering, indeed of immeasurable pain, is rightly surrounded by pride. In these circumstances pride is not  sin, it is a prerequisite.

“When you go home tell them of us and say...”

And you will have to forgive a former chaplain to TA Gunners  that I am not alone in appreciating and respecting those photographs taken at their homecoming of the 8th City of Belfast Regiment parading through the streets of this city in their distinctive Slim type headwear and uniform under the command of Colonel Cunningham. I am delighted that his sons and family are with us today.

But no matter what the service or the cap badge, in the Burma Star Association this record of service continued.

It was not insignificant that the Association came to this cathedral on Sunday 12th April, 1953, for the dedication of their standard. These were men and women who served God, King and Country... and the order is significant. God, King and Country.

All the father figures that I knew in the Burma Star Association were church men. And indeed it is highly likely that this cathedral would not be as it is today without the contribution of the former adjutant of the 8th, Sir Robin Kinahan, church warden, confidant of deans, Mayor of this city, enabler of the Samaritans, networker for good supreme.

At the service in 1953, the Standard was dedicated by Dean Cyril Elliott, a former First War chaplain, and later Bishop of Connor, and by whom I was privileged to be ordained in this cathedral.

The sermon was given by a former Vicar choral of the cathedral, Canon Graham Craig who had served as a chaplain in Burma. Last week his son David phoned from Scotland to apologise that events were preventing him from attending today.

The hymns and the lessons used at that service are those we are using today. At the dedication the lessons were read by Major, the Right Honourable Ivan Neill, the then Minister for Labour at Stormont, and Major General Hawthorn, the Chairman of Council of the Burma Star Association.

I am no stranger to ex-service affairs having been for over 20 years area chaplain to the Royal British Legion, and for a period chaplain to the Association following the late Morwood Meldrum, but I have been taken aback and delighted at the memories which some of you have shared with me in the weeks leading into this service. In the ten years I have been here we have organised well over 100 civic services including several with Royal visitors, but none have come within miles of the nature of the response to this one.

The Forgotten Army they may have been labelled, but due to the Burma Star Association and the contribution of service made to this city and province by those who returned, and their families, that is not the case today.

I would like to share with you some of the feedback this service evoked.

A son writes:
“Dad came home with some of the long-term problems suffered by many who were involved in the conflict and although he would often talk quite freely of his experiences he had no real desire to become involved in reunions. In view of his war time experiences he refused to fly until he was into his 60's when mother was able to twist his arm.

“Dad had a successful career in insurance which absorbed much of his time. Later in his career he was staying overnight at Claridges  during a business trip and at one of the nearby tables in the restaurant was Sir Robin Kinahan, then Lord Mayor of Belfast, who was in London to attend a meeting to discuss the troubles. They recognised one another and had a real good chat about the 'old days'. Dad's wartime diary covering his years in India is now on the 8th Belfast web site in full. It doesn't deal with much of the operational activities but is quite a good piece of social history.”

Heather, a daughter who travelled from England to be here, wrote to me in a letter - “Although it will be a very emotional and very sad day for me - and I am sure many others, it will be an event I could not miss.

“My dad Harry is one of the surviving Burma Star members. Throughout my life the Burma Star has been a very strong presence and my heart is filled with many happy memories.

“The Burma Star Association was like a family. everyone was involved. Daddy tells me it was 43 years ago he was president and I can hardly believe it. This service will be the end of an era and I am heart broken at the thought of what this really means.

“However memories have a wonderful way of eliminating sadness. V. J. Day parades, Lord Mountbatten at The City Hall having his photo taken with ‘the boys’, autographs of prominent people on ‘Burma Star Dinner menus (which I still have), the little boxes of chocolates the Ladies got, and which Mummy always shared, the bow ties and beautiful ball gowns worn by my dad and mum on the formal occasions, photos in the paper especially the one taken with my mum and dad and Lord and Lady Kinahan, meetings in the International Hotel (which is no more) where I thought I was so grown up when at the age of 10, I had my first Coke with “Lemon and Ice” wow!

“Christmas would not have been Christmas without the Burma Star Ballot. (Sorry!). In 1963 or 4, I won the 25 first prize. We bought a Dansette record player. I was allowed one record and bought the Beatles ‘She Loves You’ and my sister Gillian bought Petula Clark ‘Down Town’. What a thrill!

“My proudest moment was in 1995 when I spent the weekend in London with Daddy. We attended the last Burma Star Reunion at the Albert Hall. Bob, Tom, many others had also travelled from Belfast and to be part of their celebrations was wonderful. I could go on and on the memories keep flooding back.

“Many of the faces I see in my heart are no longer with us (including my Mum) but they are as clear as day to me. The pride I feel about these men goes beyond words. My life is richer for the association with them. The traditions and respect are being carried on by my children who are immensely proud of their Grand-da.

“This service is the laying up of the standard it is not the laying up of the gratitude, thanks, respect and pride for what these ‘boys’ did for us. they are all heroes and for me the biggest hero is my Dad.”

To those who served in Burma and who are with us today:

Thank you for being here, you bear witness. Thank you for what you did then, and since. And I hope and pray that it is still a long road winding before you, and that you will continue to meet it with the same pawky, self-deprecating humour which I think was nurtured in theatre, and is something I particularly associate with the members of the Association.

It is apt and good that the standard rests upon the altar. Both represent Suffering, Sacrifice and Service.

The Christ who suffered pain on the cross... witnessing to the love of God for us.

The Christ who was sacrificed on the Cross so that we could enjoy the freedom of being children of God.
The Servant Christ - who humbly washed the feet of his followers.

You, the members of the Burma Star Association and your comrades from the Association who have gone before... You have kept the faith with those who fell in action, with those who died in captivity, with those who later suffered for their service.

So, please do not leave this place feeling depressed or down hearted by the inevitable passage of time. Rather, shoulders back, heads up - You have kept faith with your comrades, and before God and man, I say - “Well done. Mission accomplished in war and peace. Thank you. God speed.”