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Landing of US troops commemorated, 1943 (Northern Ireland)

Click on the MEDIA ITEMS below for more information




Governor Performs Historic Ceremony

TEN thousand people yesterday witnessed the unveiling of the column which has been erected at the front entrance of Belfast City Hall to commemorate the landing of the first American Expeditionary Force in Northern Ireland a year ago.

The ceremony was performed by his Grace the Governor, who was accompanied by the Duchess of Abercorn.

Mr. Roosevelt sent a special message, which was read by Major General R. F. Hartle, Deputy Commander of the U.S. Forces in Europe. The text is given in a panel below.

It was a historic scene, etched in colour. Bordering the broad sweep of the driveway were members of the British and American Corps of Military Police, with here and there representatives of the A.T.S. Police. In front of the Queen Victoria statue an American colour party stood beside a flagstaff, ready to hoist the Stars and Stripes, while beside them were members of the City Council in their scarlet robes. On the other side of the drive were members of the Cabinet. M.P.s and Senators.

Flags of Allies

Flags of the Allied Nations floated from the City Hall and other buildings, and across the square in Donegal Place the massed bands of the Royal Ulster Rifles and the Royal Irish Fusiliers were stationed.

Troops with fixed bayonets glinting in the light and members of the U.S. and other British Services lined the square.

The tops of air raid shelters provided a grand-stand view for hundreds. Crowds filled Donegal Square and Donegal Place, and sandwiched between civilian men and women in uniform were many men in American Forces straining with the rest to catch a glimpse of their own and the Allied Services.

With the Governor

The Governor, who was attended by Commander Oscar Henderson, was accompanied on a dais by the Lord Mayor, the Prime Minister, Sir Thomas Dixon, Bt., H.M.L.; Sir James Grigg, Secretary of State for War; Major-General R. P. Hartle; Rear-Admiral R. H. L. Bevan, Senior Naval Officer. Northern Ireland; Air Vice-Marshal A. T. Cole, Air Officer Commanding R.A.F., Northern Ireland, and Lt. General H. E. Franklyn, G.O.C. British Troops in Northern Ireland.

The stone, a simple column about six feet high, stands midway in the entrance to the City Hall grounds. States Army, Marine Corps, and Navy, surmounting the words, “Second World War," and the inscription, "First U.S.A.E.F. landed in this City, January 26, 1942."

Star Spangled Banner

As the Governor stepped forward to unveil the column the massed bands played the "Star Spangled Banner," while in the background Master Sergeant Milo Heinz, of Ottumwa, Iowa, and Sergeant Joseph P. Durkin, South Bend, Indiana, raised the Stars and Stripes slowly to the masthead. Other members of the U.S. Colour party were Master Sergeant Lynn Phillips, of Linnens, Montana, and Staff Sergeant Carroll Kopfer, of Unionville, Indiana.

The Governor said—" To commemorate the arrival of the first contingent of our friends and Allies, the American Army, whom we warmly welcomed, I unveil this stone.”


MR. ROOSEVELT'S MESSAGE "Road to Berlin Sure"

Following is the text of Mr. Roosevelt's message:—

" One year ago the first great convoy of American troops to cross the Atlantic in this war landed in Northern Ireland. They came to buttress the grim defence of a besieged fortress of freedom.

"Things have changed greatly in these twelve months. We think no longer of defence—that is past. Now and hence forward we think of attack; determined, unrelenting, smashing attack.

“ Our troops and those of the United Kingdom, of Canada and of the other Dominions and Allies have chafed at inaction. They will get action. The road to Berlin is long and hard, but it is very sure.—Franklin D. Roosevelt."



Citizens Proud to Welcome Forces

The Lord Mayor (Sir Crawford M'Cullagh, Bt.) spoke of the pride which the citizens felt at the fact that the first American Expeditionary Force should have landed in the city. "We were glad to do what we could to make them feel at home in our midst," he added, "and we hope the friendships made here will strengthen the happy relations between our two great nations."

Mr. J. M. Andrews, the Prime Minister, said that the arrival of U.S. Force in Belfast signified the determination of the English speaking peoples, with the other United Nations, to free the world from the tyranny of aggressive and brutal foes.

" Between our visitors and ourselves the happiest relationship exists. Our aim has been to make all ranks feel at home, even though they are thousands of miles away from their own land and their dear ones. It is the earnest wish of the people of Ulster that this happy union in war should continue in the days of peace, so that our two nations may face world problems together, knowing that on their solution the freedom, security and progress of all humanity depend."

" Ulster people," he said, "were proud to know that the Province's part in the struggle was fully recognised by their inspiring leader, Mr. Churchill, a man of marvellous courage, and by his Cabinet colleagues. Ulster's man-power, industries, agricultural resources were all being devoted to the common cause. In every aspect of their war effort Ulster people were simply trying to do their duty as citizens of the United Kingdom and as sons and daughters of the Empire.”

