Frontline Ulster

Military History in the north of Ireland and beyond

The legacies left behind following any conflict can be far reaching. While we may not have been on the conventional frontline, events in ‘our wee country’ have had considerable impact. This site aims to be more than a fan site, or photo album; I hope to reveal the rich variety of defensive structures and sites that sit on the north of this island, from Martello towers built to repel a Napoleonic invasion in the early 19th Century to the huge temporary camps set up to prepare soldiers to fight on the frontline in Europe in 1914. More recently, and in living memory are the defensive and technical sites contributing to the defeat of Fascism in the mid 20th Century and the rapid development of often improvised protective structures in support of the fight against Irish terrorism.

I will try to present material in as impartial and accurate a way as possible, in particular for those areas which may still be sensitive, but my aim is to focus on the physical and not deal with the complex personal stories surrounding these sites. Please enjoy this site and I hope you will share and come back to keep updated as it continues to grow.


Read the latest articles

  • Flickr Album Locations
    The problem with not having a single platform that best collates the information and photographs I have collected over the years is trying to establish a solution that best shares this information in a user friendly manner. The map below has been populated with the albums I currently have on Flickr in such a way…
  • A study of the pillbox at Murlough Beach
    For those of you who are familiar with the beach at Murlough Bay nature reserve, you may have noticed a rather unassuming pile of rubble. Without interpretation you may have thought this had been dumped some decades ago, but it provides a convenient sitting place or playground for adventurous children. It is in fact a…
  • How long did it take to build a pillbox?
    25 unskilled labourers, 6 carpenters, 4 steel fixers, 2 concrete workers, 1 mixer driver, 1 superintending officer One of the privileges of collecting contemporary military manuals (see the full list of publications in my library here), is that every now and again I stumble across a snippet of information that enhances my knowledge and understanding….
  • Downhill Radio Navigation Site
    The use of radio technology transformed the air war during the Second World War. In a short space of time RADAR was born and fine tuned to detect and track approaching enemy aircraft, radio direct finding (RDF) was used to detect illicit communications, ships and submarines as well as tracking our own aircraft, but the…
  • Island Hill Direction Finding Station
    It is well acknowledged that signals intelligence, or SIGINT, was one of the tools that allowed the allies to shorten the length of the Second World War, and Northern Ireland played a crucial part in this battle through the Radio Security Service (RSS) interception and direction finding (D/F) station at Gilnahirk. At the end of…
  • Field Fortifications: How thick was thick enough?
    The ability to construct quick but effective fortifications in the field has historically fallen to the soldiers of the Royal Engineers. This dirty and backbreaking work may not be precise, but it is based very soundly on experience and scientific experimentation. During the 19th and 20th centuries, as weaponry and warfare evolved at a staggering…
  • Guarding the Coast
    The British Isles and Ireland are island nations dependant on their domination of the coastline and waters surrounding them. With estimates of upwards of 11,000 miles and 1,700 miles respectively, the task of providing protection for and communication around these vast coastlines is a problem that has been attempted numerous times throughout the centuries. As…
  • Radar in Northern Ireland 1939 – 1945
    One rainy afternoon in lockdown, I thought I would do some research on finding evidence for the WW2 radar sites that were once dotted around Northern Ireland. Finding photographic evidence of what were once secret installations is still quite tricky almost 80 years on! I have been fortunate enough to visit some of these sites…
  • Kilroot Coastal Artillery Battery
    A site visit and photographic report on the history and current condition of Kilroot Battery, a 1910 coastal artillery battery on the western coast of Belfast Lough. The fort was in use until 1956 when the coastal artillery units were disbanded, and during the Second World War it saw expansion when a hunted infantry camp…

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