Comber in the 1940s
A cage bird society was formed in January. They held their first nest feather show in the Orange Hall in June.
Leading Aircraftsman Matthew Wilson of Brownlow Street, Comber was honoured in February in a list of awards to members of the RAF for his gallantry while under attack by a German plane over the North Sea. However, in April while on another mission, he was reported as missing.
A Searchlight Battery was stationed at Unicarval. Special services were held for the men at 2nd Comber on Sunday mornings.
In March, a new banner was unfurled by Mrs Henry in the grounds of the Orange Hall for the Dr Robert Henry Memorial Juvenile Lodge No 139. Afterwards there was a parade of the town. The Belfast County Junior Lodge held their demonstration in Comber on Easter Tuesday, when over 10,000 took part in the procession, including the Comber lodge. A sports programme was held at the field.
Comber Tennis Club resolved in April that all members of H.M. Forces be deemed honorary members of the club for the duration of the war.
The Andrews Mill purchased a trailer fire pump with 1,850 feet of hose. It was worked by a petrol pump – a gallon of petrol operated the machine for a couple of hours.
Alfred Hadden retired on 31st March after 41 years as a teacher in Comber. For many years he was principal of Smyth’s School at 2nd Comber, and when the new Comber Elementary School opened in 1938, he was appointed principal. He was presented with an easy chair by the pupils and staff. Mr Hadden’s successor as principal was Mr W J Taylor, a former headmaster of the Mill School.
Two presentations were made at 2nd Comber in April. The first was to Mr R.A. Patterson, organist and choirmaster at 2nd Comber, on his retirement from the post; the second to Miss Mary Hunter, who had resigned as President of the Girls’ Auxiliary after seven years. Meanwhile four new elders were ordained - Thomas Calvert, James Ellison, Samuel Johnston and John Rowan.
In April police at Comber barracks confiscated a whiskey still from the Murray brothers who were fined for running an illegal poteen operation at Magherascouse.
The Comber War Hospital Supply Depot had a visit from the Duchess of Abercorn at a gathering in the Andrews Hall in April. A knitting class had been meeting every Thursday afternoon in the Mill School to prepare articles for despatch to the Red Cross. Various groups such as Comber Tennis Club, Comber Star Football Club, and Comber Young Farmers’ Club gave generous financial support. Since the outbreak of war over 700 articles had been sent off, including mufflers, socks, helmets, pullovers and garments for use in hospitals.
60 personnel took part in an Air Raid Precautions test held in May in connection with the Comber First Aid Post in High Street. Much responsibility fell on the shoulders of Dr Brian Henry, the Chief Warden, who was in charge of the Post. He was also Divisional Surgeon of the St John Ambulance in Comber, and it was he who trained the volunteers. There were 20 “casualties”, of which four “died”. Much excitement was caused by a fire due to bombing at 2nd Comber School, mustard gas and high explosive bombs in the Square, and explosive bombs dropped on the Orange Hall with considerable damage to overhead electric cables.
The Twelfth demonstration due to be held in Comber was cancelled because of the war. However, the Comber brethren decided to hold their church services as usual.
A meeting was held in June to enrol recruits for an Ulster Defence Volunteer Force (the Home Guard). John Miller Andrews explained that the duty of the force would be to protect their own homes and people in the event of invasion. District Commandant Harry McCormick gave a detailed account of the purpose and organisation of the force. There was a good response to enrolment. In November membership stood at around 100 and training by the military took place in the Andrews Hall.
There were complaints regarding annoyance caused by gypsies at Comber.
A six-year-old boy named William Robinson of Castle Street was drowned in the hot dam of the mill on 27th June. He was in the company of some others who were bathing, and got out of his depth and was drowned before help could reach him.
Comber was one of 15 centres which took part in an Air Raid Precautions exercise in the Newtownards Rural District in July. The object was to test communications and staff organisation, to give wardens practice in reporting and handling of incidents, and to give the various services experience on action to be taken on being sent out to give assistance. Comber sent an ambulance, a first aid party car and a trailer fire pump to Ballygowan, and the casualties were taken to the Comber Post. And in August a large scale A.R.P. exercise took place at the old Riding School, Comber in front of a large number of spectators. An incendiary bomb "set fire" to the riding school which was supposed to collapse, and the trailer fire pump service fought the flames. There were about a dozen casualties in various parts of the building, necessitating the services of a rescue party. Complications arose when mustard gas bombs were dropped and the decontamination squad had to clean the area. The new ambulance conveyed the casualties to the First Aid Post in High Street. Comber also took part in an exercise at Ballygowan in December when an old mill was assumed to have been hit by two high explosive bombs.
Comber Swifts beat Whisky Haw 2-1 in the Junior Cup football final at Castlereagh Park, Newtownards. And Comber Rangers FC celebrated winning the championship of the Comber Summer League (organised by Comber Star FC) at a dance in the Comrades Hut.
Campaigns were under way to collect waste paper and scrap metal for the war effort. One casualty in August was the old German field gun in the Square which was cut up and sold for scrap. The proceeds were given to Comber District War Hospitals Supply Depot to purchase materials. A plaque from the gun is preserved in St Mary’s Church.
Comber Farmers’ Union expressed alarm at the level of potato prices fixed for August and September. They claimed that unless this was adjusted, farmers would stop growing potatoes, and asked that a minimum price of £6 per ton be fixed.
A Trades Preparatory Day School, providing training in mathematics, mechanics, technical drawing, woodwork and metalwork, opened in September under Mr T M Kelso.
A presentation was made to Norman Nevin in October on the occasion of his leaving Comber Elementary School to take up a teaching post in Newtownards Model. Comber Elementary was apparently overstaffed.
2nd Comber celebrated the centenary of the opening of the church for worship on 3rd October 1840. The service was conducted by Rev J E Jones, minister of the congregation.
The Council discussed the provision of air raid shelters in Comber. It was agreed that approval from the Ministry of Public Security be sought for the erection of three shelters.
Robert James (Mickey) White died on 10th October. He had been a confectioner and caterer in Comber, and was responsible for Comber’s first movies shown in the Andrews Hall.
An entertainment for the soldiers was held in the Andrews Hall on three nights in November, although the general public were also admitted.
Fusilier George Leslie Gell, a young military dispatch rider, died following a collision between his motor cycle and a car at Lisbane on 15th November.
Comber Petty Sessions, due to be held on 25th November, were postponed in tribute to the memory of Ulster’s Prime Minister, Viscount Craigavon, who had just died. His successor was a Comber man – John Miller Andrews, who also retained his portfolio as Minister of Finance.
A young Comber man named William Wallace died in London on 9th January following an accident at his work. He was a fitter employed by James Mackie and Sons, and had been sent to England to work on a contract which had been undertaken by the firm.
At Second Comber’s annual meeting in March very gratifying reports of a most successful year were presented, although it was recognised that they had been under serious disadvantage through the occupation of the Church Hall by the military. This had meant suspension of some of the youth organisations, including the Boys’ Brigade.
Comber Education Sub-Committee debated the growing number of farmers applying for the assistance of schoolchildren in agricultural work, and requesting that leave be granted to the children from their school duties for a period, as farm hands were difficult to procure. The Chairman ruled that the Committee was not in a position to grant such requests.
Comber Telephone Exchange was automated in April. Comber subscribers were now able to dial telephone numbers in other local areas without the intervention of an operator.
In May, a Welsh soldier, Private William Steadman, was charged with bigamy. He had married Winifred Margaret Savage on 24th December 1940 in Comber Unitarian Church, but already had a wife in England. He was sent for trial at Downpatrick Assizes.
