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Ulster log: Nostalgic look at the US airmen over here

By Eddie McIlwaine

Published 28/11/2015

Overhead and Over Here
Overhead and Over Here

Nobody knows for sure who dreamt up the wartime slang phrase Overpaid, Oversexed and Over here - one theory is that it was a Belfast journalist in that era. It was a way of describing the American airmen and soldiers who rolled into the province during the Second World War to prepare for battle. Ulster folk welcomed the Yanks, but were aware of their shortcomings.

Anyway, Ernie Cromie, a former chairman for 30 years of the Ulster Aviation Society, has adapted a version of the familiar saying as the title of his new book that is a succinct account of American military aviation here during the war. He calls it Overhead And Over Here (Northern Ireland War Memorial £8). There have been several histories down the years on the same subject but, after years of research, Ernie's absorbing 12 chapters top the lot.

In his inimitable way Cromie (72) describes the activities that took place at Langford Lodge on the Lough Neagh shore and numerous other airfields throughout the country that were used by personnel and aircraft of the United States Army Air Forces, United States Naval Air Service and Lockheed Overseas Corporation.

More particularly, these included fighter defence, the training of bomber crews, combat operations against the U-boats, delivery of new aircraft from the USA, how they were modified for service in the United Kingdom and beyond, as well as their subsequent onward delivery from Langford Lodge.

Other aspects of the story, which actually began well before the US officially entered the war, include the socio-economic and cultural impact of the tens of thousands of American personnel, civil as well as military, who were stationed here.

And the final chapter is a poignant reminder of the human cost of war, with reference to the US Military Cemetery at Lisnabreeny, near Belfast, in which 148 servicemen were buried, around half of whom were airmen.

Sinead will have us all singing in the aisles

Soprano Sinead O’Kelly (24), a student at the Royal College of Music in London, will be home in Belfast to appear with Alan Corry and his Festival Brass at their Christmas concert in Glenmachan Church on December 12.

She will be singing her favourite carol O Little Town of Bethlehem “because I love the words”.

Apart from carols, Sinead, with ambitions to be an opera diva (if she isn’t one already), enjoys a little bit of jazz and songs from the shows.

During her stay at home she will also be appearing with the Ulster Orchestra conducted by Christopher Bell in The Braid, Ballymena (November 30), the Alley Theatre, Strabane (December 1), the Aurora Complex, Bangor (December 3) and also at the Ulster Hall (December 3).

Pilot who thought Dublin was really LA 

It will be 20 years on December 14 since the death of aviator Douglas Corrigan, who will be known forever more as the pilot who turned east instead of west and flew across the Atlantic by mistake.

Wrongway Corrigan touched down in Dublin in July 17, 1938 thinking he was really in Los Angeles on a solo flight in his ramshackle plane.

Doug passed away in Orange, California in 1995 at 88.

It all began in Brooklyn when Wrongway, aged 31, took off at dawn that morning in 1938 and was swept away eastwards in his jerry-built, second-hand aircraft and arrived at Baldonnel Airport, Dublin, 28 hours and 13 minutes later without a clue that he had crossed the ocean.

Corrigan blamed it all on a faulty compass but aviation authorities revealed he had been banned from making such a flight because his monoplane was unworthy.

Unsportingly, this pilot’s licence was suspended and he had to return to New York by ship.

Belfast Telegraph

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