World War II

Harry records another global conflict.

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In the summer, Prime Minister Chamberlain told the House of Commons that the European situation had greatly deteriorated. Germany and Poland had each millions of soldiers facing each other. England and France had stated many times that if Germany attacked Poland they would at once go to her aid.

On August 22, there was a special cabinet meeting, Chamberlain having rushed back from Scotland.

On August 24, Parliament met and Britain’s ambassador Sir Neville Henderson was instructed to inform Hitler that we would attack at once if Poland was violated. Tremendous activity in London and across the country, preparing for war. Stained glass removed from cathedrals, pictures taken from galleries, troops standing ready, anti-aircraft guns all round Britain manned day and night, also in Belfast.

My son Harry and his family who were on a motoring tour of Scotland rushed back.

On August 25, Hitler sent for ambassador Neville Henderson to put a special offer before the British Parliament. Henderson flew with it to London. Bank rate up from 2 to 6 percent. The pound fell from 4.60 Dollars to 4.40 Dollars. Gold rose to 160 shillings per fine ounce.

People were astounded to hear that negotiations for an alliance with Russia were off, and that during those negotiations, Stalin was secretly negotiating with Germany, and a pact was concluded with Germany.

On August 27, Parliament met again and Britons were ordered to leave Germany.

On August 29, Hitler’s reply to a British message was received in London.

On August 30, a British reply was sent to Hitler.

On August 31, the city of Paris evacuated women and children.

On September 1, three million women and children were evacuated from London. The stock exchange was closed.

On September 2, the British Parliament met at 6.30, with members angry because war had not been declared.

On September 3, war was declared on Germany at 11 am. Later it was announced that all cinemas, and other places of entertainment, were to be closed and no crowds to assemble in streets.

The SS Athenia was torpedoed off the Hebrides at 8 pm. Many passengers killed by the explosion and many more drowned by the capsizing of boats. The German submarine, which fired shells at the steamer, was seen by many passengers. Several hundred passengers taken to Galway and Glasgow, including many injured, all very scantily attired. There were over 100 Americans on board.

On September 5, a small Cunard steamer torpedoed. Great fighting going on between Poland and Germany.

On September 8, we attended meetings held by all trade associations in Belfast, and it was decided that a charge of 5% should be added to all home invoices to help to cover the War Risk Insurance. Foreign shipments were included later.

As of September 16, we were unable to get any quotations for yarns, or piece goods as the controlled prices have not yet been fixed. My son Tom joined the RASC while Tom and Brian and joined the Anti-Aircraft Royal Artillery. The former actually joined about two months ago.

On September 16, and aircraft carrier, the HMS Courageous, which had visited Portrush and been open to the public in 1938, was torpedoed with loss of 600 lives including Bertie Johnson, the son of our framer.

On September 27, we hear details of Sir John Simon’s budget. New taxes are to raise £107m in the present year so as to make the total revenue for 1939/40 £995m. Income Tax was raised from 5/6d in the pound to 7/6d. Duty on assets rose by £10,000 to £50,000. Excess Profit Tax was 60%.

On November 30, my son Britain went to Grangemouth in Scotland with his battery.

In December, my son Harry went to Scotland with some of his men to see the Scottish batteries in action and came back just before Christmas.


On February 1, we start to add two extra storeys to the new Brown Room. Jamie Morrison did the work at 10/6d per perch.

On April 7, Germany invaded Denmark and Norway. There were great naval and air battles off Sweden and Denmark.

On April 11, Brian arrived home from Scotland on short leave.

On April 16, Tom arrived for one day only, from Scotland. He did not get back again until August.

As of April 26, there was a crisis in the linen trade. Buying from America absolutely stopped. All trade was stopped with Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Holland. Home Trade supplies to customers were cut down to 25% of the demand for the previous six months.

On May 10, Holland and Belgium invaded. Iceland occupied by Great Britain. Winston Churchill was made Prime Minister.

As of May 15-17, awful battles, the fiercest in the world’s hstory, were raging in Holland, Belgium and France.

By May 18, the Germans were within 1o0 miles of Paris.

On May 23, the British government took complete control of many persons, their property, bank accounts, business, hours or work, and arrested some suspected persons, including Sir Oswald Mosley.

On May 27, King Leopold of Belgium made a separate peace without warning to the Allies, leaving part of the front open.

In late May, there was the great evacuation of Dunkirk, involving over 300,000 British and French troops. Thousand were, however, lost.

On June 2, my son Tom was made a captain.

On June 10, Italy declared war on England and France. The Germans were near Paris.

On June 13, my son Brian came home for a few days after a severe illness.

In mid-June, all the road signs were removed from highways about Northern Ireland.

On June 15, the Germans entered Paris.