It was reported in June that the Comber A.R.P. post was to be provided with another ambulance.
Comber branch of the Women’s Voluntary Services held its inaugural meeting in the Andrews Hall on 26th June. Various speakers and films explained the aims of the organisation.
Private Daniel Abraham, a soldier, was charged with breaking into the Albion Clothing Factory on 31st August. However, nothing had been stolen. Two other soldiers, Private William Lack and Private Duncan Reavie, were charged with breaking into the NAAFI canteen and stealing a large quantity of cigarettes. Yet another soldier, Arthur Billingham, broke into Smyth & McClure’s shop and committed a felony, although once again nothing appeared to have been taken. All were returned for trial at Downpatrick Quarter Sessions. Constable McNeice of Comber RUC was complimented for his work in apprehending the culprits. Billingham was in trouble again in December for stealing cigarettes from the NAAFI canteen.
The state of Londonderry Avenue was discussed at Council. There was insufficient drainage and the road surface had cut up badly. At a time of heavy rain water gushed down the middle of the avenue on to the Glen Road filling the grates at the railway arch. It was agreed that, as this was a private avenue, the matter should be brought to the attention of Lord Londonderry.
Very Rev Dr David A Taylor, senior minister of Second Comber and a former Moderator of the General Assembly, passed away in Greyabbey on 8th October aged 94.
The Andrews Hall was completely filled for the Annual Remembrance Day Service. Members of the British Legion were joined by the Home Guard, military and A.R.P. personnel, along with many friends, including the Prime Minister John Miller Andrews and the Lord Chief Justice James Andrews. The special preacher was Rev Main Stewart, while the praise was led by a united choir from the various churches under the direction of Mr J V Raffles, organist of Second Comber. Following the service all personnel were inspected by the Prime Minister who afterwards took the salute at the march past.
William Niblock, a 60 year old farmer from Ballyalloly, was killed in December while cycling near Maze.
Vandals struck in January during a dance in the Orange Hall. Cars parked outside had their windscreen wipers torn off and windows broken.
Comber and district Local Savings Committee was organised in February with James Andrews as chairman and Mrs Cecil Andrews as honorary secretary. Mrs Andrews reported that she had been actively engaged for some months in forming street, school and industrial savings groups. Investors were invited to invest their money through the Comber Bank or Post Office, or through their local groups, thus giving Comber the credit for all the savings of Comber people.
Also in February, Comber Home Guard had a recruitment drive, which began with street fighting on a Saturday afternoon, the Guards giving a good account of themselves against a contingent of the military. Other activities during the following week included a Sunday afternoon service in 1st Comber and a cinema show and public meeting in the Andrews Hall on the Monday. Many young men of the town and district joined the Home Guard.
The work of Nurse Ferguson was praised at the annual meeting of Comber Nursing Society. Her work had substantially increased due to the number of evacuees in the district, and in addition she had been made Nursing Officer of the St John Division in Comber and was ready to turn out at A.R.P. Headquarters in the event of air raids.
At the annual business meeting of 2nd Comber in March, Rev Jones referred to the difficulties experienced in carrying out work among the young people while the church hall was unavailable. Young people were drifting away and this was most noticeable at the evening services. The secular concert held every Sunday evening in the Andrews Hall attracted many of them. This was ostensibly for the troops, but members of the public were allowed in without payment.
A soldier was killed in an accident at Ballyloughan. He was Gunner John Madden, aged 37, from Limavady, and he was knocked down by a bus while walking along the road with a fellow soldier.
Thomas Wilson of Railway Street was reported missing presumed killed following the sinking of HMS Hermes by the Japanese.
Comber took part in the County Down Warships Week (June 13th-20th), having undertaken to raise £20,000. The Week was inaugurated on the Saturday evening with a Children’s Fancy Dress Parade held in the grounds of the Andrews Hall. Pupils of Ardmillan P.E. School performed folk dances on the green. Then a procession, led by Newtownards Silver Band, paraded the town. It included Comber Home Guard, the A.R.P., Britannia (Miss Jean Davidson) and her attendants on a decorated lorry, the Fancy Dress competitors, and the May Queen (Miss Minnie Annett), with her attendants. At the Square Lady Glentoran christened HMS Victory, a model battleship presented by Mr Chick, Ballystockart, whose daughters Jean and Frances were awarded special prizes as sailors aboard HMS Victory. There were several speeches, including one from John Miller Andrews, the Prime Minister, who also took the salute as the procession passed, and who set the Barometer for the first day at £3,500. A Savings Shop was opened in the Square in the office of the Ulster Bank, and by Tuesday the target of £20,000 had been passed. Proceeds of a dance on the Friday night were given to Comber Nursing Society.
Alexander Orr of Ballystockart died in July after a long illness. He had carried on the milling business of Messrs B Orr and Sons, and was active in Comber Farmers’ Union. He was twice draughts champion of Belfast and district, and was also a noted chess player who drew with Capablanca, the world champion, who was playing a number of games simultaneously.
A Recruitment Rally was held in September for the Air Training Corps (ATC). There was a big parade through the town of contingents of the RAF, WAAF, ATC and the Civil Defence Services, with a salute taken in the Square by Air Vice-Marshal Cole Hamilton, who afterwards inspected the parade. Speeches then followed with strong appeals for recruits and urging parents not to stand in the way of their children joining. Young women were also encouraged to join the WAAF. There was subsequently a public meeting in the Andrews Hall with community singing and an address by Lord Londonderry, Regional Commandant of the ATC in Northern Ireland. Films were then shown of work in the RAF and of ATC boys at camp.
A tragic accident occurred at Ballystockart on 11th September, when an infant called Kathleen Crawford died after falling into an oil drum containing liquid manure.
Mr William Pollock succeeded Mr Taylor as headmaster of Comber Elementary School on 1st October.
A 23-year-old cyclist called James Alan McBride of Lisbarnett was killed in December after crashing into a man walking along the road at Ballygraffin.
Towards the end of the year a survey of iron and steel railings was carried out prior to their removal for the war effort. This would have included those which used to surround the Gillespie Monument.
William Scott, Magherascouse, and Andrew Scott, Drumhirk, were fined at the January Petty Sessions for assaulting Constable Thompson at Milling’s pub.
Thomas Cairns, gatekeeper at the Killinchy Road level crossing, was killed on 2nd February after being run over by a train. The deceased, who had a wooden leg, had gone out to open the gates for the 7.55 am train from Newtownards. This was a notorious accident black spot where there were at least two previous fatalities.
Comber District Nursing Society’s annual meeting marked the 50th anniversary of its founding. Lady Andrews reported on a flourishing society and on the splendid work of Nurse Ferguson. During the year Kilmood and Killinchy had appointed their own District Nurses, and it was felt that Nurse Ferguson should keep within the Comber Dispensary boundary. This meant waiving all future subscriptions from these areas, but to help meet this loss a £30 maternity grant was received from the Newtownards Board of Guardians.
Over 600 people attended a concert given in the Andrews Hall on 5th February to raise money for the British Sailors’ Society. Rev T M Johnstone, Organising Secretary of the Society in Ireland, spoke of the great part being played by seamen in the prosecution of the war. Later in the month another concert was arranged by Comber Technical School on behalf of the Red Cross and St John’s Nurses. Many prominent Belfast artistes, names heard over the radio, appeared free of charge.
Mr J O H Long was welcomed at the Comber Petty Sessions in February on his first appearance as Resident Magistrate there.
