Belfast Telegraph

Friday 24 October 2014

All Our Yesterdays: US Troops in Northern Ireland

The memorial to the arrival of US Forces in Northern Ireland, in 1942, at the grounds of Belfast City Hall, seen here being carefully restored before the visit of US President Bill Clinton. 1995.
The first troops of the United States expeditionery force to Europe arrive in Belfast. The troops disembarked at the Spencer Basin and the photograph shows a detachment marching along Duncrue Street. 26/1/1942.
General Dwight Eisenhower, on his visit to Belfast, looks upon the memorial to the arrival of US troops in Northern Ireland at Belfast City Hall. 24/8/1945

On January 26, 1942, the first American soldiers to land in the European theatre of operations in World War Two disembarked their troop ships in Belfast docks. Exactly one year later the city saw the anniversary as an occasion to celebrate.

And what a celebration it turned out to be. "The most brilliant military spectacle to be staged in the British Isles since the outbreak of the Second World War," was how the Belfast Telegraph described the events of January 26, 1943.

A commemorative stone, sculpted by Belfast stonemasons Purdy and Millard, and bearing the crests of US Army, Marines and Navy alongside a portion of the Belfast coat of arms, was unveiled by the Governor of Northern Ireland, the Duke of Abercorn, in the grounds of the City Hall. A message of thanks from the US President, Franklin D Roosevelt, was read out to the gathering, and distinguished guests at the ceremony, which included the American forces commander at the time of the arrival, Major General Russel P Hartle.

The massed bands of the Royal Ulster Rifles and the Royal Irish Fusiliers accompanied a march-past of US soldiers, marines, sailors and nurses, and rows of British and American troops stood shoulder to shoulder along the length of Donegall Square North.

Here are a selection of general images of the US troops in Northern Ireland and the City Hall memorial.

By Paul Carson

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