As of June 17, the French had capitulated and deserted the British.

On July 7, it was clear that all trade was practically dead. The works was closed for a week.

In July, there were great air battles over England, Scotland and Wales day and night. In Ulster the beaches were all wired. Soldiers arrived in Irish towns like Kilrea and Coleraine.

On July 21, steam cans were added to the set under the old Brown Room. Clonmore House in Upperlands was occupied by soldiers. All bridges over the Bann were mined.

On September 6, my son Brian sailed with his Coleraine battery to an undisclosed destination.

On September 9, Buckingham Palace was badly damaged. There was a heavy fall in linen prices, with 25’s down from 27/6d to 23/6d. No orders coming in. Half the place is idle.

In September, Mr Williamson's trip to the USA was cancelled owing to the great dangers of the Atlantic. Campbell College, Belfast, moved to Northern Counties Hotel in Portrush. It is now most difficult to get a permit for going to England or Scotland. Timber almost impossible to get. The Manor House, Kilrea, has been taken over by the soldiers.

In October, my son Harry was made a captain. Tom had the same promotion three months earlier.

On October 26, the SS Empress of Britain was sunk 160 miles off the Irish Coast by an aerial bomb.

On October 28, Italy invaded Greece. Brain cabled in code that he had landed in Egypt. We got some large government orders for denims. 29” loom-width 12x8 ½ also for 28 ½ inches. Other orders for Cotton Duck 14.6 ounces to the square yard, and a 27 -1/4 inch Linen Dowlas 12 ¼ ounces per square yard, all made here.

On November 2, my son Captain Harry Clark was here for the weekend.

From December 8, there was a great Allied victory in Egypt with tens of thousands of prisoners taken.

On December 21, Captains Tom and Harry Clark came back to Upperlands for a week’s leave. Both returned to Scotland a week later.

On December 29, there were awful fires in London, The Guild Hall, seven famous churches, and scores of other buildings were bombed and burned. London office bombed and burned, Manchester office also seriously damaged.

On December 30, we had to gave Cecil Gilmore three months formal notice to quit as US agent because agent's commission had been prohibited by law.


On January 2, the Germans dropped bombs on Drogheda and Rathdrum.

On January 11, my nephew Alexander Clark returned from visiting the awful destruction in Manchester and London.

Daylight saving time continued throughout the winter. It is now quite dark at 9 am but clear to almost 6 pm. Coal now costs 50 shillings per ton.

In late January, the papers say that no passenger ship had reached New York from England since November 16.

On January 23, there was a big military exercise, simulating an attack on Upperlands, Maghera, Draperstown and so on.

In April, my sons Tom and Harry were made Majors.

On April 15, Belfast was heavily bombed with huge numbers killed, also 12 in Derry. York Street almost wiped out and thousands of houses levelled.

On May 5, Belfast was again heavily bombed. The Rope Works, Thorntons, Lindsays, Pattersons, and scores of other buildings were destroyed. The Midland Railway Hotel and Station were burned out along with scores of railway carriages and wagons.

On May 25, HMS Hood was sunk in the naval battle of Greenland by Germany’s most powerful ship, the Bismarck, which was sunk by the Royal Navy soon after.

In May, there was a great demand for shrunk ducks and canvas from Canada.

As of May 25, we werekeeping all the dams almost dry, as they attracted the German aeroplanes, which dropped many flares around Upperlands recently.

On June 29, Gilmore cabled resigning the American agency and we appointed JG Robinson.

On July 11, my son Brian, who had been appointed a staff captain in Cairo, was very seriously ill with rheumatic fever.

A large number of Americans landed in Derry and Larne, making naval bases.

As of July, both linens and cottons were almost impossible to obtain. But my nephew George Clark was doing a large trade in household goods in the USA.

As of August, we were only allowed to supply 8% of the 1939 Home Trade requirements. It now takes letters 4-5 weeks to reach Canada or the USA. There is, however, a regular air mail via Lisbon.

In September, James Stewart, head loft-man at the Jubilee, died. He had been with us for 52 years.

On December 7, Japan attackedPearl Harbour, and over 2,000 Americans were killed. America declared war on Germany and Italy as well as Japan.


In January, my son Captain Brian Clark arrived in Glasgow, having travelled via the Cape, Trinidad and Halifax, Nova Scotia.

On January 2, the first US troops landed in Ulster.

Also in January, we got a very large Government order for dyeing and proofing several thousand webs, 200 to be delivered weekly. 5 ½ per yard paid for our work. The government supplied the goods.

On February 6, my son Brian left forWoolwich after only being two weeks at home.

On February 15, Singapore fell, the greatest disaster in British military history.

On March 2, the first US troops arrived in Kilrea.

On March 8, Rangoon fell. The war news looked very serious.