Miss Bessie Stone died on 27th February, aged 95. She was the youngest child of Guy Stone, who kept a diary in the 1830s. She was also an aunt of Edmund de Wind VC. Each year on the anniversary of Gillespie’s death, Bessie laid a wreath at the steps of the Gillespie Monument. She also possessed initialled ivory whist counters which had belonged to the general.
John Ritchie tendered his resignation as chairman of Comber Farmers’ Union at the annual meeting on 9th March. He had been in the post since the formation of the Branch in 1919 and was a former President of the Ulster Farmers’ Union. David Munn was elected as his successor, although it was decided to make Mr Ritchie Honorary President.
The Ministry of Information put on a film display on 30th March in the Unitarian Church Hall for personnel of the Comber A.R.P. and those from the surrounding district. The films included how to deal with fires caused by incendiaries, work in the Control room during an enemy air attack, the laying of mines in enemy waters, and work in the factories for the war effort.
John Miller Andrews resigned as Prime Minister on 29th April and was succeeded by Sir Basil Brooke. There had been much criticism of the conduct of the war and of the lack of younger men in the Government. He himself was 72. However, to be fair to John Andrews, these were difficult times and would have taxed many a younger man to the limit.
Comber took part in the Wings for Victory Week 22nd-29th May, with a target of £40,000 to raise. The town was suitably decorated for the occasion, while a collection of RAF equipment was displayed in Milling’s shop. Events kicked off on the Saturday evening with a parade to the Square and speeches by John Miller Andrews, Squadron Leader Hopkins of the RAF, William Grant (Minister of Labour), and Lord Glentoran. Each evening from Monday to Friday a barometer ceremony took place where the amount raised to date was announced. And several attractions were arranged. Monday evening saw a display of marching in the Square by the local Air Training Corps and the band from the Fitzwilliam Corps. Lord Londonderry spoke on the war situation. This was followed by an A.T.C. display at their new headquarters – the former NAAFI canteen off Castle Street. Tuesday was “Children’s Night” with community singing, a dancing display by Ardmillan P.E.S. children, and the presentation of prizes in the Essay, Drawing and Poster competitions. Comber A.R.P. and First Aid Services staged a test on the Wednesday, with fire fighting, rescue, decontamination, first aid and wardens’ services. A commentary was given over loudspeakers by Dr Henry. On Thursday the Home Guard organised a parade and drill down in the Square. This was followed by a tug of war competition won by Ballystockart. The Women’s Voluntary Service (W.V.S.) held a whist drive in the Andrews Hall on Friday, while on Saturday evening Comber Star beat an RAF team 4-3 in a charity football match in aid of the RAF Benevolent Fund. Sir James Andrews presided at the final ceremony on Monday 31st May when a final figure of over £57,000 was announced.
Mrs Mary McRoberts Maxwell, aged 46, of Castle Street, was drowned in June after falling into the pond beside the starch mill. John Oliver of Millview brought the body to the surface after dragging the pond with a boathook. Another death was that of Alexander Withers, a fire-watcher in Belfast, who had a seizure while cycling home from work.
A presentation took place on 16th June to James Hunter JP, Clerk of Session in Second Comber Presbyterian Church, and Mrs Hunter, at their home of “Rossenara”. The ceremony was attended by around 40 members of the congregation. Mr Hunter received a silver tea service and tray, and Mrs Hunter an artistic pendant, while Mr Hunter was also the recipient of a Bible presented by the Sabbath School Society.
Comber Book Week was opened on 4th September by Miss Alice de Wind at a ceremony in the Square. This was part of the National Salvage Campaign, organised by the W.V.S. Comber people were asked to bring along unwanted books to a receiving depot in the former Square School building. Prizes were awarded to the children who collected the greatest weight of books. Comber had a target of 10,000 books to collect, and the young people turned out in force with wheelbarrows, prams and boxes full of them. In the end 15,346 were collected. Some of these books would be sent to the Forces and Prisoners of War, others would restock blitzed libraries, while the remainder would be pulped for re-use as paper or for making munitions.
William Shaw of Cattogs died at the end of August after a short illness. He had served for many years as treasurer of Comber Branch of the Ulster Farmers’ Union.
Following the vacation of 2nd Comber Church Hall by the military, the youth organisations started up again. Recruiting for the Boys’ Brigade commenced on 21st September, while the Young People’s Guild resumed in October with a social reunion.
Battle of Britain Sunday was marked in 2nd Comber on 26th September at morning service. Members of the Civil Defence services, the Home Guard, and members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary attended.
At Comber British Legion’s annual meeting on 5th October reference was made to the introduction of restricted lighting on Comber’s streets. This had been accomplished following representations to the Council from the Legion.
At the October Petty Sessions William J Magowan, a former RUC constable in Comber who had resigned in May after over 20 years’ service, was fined for maliciously cutting the wire in the telephone kiosk in Comber Square on 20th September. Mr Magowan denied the charge and claimed they had got the wrong man
Jack Grainger, organist of 1st Comber since 1927, was appointed organist of Whiteabbey Presbyterian Church. His reason for leaving the Comber Church was mostly to do with transport difficulties.
Warrant Officer Jim Montgomery from Mill Street was awarded the DFC for gallant service, and this was publicly recognised at a meeting in the Andrews Hall on 17th November. Mr Montgomery was presented by the Lord Chief Justice with an inscribed solid silver cigarette case and a cheque for £136. Lord Londonderry was among the speakers. That same evening Lord Londonderry inspected and addressed Comber Squadron of the Air Training Corps. Lord Londonderry was Air Commodore for the A.T.C. in Northern Ireland.
The newly-formed First Comber Pack of Wolf Cubs staged a Parents’ Night in the Andrews Memorial Hall in January.
On 16th March the 1st Down Battalion of the Home Guard held the concluding event of their shooting competition in the Andrews Hall. Special Constable J Newell of Comber won the cup.
Miss Ethel Geddis of Bridge Street died on 30th March, after a brief illness. She had been a very active member of 2nd Comber Presbyterian Church, and at her funeral officers of the Boys’ Brigade and leaders of the Life Boys formed a guard of honour. Miss Geddis had been leader of the Life Boy team.
Two Americans and a British soldier died following an accident in May at Ballygraffin, when a military vehicle left the road and went over the hedge into a field.
North Down Hockey Club won the Kirk Cup following a play-off with Banbridge.
"Salute the Soldier" week officially opened on Saturday evening 11th June with a parade led by the Band of the Royal Ulster Rifles. Speakers at a meeting in the Square were John Miller Andrews, Brigadier Boxshall, Air Commodore Primrose, and Mr James Duff. On Sunday morning there was a military parade to the Parish Church, and a band played in the Square. The Home Guard drilled in the Square on Monday, followed by sports in the park. There was a Civil Defence display on Tuesday evening, showing personnel dealing with bombs, firefighting, and treating casualties. Mrs C F Andrews, who spoke that evening, referred to pictures to be seen in a shop window of the town of many of the young men and women who had left to serve with the Forces. On Wednesday a peace-time ceremonial mounting of the guard was followed by a military parade of mobile units. Then came a military concert and dance. Thursday was children’s day with sports and a fancy dress cycle parade judged at the cricket ground, also folk dancing by the pupils of Ardmillan School. This was followed by a mock battle by a military unit. Friday was women’s day, with competitions in baking and floral decoration. Lady Montgomery, mother of the general, spoke. On Saturday afternoon American Army teams played a baseball game, while Comber took on the Army in a football match.
In July the housing problem was discussed by Council. Mr Quinn reported that last week there were 20 applications for one house in Comber, while another dozen people had asked him about getting them a house. He wanted to know how, under the new housing scheme, eligibility for a house should be defined. And what would the situation be like when the war ended and many young people returned home looking for somewhere to live?