On March 23 many hands left us without warning to work at the Toome aerodrome owing to the great demand for workers in aerodromes, quarries and sand-pits. We advanced Green wages from 48/6d to 52/- and farm labourers to 48/3d.

On May 6, the British took Madagascar. There was a great US naval victory in the Solomon Islands, with many ships sunk.

On June 27, Mr Churchill returned by air from a week’s visit to the USA.

Also in June, we received large government orders – over 4,000 webs - for dyeing and proofing as tent ducks.

On July 2, the British were driven back to within sixty miles of Alexandria.

On July 10, we closed the whole place for ten days.

On July 20, American troops arrived in Maghera. We heard that Rostov had fallen.

On August 19, there was a British raid on Dieppe which sounded at first like a full invasion.

Also in August, General Alexander took over command in Egypt from General Auchinleck.

On September 8, Bob Johnston, who had been our frame man for many years, died.

In September, there were huge numbers of American troops all over Ulster. There was a big camp near Moneymore, and another near Tobermore.

In October, we began making 303 bullet sleeves in part of the weaving factory. We also got large government orders for cotton overalls, mostly dyed sulphur black.

Linens were unobtainable. It was now impossible to get any supplies of goods like 7x6, 8x6, 10x7, 11x8 etc., or good for hollands and buckrams. We were able to obtain some heavy goods such as 5½ x 5 14/16, 6x6 20/20, 6x6 16/16, which our customers were glad to get finished in shrunk ducks instead of the better numbers.

In October, my son Major Harry Clark was transferred from England to Londonderry with his battery. My great-nephew Aubrey Clark began serving his apprenticeship.

On October 4, our works at Mullamore was taken over the government for bombing practice.

On November 2, we hear of a great British victory in Egypt, with Rommel driven back many miles and 20,000 Axis prisoners taken.

On November 7 we hear that the Americans, British and Canadians have landed in Algiers, Oran and many other places in Africa. About 800 ships were used in this expedition, the largest in the world’s history.

On November 16, the chimney at our Mullamore works was demolished by the military.

As of November, some 75,000 Axis prisoners had been taken in Egypt. Church bells rang out for the first time since 1939. Back in Upperlands, we bought a Dundee Mangle from Carter in Dundee for £1,350.

In November, we hear of wonderful Russian victories.


On January 25, my grandson Billy Clark entered the business. But after serving a few months he joined the Irish Guards.

As of February, we were turning out large quantities of incendiary bullets in a section of the weaving factory. By March 1944, we were turning out 70,000 a week. We were paid for all our work £5 per 1,000 and had to supply all plant ourselves.

In May, Bizerta in Tunis was captured, with 300,000 Axis prisoners taken.

On September 3, the Allies landed in Italy at 4 am. We now have only four beetling engines going at each of the following places: the Jubilee, Lower House, Road Engines and Moneycarrie.

On December 9, Miss M Carmichael died. She had been 27 years in our Belfast office and her loss was irreparable.


As of January, Heysham Steamers now only running three nights weekly, Liverpool boats once weekly. All towns in Ulster were full of Americans and we often entertained them here.

In February, the Mullamore aerodrome was fully working. Getting goods to Canada became almost impossible. We could not get any linens, cottons or unions to Canadian customers and they were running very short.

My grandson Wallace Clark started to serve time in the factory. He later joined the navy.

In October, we bought the dwelling house and garden in Kilrea previously owned by our cousins Misses Tillie and Jane Clark for £1,400.

Also in October, we got orders for 3,500 webs of cotton canvas and 3,00 webs of drills.

In the same month, Mr Bruce, manager of LM & S railway and several other directors, came here by special train. We had lunch with them and they saw over our works.

On December 15, my grandson Roddie was lost at sea when the ship on which he was serving as a sub-lieutenant was torpedoed off Cape Wrath.


On January 9, my grandson Wallace went to join HMS Royal Arthur Norfolk.

On January 28, there was a great freeze, with 25 degrees of frost, with scores of burst pipes and lots of shrubs killed. Snow was a foot deep everywhere.

On January 28, Dan Tohill died. He was our oldest hand, age 76, and son of John Tohill, who carted all our goods to and from Castledawson until 1880.

On March 23, General Montgomery crossed the Rhine. Our home trade got an allocation for 7,000 webs of 24-3/4 6x5 ½ 20/20. A new concrete weir was put in at Moneycarrie.

The government paid us only £2,950 for the use of Mullamore for two years and the destruction of 21 workers’ houses. This would not re-build 3 houses.

In April, a new coal siding was put in.

On May 8, the second world war ended in Europe.

On May 27, James Gilmore died – our great business friend in the USA for many years.

On August 8, Japan surrendered.