On 10th August at Comber Post Office the Head Postmaster from Belfast presented diplomas to James Hedley and N Smyth, postmen, for three years’ careful driving and freedom from accident.
On 23rd August a demonstration of faked injuries was given at Comber Gas Cleansing Station by Mr Hamilton from the Casualty Training School, Glencairn, Belfast. Those present were members of the Casualty and First Aid Services from the Rural area. Mr Hamilton dealt with injuries caused by flying glass, bomb fragments and contact with moving machinery. Dr B R Henry explained the proper method of treatment.
Comber’s Junior Orangemen paraded on 2nd September to a field lent by John Miller Andrews, and here they held a sports day.
On Sunday 3rd September the Non-Subscribing Church was packed for the service commemorating the anniversary of the outbreak of war. The congregation included members of the Civil Defence Force and the Home Guard.
On 11th September a public meeting was held in the Andrews Hall regarding future peace celebrations and an appropriate welcome home for members of the Forces. Dr Henry was elected chairman of a large committee representative of all the organisations in the town.
Mr Albert E Anderson, a prominent Comber business man, formerly a well-known cricket and hockey player, died on 21st September.
Another death was that of James Hunter of Rossenara on 24th September. He had been a manager in the Andrews Spinning Mill for 47 years, and was clerk of session at 2nd Comber.
A renovation scheme was adopted at 2nd Comber and a sum of £5,000 was to be raised over the next three years. Suggested improvements included re-seating of the church, the provision of accommodation for weddings etc, a Communion Table, a new pulpit, a minister’s room, a kitchen, and a general improvement in the approach to the church. The scheme was to be the congregation’s war memorial in honour of those who served in H.M. Forces, and in remembrance of those who died. A gift day was held on Harvest Sunday which raised £3,151.
There had been a relaxation of street lighting in regard to the blackout. Mr Quinn pointed out to the Council that in Comber they had moon lighting, and it was proving a great boon.
In November Temporary Lieut. James Osborne King RNVR of Comber was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for “outstanding courage, resolution and skill while serving in light coastal craft in many successful engagements with the enemy”.
Star of Comber Royal Black Preceptory No 186 marked their golden jubilee in December with a social evening in the Orange Hall.
56 competitors took part in the first ploughing match held by Comber Young Farmers’ Club on 23rd December at Ballywilliam.
A sculpture by well-known Holywood sculptress Rosamund Praeger was placed in Comber Non-Subscribing Church. It was commissioned by Eva Andrews, and lists the names of her late parents, sister and brother. It also gives credit to her ancestor James Andrews as one of the founders of the church and donor of the site.
Captain Robert Alexander Johnston, Officer in Charge of Comber Home Guard, was awarded the MBE in the New Years’ Honours List.
In January Margaret Ann Dunbar, aged 64 years, of Mount Alexander, was found dead in her home after falling into the fire. It was thought she had had a seizure and fell forward.
Whiskey distillation resumed in Comber after a break of around two years.
Three German prisoners of war who escaped from a camp on 19th January were recaptured. One was found asleep in a byre belonging to Mr J L O Andrews of Ballywilliam House. The others were apprehended by a “B” Special when walking along a road near Ballygowan.
On 10th February a wedding took place in the Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace, London. The happy couple were Lieutenant James Osborne King, son of the late Mr James King and of Mrs King of Carnesure, Comber, and the Hon. Elizabeth Patricia White, daughter of Lord and Lady Annaly.
Comber Farmers’ Union held a sale on 24th February on behalf of the Red Cross Agriculture Fund. The sale was declared open by Lord Glentoran, chairman of the Fund. Over £300 was raised.
A dance in the Andrews Hall in February was organised by Mrs David Munn, wife of the Master of the North Down Harriers Hunt, to raise money for Ards District Hospital. This was in lieu of the annual Hunt Ball which had not been held since 1942. The normal Hunt Ball resumed on 29th November.
At the annual meeting of Comber Unionist Association on 26th February it was proposed that a junior association be formed. John Miller Andrews spoke of problems facing the country, including shortage of houses and lack of a proper water supply. He also touched on the controversial subject of teaching religion in schools.
On Easter Monday Comber branch of the Apprentice Boys of Derry was inaugurated in the Orange Hall. Among those present were representatives of the Londonderry, Belfast and Newtownards Clubs. Sir James Wilton, President of the parent club, conducted the inauguration ceremony. David McDonald, who had been elected president of the Comber branch, received a charter on its behalf. On 11th June, at a dance in the Orange Hall, presentations were made to Thomas Dunn and John Gamble of the Newtownards Branch in recognition of the work done by them in the formation of the Comber Branch.
On Easter Tuesday the Belfast County Lodge of the Juveniles held its annual demonstration at Comber. The parade was to a field at Mount Alexander. A sports programme for the members was held at the venue.
On 6th April over 500 people assembled in the Andrews Hall for the first public display given by the Girls Club in connection with 1st Comber, formed 6 months previously. There were about 65 members in the club. Items included relaxation exercises, dances, club swinging, maze marching, skipping, and the ever popular O’Grady drill. Miss White, organising secretary of the Federation of Girls’ Clubs in Northern Ireland, was present, and congratulated Miss Horner and her helpers, along with the girls, for the marvellous show they had put on.
VE Day was celebrated on Tuesday 8th May. The day began in Comber with a united thanksgiving service conducted by the local clergy in the Andrews Memorial Hall. Bands paraded the town, and after dark a huge bonfire was set alight on Maryborough Hill. The Square was flood-lit. On Wednesday 9th, following a parade of the local services, a drumhead service was held in the cricket grounds, at which the local clergy officiated. Sports for the children were held in the afternoon, while at night the Andrews Hall was the venue for a victory dance.
First Comber Presbyterian Church celebrated its three hundredth anniversary, and special tercentenary services were held on 12th May. The Right Rev Andrew Gibson, Moderator of the General Assembly, was the speaker in the morning, while the evening speaker was Rev Prof J L M Haire. The offerings were devoted to the building of porches in the church. The celebrations continued on 16th May with a social in the Andrews Hall, presided over by Rev McKean. Speakers included Dr Gibson, Clerk of the General Assembly, Rev George Boyd, Rev Dr W K McLernon of Ballygowan, Rev James E Jones of 2nd Comber, and Mr John Miller Andrews. Rev Prof R L Marshall spoke on the history of the Church on 19th May.
The UK Civil Defence Forces were officially “stood down” on 31st May, and on 15th June the Comber personnel held a farewell supper in the Andrews Memorial Hall, presided over by Dr B R Henry, Chief Warden.
On 27th June, at an open air meeting in Comber Square, Lieutenant-Colonel John M Blakiston-Houston, one of the official Unionist candidates at the forthcoming Westminster General Election, urged the electors to turn out and give him their votes.
The Twelfth of July was celebrated for the first time since 1939 and the venue for the local districts was Comber. The day was observed as one of thanksgiving for the victory in Europe, and the procession in Comber was one of the biggest seen in that town for many years. Bro George Halliday, Worshipful Master of Comber District, presided at the meeting in a field provided by John Miller Andrews. Rev J K L McKean conducted the thanksgiving service, with praise being led by a choir under Bro Harry McCormick.
Also on 12th July Ballydrain Harriers organised a sports meeting at North Down Cricket Grounds. The proceeds were in aid of Kilmood and District Nursing Society, and the programme consisted of flat and cycle races. Over £250 was raised.
At morning service in Second Comber on 12th August, Rev Jones referred to the resignation, on retirement, of the Church’s organist – Mr J V Raffles.
Following the end of the war with Japan, peace parties were held. One such was on Wednesday 29th August for the children in Lower Crescent, which was artistically decorated. Over 50 children sat down to an excellent tea, catered for by Mr Wm Campbell, Newtownards. Floodlighting arrangements were carried out by Messrs Irvine’s Radio Stores, Newtownards, who also provided the radio equipment and music for the dancing, which continued until nearly 2 o’clock on Thursday morning. A musical competition was won by Miss Bailie.
Another victory party was organised by Mr Orr, principal of Ballystockart P.E. School, in a field at Ballystockart on Saturday afternoon 1st September. After tea, a programme of races took place, and the winners received money prizes. Subsequently the older people enjoyed dancing in the schoolroom.
On 5th September Messrs J Hedley and N Smyth, postmen drivers, were presented with Diplomas awarded under the National Safe Driving Competition organised by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. During 1944 they had completed four years’ continuous driving, during which neither was involved in an accident for which he was in any way to blame.
Comber Young Farmers’ Club held their first horticultural show on 15th September.
A Thanksgiving Savings Drive organised by Comber War Savings Committee got under way on 22nd September. Thomas Bailie MP was the speaker at the opening ceremony in Comber Square, and the band of the Royal Ulster Rifles rendered selections. Planes of the RAF gave a flying display over Comber at 11 am. On Tuesday 25th there were A.T.C. and A.C.F. parades, and an A.T.C. display, and on Wednesday 26th a dance in the Andrews Hall in aid of Ards District Hospital. On Thursday evening 27th a meeting in the Andrews Hall was addressed by Admiral McKinnon and Captain Harry Morgan of the 1st Airborne Division,. On Friday 28th there was children’s community singing, and on Saturday 29th sports at the cricket ground organised by Ballydrain Harriers and consisting of cycling events and a six mile inter-team cross country race.
At the annual meeting of Comber British Legion held on 9th October, Mr J L Northmore reported the resignation of Miss Alice de Wind as secretary to the Services Committee which included organising the Poppy Day collection.
At a meeting in October some former members of the Home Guard decided to form a rifle club. On that same occasion Captain Harry McCormick was presented with a solid silver cigarette case, in recognition of the work he had done for the Home Guard in Comber.
On 16th October Charles McManus of Cherryvalley was sentenced to four months’ imprisonment with hard labour for bigamously marrying Sophia Cummings of Lecale Street, Belfast.
Comber and District Welfare Advisory Committee was appointed at a public meeting in October with Harry McCormick as chairman. A deputation from the committee attended a meeting of the Rural District Council on 8th December, and urged for the immediate erection of houses, including consideration of the reconditioning of military huts. Other matters discussed were the provision of a proper water supply, the necessity for a public convenience, the installation of traffic lights at the Square, and the sanitary conveyance. At present this was simply a farm cart and rubbish from it got blown about the streets.
£400 was raised for the Welcome Home Fund at a Harvest Fair held in Comber on 27th October. The fair, held in the headquarters of the A.C.F., was packed with exhibitors, buyers and spectators. Mr Osborne King auctioneered various items including a collection of livestock. Newtownards Silver Band paraded the town, and later played musical items at the fair.
Flying Officer William Thompson Hamilton Watt of Comber was awarded the D.F.C.
Mr William Henry Spence of Brownlow Terrace died on 16th November after a short illness at the age of 82. He was a former principal of the Londonderry National School in Comber, having retired in 1928.
Improved lighting was provided at Comber Railway Station after a deputation from the Comber and district Vigilance Committee recently met with Samuel Johnston, the stationmaster.
Work commenced on the removal of air raid shelters.
Sergeant. J Montgomery, recently repatriated from Burma where he had been a prisoner of the Japanese for 3½ years, was presented with a gift of Treasury notes from his friends in the Ballyrainey area at a meeting in the Andrews Hall on 6th December.
Mr Wm Pollock, principal of Comber Elementary School, was presented with a silver salver on 18th December on the occasion of his retirement. He also received a gift from 1st Comber where he had been Clerk of Session for over 30 years. Mr and Mrs Pollock were leaving Comber to live in Donaghadee.
George Halliday, Worshipful Master of Comber District LOL for the past 7 years, was presented with a gold watch in recognition of his services at a District Lodge meeting on 7th January.
A 52-year-old man called James Dunbar was killed in the Andrews Spinning Mill on 12th January after being crushed in the machinery.
At a meeting of local farmers in January it was decided to form a vegetable growing division of the Northern Ireland Horticultural Development Association. The production of vegetables for pickling and preserving was the subject of an interesting lecture in October.
A club room was opened on 12th February by Mr J M Andrews for members of the now disbanded Comber Civil Defence Services at their former headquarters in High Street.
Harold Cameron took over as the new principal of Comber Public Elementary School on 1st March. Later in the year (19th September) presentations were made by the staff and pupils to Mr and Mrs Cameron on the occasion of their recent marriage.
On 19th March Princess Elizabeth (the future Queen Elizabeth II) paid a visit to Comber. She attended a baptism in St Mary's Parish Church where she was godmother to Elizabeth Lavinia Sara - the infant daughter of James Osborne King and his wife, the former Elizabeth Patricia White, who had been lady-in-waiting to the Princess. The ceremony was performed by the Bishop of Down and Dromore, the Right Rev W S Kerr, assisted by the Rev J S Houston, Rector of Comber. Comber was decked in flags and bunting, and the day was bathed in glorious sunshine. Hundreds of people crammed into the Square, eager to catch a glimpse of the heiress to the Throne. Many workers were given time off, and the children of Comber P.E. School were given a place of honour in the enclosure just outside the church gates. Cheering greeted the Princess who wore a canary-green coat, with tan shoes and stockings, and a green beret. The area round the font at the rear of the church was an arbour of flowers, and the guests crowded round for the 20-minute ceremony, during which the Princess held the baby in her arms for about a minute. Afterwards the Princess appeared at the porch along with the baby and her parents. Here she clasped the baby in her arms and dozens of photos were taken. Then she was driven to the home of Mr and Mrs King at Carnesure House where she remained for a while before returning to Belfast.
Second Comber Young People's Guild organised a Spring Sale and Fun Fair in the Andrews Hall on 23rd March to raise money for the Three-Year Improvement Scheme in connection with the Church.
On 4th March a young merchant navy man called Hugh Bennett, home on leave, died after drowning in the starch mill pond.
William Cardwell of Cattogs died on 5th April of injuries received when his pedal cycle was involved in an accident with a motor car in Castle Street on 21st March.
A function was held in the Andrews Hall on 24th April at which 124 men and women who had served with the Forces during the war were presented with cheques from the Welcome Home Fund. Those gathered stood in silence in remembrance of those who had made the supreme sacrifice - Hans Calvert, Wm Jordan Cooke, Hugh Craig, Tom McCloud, Ritson Petts, William Pollock, James Shields, John Sturgeon, Irwin Taylor, Matthew Wilson and Thomas Wilson, plus Hugh Bennett and Colville Dempster, who had died since discharge from the Service.
William Todd of Ballybeen, Comber was jailed for one month after obtaining money by false pretences. He had gone round a number of people in the town collecting subscriptions to bury his dead child. The story was completely untrue.
J Dougan of Upper Crescent was one of the 50-strong British Commonwealth Air Contingent at the Occupation Forces Empire Day parade in Tokyo, Japan.
Comber Farmers' Union organised a protest meeting, attended by representatives of many branches, in First Comber Church Hall on 19th August. Under discussion was the question of agricultural prices, which were deemed insufficient to cover increased costs of production.
Killynether Castle, handed over by the Weir family to the National Trust and equipped as a country centre for training and recreational purposes, was officially opened by Mrs Debra Parker on 28th September.
Countess Granville, wife of the Governor of Northern Ireland and sister of Queen Elizabeth, opened the harvest sale and fun fair held in the Andrews Hall on 28th September. The event was organised by St Mary's Parish Church to raise funds for a new parochial hall.
War hero, Lt.-Col. R Blair Mayne DSO, was guest of honour at a concert held in the Andrews Hall on 30th October by Comber Technical School.
A Women's Guild was formed at Second Comber. This organisation had its origins in the Comforts Work Party which provided comforts for the men and women of the Church serving in HM Forces during the war.
Tribute was paid in November to David Quinn and William Davidson, who were retiring as Comber representatives on the Newtownards Rural District Council after many years' service.
Several matters occupied the attention of the Council during 1946. Housing was a major issue, and former military huts were seen as a temporary measure. By April these had been taken over by the Council, but work on reconditioning was slow to commence. Work eventually began in August on what became known as "Tintown". Approval was also obtained for the building of a housing estate by the Housing Trust on Darragh Road. Moves were under way to bring a piped water supply to the North Down area from the Silent Valley, but there were difficulties to be overcome. There was also discussion on the provision of public conveniences. Originally the Square had been suggested for these, but the Comber people opposed this, preferring a site in Castle Street beside Uraghmore. It was also proposed that the Council take over the former Gas Cleansing Station as a child clinic and dispensary. Finally, the Council persuaded the Northern Ireland Road Transport Board to institute a bus service between Newtownards and Comber, but they would not extend it to Ballygowan.
About thirty families, occupants of military huts in Comber, held a meeting on 15th January, at which emphasis was placed on the necessity of having the huts put into a habitable condition. Mr William Julian, chairman, referred to a deputation which visited Stormont and met Government officials. Complaints included lack of speed in conversion of the dwellings, no electricity or gas, and no protection to keep out rodents. Half the occupants had to call in the medical profession due to the extreme cold of the huts and their leaky condition. Although sewers had been laid, no attempt had been made to provide conveniences, while housewives had to go 400 yards for a supply of water and 50 yards to dump refuse. The lives of children were in danger from two unprotected rivers running through the camp grounds. In February the Council and the Ministry of Health agreed to give the matter their fullest consideration. However, no great progress had been made by the end of the year.
In February a protest was submitted by Comber and District Welfare and Advisory Committee at the proposed transfer of Comber Technical Day School to Newtownards. The transfer never took place.
Also in February Dr C H Gibson, a member of a well-known Crossgar family, demobilised after service with the RAF, commenced a medical practice in Castle Street.
At a meeting of Comber Vigilance Committee on 6th March the idea of an urban council to deal with local affairs for Comber was mooted. It was felt that Comber's interests were not being properly looked after, one instance being the drastic shortage of houses. It was shocking that the main streets in Comber were snowbound for ten days and the Council did not even make an effort to clear it away. Complaints had been made by the residents of Castle Street about snow banked three feet high, with only room for single-line traffic up the centre.
Dennis Northmore, son of Mr J L Northmore, serving in the Merchant Navy, had a narrow escape from death in the North Sea on 13th March. When his ship, the Empire Jonquil, caught fire he was trapped in his cabin and just managed to squeeze out through the porthole.
On 18th March a serious fire occurred on the premises of the Comber Produce Co. 600 chickens were destroyed.
On 19th March Comber British Legion arranged a welcome home evening for men and women from the district who had served in the recent war. The official welcome was given by Comrade J L Northmore, and this was followed by tea, discussion of various topics, and a programme of entertainment. At their annual meeting on 23rd October, disappointment was expressed that events organised by the Entertainments Committee had not been well supported. This had been formed in an attempt to attract the newer and younger members.
James McAlpine of Castleavery, a well-known farmer, died on 22nd March. Rev Jones paid a glowing tribute to him in Second Comber at the Sunday morning service following his death.
Another death was that of William Baxter of Mill Street, who had worked for 51 years in the Mill. He was considered to be an authority on cricket and also on the works of Robert Burns.
In March the Council acquired ground in Castle Street for a sanitary convenience. However, by the end of the year this had still not been provided.
At the annual meeting of Comber Farmers' Union on 31st March, John M Andrews MP was congratulated for the stand he took on behalf of the farming community in protesting and voting against the introduction of Double Summer Time in Ulster. A new set of rules was adopted governing the election of office-bearers limiting the chairman's tenure of office to one year and he would not be eligible for re-election until at least two years elapsed. Mr Alexander Johnston was appointed.
Corporal J Ritchie of Comber Army Cadet Force was presented with a silver cup at a social evening on 2nd May. This was in recognition of his selection as goalkeeper for the Great Britain cadet football team.
The residents of Comber and district presented a flag to the Old Comrades' Association in memory of those men who joined the ranks of the 13th Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles in 1914. This was dedicated and handed over at a special service in Second Comber Presbyterian Church on 11th May. Over 160 members of the various branches of the Association throughout the county were present.
On 17th July a presentation was made by the Session and Committee of Second Comber Presbyterian Church to Mr and Mrs F C Allen, who were leaving the district. And at a congregational social held in the Andrews Hall in October, it was revealed that the fund of the Church Improvement Scheme launched three years ago now stood at £7,545.
At a meeting of Comber Welfare and Advisory Committee in July, concern was expressed at the suitability of films being shown to children in the local cinema. It was decided that the cinema management be approached. In August the supply of toilet paper for Public Elementary schools was deemed inadequate, while the deplorable bathing facilities at Island Hill were also discussed. The old bathing boxes put up by a private swimming club were not substantial and bathers had to undress in the open. Proper bathing huts should be erected. Reference was also made to the large amount of glass lying about the shore.
The unthinkable happened! North Down Cricket Club were relegated from the Senior League for the first time in their history.
Contributions were collected in Comber during October for a wedding gift for Princess Elizabeth.
In October the Welfare Committee were infuriated by a letter from the Ministry of Health and Local Government, which stated that a deputation from Comber to bring forward such points as housing would serve no useful purpose. The letter summarised the housing position. The Housing Trust proposed to have 250 houses erected on a site at Kennel Bridge, and their application for a vesting order was under consideration by the Ministry. In addition, the Council had proposals for a site at Carnesure for 30 houses. Supply of materials was cited as the reason for delay in completing conversion work on the huts at Killinchy Street. In December the housing situation brought about a sharp exchange of views between Rev Jones, chairman of the Welfare Committee, and Mr W J Bailie, chairman of Ards Rural Council.
Captain Norman McD Nevin of Court Street, Newtownards was appointed as Welfare and Sports Officer of the 3rd (North Down) Cadet Battalion, The Royal Ulster Rifles.
The first definite step towards providing a supply of water for domestic purposes for residents throughout the Ards and those in the Ballygowan-Comber and Castlereagh areas was taken on 27th October, when William Grant, Minister of Health and Local Government, placed the first of the pipes in position at Killaney near Saintfield. Later the dignitaries attended a function in the Andrews Hall, Comber.
Miss Alice de Wind of Barnhill died on 7th November after a short illness. She was best known for her work as Poppy Day organiser in connection with the Comber British Legion. Her brother Edmund won the Victoria Cross during the First World War.
At a meeting of Comber Platoon of the "Specials" on 20th November, a large number of colleagues and guests from the neighbouring districts were entertained to supper on the occasion of the handing over of the District Commandant's Shield for .22 indoor shooting to the Comber Platoon for 1947, and to the Donaghadee and Newtownards Platoons for 1945 and 1946 respectively. Ten days later about 150 Special Constabulary of the Newtownards district attended a service in Second Comber. High tribute was paid to the excellent work being done by the members of the Force. The parade to the church was led by the band of the Ulster Special Constabulary, and the men were inspected in the Square by Sir Richard Pim, Inspector General of the RUC.
A meeting took place in December between representatives of the Ards Rural and Borough Councils to consider provision of a joint sewerage disposal works for Comber and Newtownards. The scheme was approved in principle.
In January the Northern Ireland Road Transport Board turned down an application from Comber Welfare Committee to have a bus shelter provided for passengers convenient to Comber Square.
On 9th February Comber and Saintfield Young Farmers' Clubs acted as hosts to members of the international ploughing teams from Canada, England and Scotland at a meeting in the Andrews Memorial Hall. Peter Fitzpatrick of the Ministry of Agriculture formally welcomed the visitors. The evening included a meal and dancing.
The future of Nursing Associations was discussed at the annual meeting of Comber and District Nursing Association on 25th February, when concern was expressed at "gaps" in public health legislation. An assurance was given that the authorities had no intention of putting an end to the activities of such associations, but hoped they would supplement the health services provided by the State.
Huntsmen from throughout County Down gathered at Cattogs House on 17th March to make a presentation to David Munn, former master of the North Down Harriers.
At the annual congregational social of First Comber on 1st April, Rev McKean MA, mentioned that he had been asked by Boys' Brigade headquarters to form another company in Comber. So far numbers had been low, and he appealed for recruits.
Comber Farmers' Union organised a protest meeting on 3rd May in the Andrews Hall. They demanded a petrol rationing scheme more suited to local conditions and administered by the Ulster Government; also an adjustment of the new income-tax system that would avoid the "vexatious and useless task" of keeping books.
Comber Welfare Committee discussed complaints about Comber gas on 10th May. They were also informed that the Northern Ireland Road Transport Board had agreed to extend the 8.35 am Saintfield-Comber bus service from the Square to the school for a trial period.
Tribute was paid on 13th May by Goldsprings LOL 1037 to Thomas Smyth, who had held the position of worshipful master for nine years. A memento was presented by W J McKibbin.
Fire broke out on 18th May in a large hay shed on the farm of Thomas McAlpin, Mount Alexander. The Newtownards Fire Brigade, handicapped through lack of a water supply, pitch-forked two tons of hay into an adjoining field, where it was burned out. Thus they saved the shed itself from damage.
At the annual meeting of Comber Welfare Committee on 31st May, Mr J L Northmore created a stir by proposing that the Committee should be disbanded. The resolution was defeated by a large majority.
Repairs were not adequately carried out at the huts in Killinchy Street, and residents refused to pay the increased rent of 7/6 per week. There was also trouble with residents of the huts at Newtownards Road, stating that if electricity was not completely installed by 25th October they would pay reduced weekly rent.
Mr William J McKibbin of Carnesure died in June in his 73rd year. A tailor by trade, he was a founder member of Comber Bowling Club, but his chief interest was centred in the Orange Order. He was a Past District Master of Comber.
The Comber Cadet Force held a social evening on 18th June to celebrate winning the Inter-Unit Football League Cup for the second season in succession. The cup was handed over to the captain, L/Cpl. A McMillan, by Lieut.-Col. A J McKibbin , commanding officer of the 3rd Cadet Battalion, R.U.R.
General Sir James Steele, colonel-in-chief of the Royal Ulster Rifles, visited Comber on Thursday morning 1st July, the occasion of a flag day on behalf of the R.U.R. Benevolent Fund. Prior to his arrival, the pipe band of the 1st Battalion R.U.R. from Ballykinlar marched to the Square, where they rendered a stirring selection of music. Wreaths were laid by Miss Edith de Wind; by Corporal J Murphy on behalf of the A.C.F., and by Mrs J M Andrews.
Much frustration was caused by the lack of progress in erecting new houses in Comber. The Housing Trust eventually commenced work on the Darragh Road site in September, and a protest meeting about the delay was called off at the last minute. There were problems for the Council's proposed housing at Carnesure when the contractor pulled out of the job because he couldn't get the necessary insurance. Concern was expressed by Comber Welfare Committee that the houses would not be allocated to Comber people.
At a meeting of Comber Welfare Committee on 26th July, there was strong criticism of the absence of the local representatives on the Newtownards Rural District Council. Delegates were appointed to attend a protest meeting about increased bus fares.
The 20th Northern Ireland Company of the Girls' Brigade was formed at Second Comber in the autumn. First united enrolment service with the 50th Belfast Boys' Brigade Company took place in November.
Thomas McBurney of Moatville died on 31st July, aged 83. He was an expert on market gardening, and was frequently consulted by the Ministry of Agriculture who carried out many experiments on his farm.
In August the Down Health Committee stated that it was no longer interested in the gas cleansing station at Comber as a clinic.
John Miller Andrews was elected Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland on 8th September.
The death occurred in October of William Davidson, an extensive farmer. He had formerly represented Comber on the Newtownards Rural District Council.
Comber Pipe Band hosted a concert on 27th October in the Andrews Hall to aid funds.
Work was slow on the Comber Water Scheme, but by November the first consignment of pipes had arrived and work got under way.
Comber Welfare Committee attempted to get the post office to stay open until seven o'clock, and also at lunch time, in order to facilitate the public, but they had received no satisfaction.
On 3rd December recognition was given by Second Comber to their minister Rev Jones on the completion of 21 years ministry in the congregation. At a meeting in the Andrews Hall he was presented with pulpit robes and a wallet of notes, while Mrs Jones and their daughter Rosalind also received gifts.
The saga of a public convenience for Comber rolled on. Comber Welfare Committee organised a ballot to gauge the opinion of Comber people on where it should be erected. A large majority favoured the centre of the Square.
Comber Welfare Committee organised a Christmas treat for over 500 children in the Andrews Hall on 28th December. James Mullan and William McClure provided music on their accordions. As the children left, each one received a gift from Father Christmas.
The Council called into question the validity of the ballot taken by Comber Welfare Committee on the preferred site for the proposed public convenience, with Mr McCormick pointing out that many of the ballot papers had not been collected. On 20th January the Council voted for the perimeter of the Square.
Andrew Gordon of Brownlow Street was killed on 26th January when he fell 20 feet from scaffolding at a factory on Belfast's Crumlin Road.
In January James Martin of Comber became lightweight boxing champion of the Air Training Corps in Northern Ireland.
The gas cleansing station in Mill Street was suggested as a site for public baths and a library at a Council meeting on 3rd February. At the same meeting a tender for thirty parlour houses at Carnesure was being considered. However, it was decided to shelve the Carnesure scheme as being too costly. On 17th February two new housing plans were considered, at Carstrand Bridge and Ballyhenry, but the Ministry turned down the application. In April Mr McCormick was pressing for a cheaper type of house. He didn't think the Housing Trust were fitting the bill; houses would not be got under £1 a week plus rates. There were over 60 Comber families living in huts, and they would have to be got out of them. On 1st June it was reported to Council that another site had been found on the Newtownards Road, beside Lower Crescent. Plans for this were passed by the Ministry in August.
It was announced at the AGM of Comber Tennis Club on 10th February that the memory of two former members killed in the war would be perpetuated by a plaque to be unveiled in the near future.
The RUC Athletic Association staged a boxing tournament in the Andrews Hall on 23rd February. There were fourteen contests, three of which ended inside the distance. One of the boxers was J Rutherford from Comber. Sir Richard Pim, Inspector-General of the RUC, distributed the awards.
William Crichton of Killinchy Street passed away on 3rd March. He was employed for 38 years by James Milling, entrusted with the delivery of high-class horses to Holland, France and Germany.
Comber and District Choral Union, formed by Henry Donnan, made their first public appearance on 15th March in the Andrews Hall.
On 16th March Norman Nevin was presented with a dressing-set by the parents of the Comber Cadets. It was handed over by Mrs J McKnight, who stated the mothers were only too pleased to honour one who had done so much for the welfare of their boys.
Samuel Gracey of Gwenville died on 18th March. He was chairman of the Northern Ireland Tyre Service Co Ltd. In his younger days he was a keen racing cyclist and won many awards on the track, and in hockey circles he was regarded as one of the best half-backs in the province.
Cpl. Harry McKnight of Upper Crescent was presented with a trophy at a function held in his honour by the Comber Army Cadet Force on 16th March. This was to mark his selection for the I.F.A. youth eleven.
On 31st March Samuel Houston of Carnesure was presented with a wallet of notes on his retirement from the Andrews Mill after 42 years.
There was general feeling among the members of Comber Welfare Committee that it would cease to function after the AGM on 31st March. However, a proposal to disband was defeated. On 25th April the Press were banned from all future meetings.
Mr Harkness, Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, and Professor James Morrison, chairman of the Young Farmers' Clubs in Ulster, were among the speakers at the first annual dinner of Comber Young Farmers' Club, held in the Andrews Memorial Hall on 29th March. A magnificent challenge cup was presented by the president, Mr Joseph Stewart, to be awarded to the member gaining highest points in competitions throughout the year.
At the AGM of Comber Nursing Society on 13th April reference was made to the death of Lord Londonderry. The report by Mrs R A Johnston pointed to confusion in the role of Nursing Societies under the new National Health Scheme. The one certainty was that there was a need in Comber for a welfare clinic. Mrs Johnston intimated that it might be possible to hire the Minor Hall of the Andrews Memorial Hall for this purpose and the health authorities would pay for it.
The newly-formed Mid-Down Divisional Labour Party held their May Day meeting in Comber Square on 30th April. Mr William Coster of Killinchy Street, the chairman of the party, presided. William Thomas Morrow of Ballyrush, the Party's candidate for the forthcoming Council elections, spoke on the party programme as it affected the area.
Dismay greeted the Ulster Transport Authority's proposal to close the County Down Railway with the exception of the Bangor and Castlewellan branches, and a protest meeting was held in the Andrews Hall on 4th May. Mr J M Andrews said that this was a rash decision, taken only a few weeks after the UTA were given responsibility for the line, and pointed out that they had exceeded their powers by actually canvassing against the railway. He admitted there might be large losses, but thought money should be spent on supporting it. Rail cars could be introduced and unnecessary competition between road and rail services reduced. Was the 100,000 tons of goods currently carried by the County Down Railway now going to be thrown on to the roads? Mr David Munn gave details of the steps being taken by Down County Council, and he assured the meeting that they would do everything in their power to keep the main line going. Rev J E Jones proposed a resolution approving the action of Down County Council and others in opposing the closure. "We particularly deplore and strongly protest against the proposed removal of the travelling facilities provided by the railway and used daily by hundreds of Comber people". Other speakers were Mr Harry McCormick, Rev J K L McKean and Mr William Magreeghan.
A public meeting was held on 9th May to discuss erecting a war memorial to Comber people who fell and served in the Second World War. A committee was formed, with Dr Brian Henry as chairman, and a letter sent out to each family in Comber and district appealing for support. By 5th December £940 had been received. It had been agreed that the memorial should take the form of a Garden of Remembrance in the Square, incorporating the existing war memorial.
Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh paid an unscheduled visit to Comber on 28th May, when they drove down from Hillsborough to the residence of the King family at Carnesure.
John Charles McShane, an 18-year-old Tyrone man working for William Murdock at Mount Alexander, was killed on 13th June when a tractor overturned and he was pinned underneath it. It was not a good year for Mr Murdock, whose barn at Mount Alexander was completely gutted in August in a fire.
On 24th June presentations were made to Comber cadets by Lieut.-Col. A J McKibbin. In the Imperial Shield shooting competition, Comber and Newtownards marksmen had gained the highest average. Comber had also won the battalion football league for the third consecutive time. The trophy was handed over to L/Cpl. J Robinson, the team captain.
Presentations were made by First Comber Presbyterian Church to their minister, Rev J K L McKean, and his sister Mrs Holmes at a meeting in the Andrews Memorial Hall on 29th June. A cheque was handed over to Mr McKean by ladies of the work party on behalf of the congregation, while Mrs Holmes was given a china tea set. The work party had also raised several hundred pounds for the erection of porches at the entrance to the church, and for the replacement of the present coloured glass windows by stained glass windows.
The Council were told on 7th July that an accumulation of 20 years' rubbish had been cleared away from the rear of Comber Cemetery. The rubbish consisted of grass cut in the cemetery, and material collected from the clearing of the graves.
On 15th July J M Andrews was appointed as Imperial Grand Master of the Orange Order.
The Council approached the Ministry of Health and Local Government about grants for the provision of a playing field for youth clubs in Comber. The Ministry suggested they approach the Ministry of Education. Mr McCormick said the field was already there in Distillery Lane in the hands of trustees, but funds were needed to keep it in order. He thought it should be taken over by the Council.
Several of Ulster's top athletic and cycling stars were among the competitors at a sports meeting organised by Ballydrain Harriers and held at North Down Cricket Ground on 6th August. The main event was the three-mile NI Cycling Championship, won by J Jess of Belfast CC.
The Housing Trust, who had planned to build 244 houses in Comber of a traditional type, decided to change to the Orlit type house. Plans were submitted to the Council meeting on 5th August. In October the Trust submitted proposed street names - Lisleen Way, Carnesure Cross, Lisbarnet Way, Killynether Drive, Ballyrush Place, Ringcreevy Close, Drumhirk Gardens, and Cullintraw Close. It was thought these would cause confusion with the postal authorities, and in December it was decided to suggest that the names of islands in Strangford Lough be used.
Mrs King of Carnesure lost her sister, along with her husband and two children, in an air crash near Manchester on 19th August.
The death occurred of William O'Prey of Braeside on 27th August. He was a life-long employee in the Andrews mill, and was for many years a member of the Comber Amateur Flute Band. When Comber Silver Band was recently formed Mr O'Prey was appointed its first chairman.
North Down Cricket Club won the Senior Qualifying League, securing top-flight cricket once more for the 1950 season.
Second Comber BB marked the beginning of their jubilee year with a guest tea in the Andrews Hall on 7th September. Rev Jones expressed the regret they all felt at the absence of the captain, Mr John Shields, through illness. He also referred to the company silver band which had been formed to mark the jubilee, and thought it interesting that the Comber Amateur Band, which had its foundation in the company, had also in this jubilee year become a silver band.
£160 was raised at a guest tea held on behalf of Comber Technical School on 5th October. The money was for a trip planned by Mr Kelso, the principal, to take a group of boys to Paris next Easter. A further concert was held on 1st December.
For the first time members of the local branch of the Women's Section were among the guests at the annual reunion of Comber Branch of the British Legion, held in the Andrews Memorial Hall on 4th November.
The new headquarters of the Comber Civil Defence Club in Mill Street were declared open by Harry McCormick on 3rd November. The building was the former gas cleansing station.
£158 was raised at a guest tea organised by the Women's League of Comber Unitarian Church on 17th November in aid of the church hall renovation fund.
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