Secretary for War

Sir James Grigg, Secretary State for War, said that in 1917 British forces in Flanders had been thankful to know that an army from the United States had stepped forward to fill a gap in the war weary and hard-pressed Allied battle line. "But in 1942, hard pressed though we were, we had asked help of no man: we had shown ourselves prepared to defend Britain and the British Empire though we stood alone in the world. It was not to defend Britain and the British Empire that the soldiers of the United States landed in Ireland. The American citizen had forsake the normal tenor of his life, and had taken up arms to fight for America, for American liberty and American ideals.

"Our men fight for British liberties and British ideals. But the important thing is that your ideals are ultimately much the same as ours, that your liberty is ours, though wearing perhaps a different face, are at heart one. We—and I speak for the British Army — welcome the American troops here because we want to have in them something more than war-time allies; we must be, in the fullest sense of the words, comrades in arms, and for that a mutual understanding is essential."

No Contradictions

The Americans' stay in Northern Ireland had been the best possible prelude, not only to the active struggle against Germany and Japan and their jackals, but to the difficult times when the struggle had been brought to victorious end. By means of it, the fighting men of the two nations had learned to know one another. To some Americans the word Empire sounded like the direct opposite of liberty; but between liberty and Empire, as the British understood it, there was no contradiction.

"I have served for five years of my life in India, and I can assert from actual knowledge how little the desire of domination or exploitation governs our attitude toward India. I can testify how devotedly large numbers of my country men have laboured in the interests of that vast sub-continent and how unremitting have been the effort to bring it peacefully, unitedly and fully into fellowship with the great self-governing units of our Commonwealth.

"Moreover, those of your countrymen who have sojourned here in Northern Ireland have only had to turn their eyes Southward to discern how little of coercion and tyranny there is in our relations with the Commonwealth." Britain and America might use words in different senses, Sir James emphasised, but they valued the same things. Thus the stone commemorated something more than a visit paid; it commemorated an event whereby British and American fighting men were able to realise that they had indeed a common cause, a common faith They would, both of them, fight side by side the better for the knowledge of each other that they had gained in loyal Belfast.

The Atlantic Bridge

Major General R. P. Hartle thanking his Grace for having unveiled the stone, said that since the first landing much had been written upon the history of America's war effort. Thousands of American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of tons of American sinews of war had crossed the North Atlantic. That they had come in such numbers and such quantities was a tribute to the Navies and Air Forces of the two nations. The Navies had virtually built a bridge across one of the most difficult oceans in the world, and it was anticipated that that bridge would continue to function, despite the tenacity of the enemy submarines.

After referring to the friendship between British and U.S. troops. General Hartle pointed out that the prime purpose of winning the war was vital. It seemed to him that the establishment of amiable relationship and utmost appreciation of each other was also of vast importance.

" It is not enough to win the war. We also have to win the peace, we of the United Nations. We must make a world for all peoples to live in the Four Freedoms of the Atlantic Charter— and this will not be easy, once the guns have ceased firing. There will be many pitfalls, and one of the greatest strengths we will then have will be the solid friendship of the American and British people who got to know one another during the hardships of war."

General Hartle reiterated his sincere thanks and lasting gratitude to the Government and citizens of " this hospitable country " and to the troops of the British Services stationed in Ulster for their productive efforts to make the American Forces welcome and comfortable. " When the war is over, may America have the opportunity to reciprocate in part at least your constant thoughtfulness," he added.


British and U.S. Forces Represented

After the unveiling the Governor took the salute at a march-past of the various Services. The parade was led by a detachment of American troops, distinctive in rimless steel helmets and bright hogskin gloves. A smart contingent of American Army nurses followed the khaki with a patch of blue, and followed in turn by the American Marines in their near-green uniforms, the American Navy men in their woollen caps and with helmets swinging at their waists, and the grey-clad members of the American Red Cross.

There was a special cheer as the men of the Royal Navy swung into view with bayonets gleaming. Next came the W.R.N.S., looking particularly sprightly in their new-style caps and chin-straps. A large detachment of the East Surrey Regiment was followed by the glistening Red Caps of the Corps of Military Police. Women spectators surged forward as a group representing one of the latest Army innovations came abreast—the girl policewomen also in their red covered peaked caps. The A.T.S. marched with striking precision, and the yellow gauntlets of the transport group swinging like pendulums emphasised the rhythm of their movement.

Home Guard

Next to the Navy in popular favour were the men in Air Force blue, members of the R.A.F. Regiment, born of the modern need for aerodrome defence. The W.A.A.F. followed—one of them chewing gum, perhaps as an appropriate recognition of the American compliment intended by the ceremony. The Ulster Home Guard detachment, which came last, was by no means least in the esteem of spectators, and as these soldier civilians marched past with the steady tread of veterans, there were from the crowd many exclamations of proud recognition of its individual members.

By now means least whole-hearted in their appreciation of the spectacle were the many American soldiers standing among the spectators.


Belfast News-letter

Used with permission.


Collection Location:
Western Maryland Room, Washington County Free Library

United States. Army, Biography; World War, 1939-1945, United States; Hartle, Russell P.

Western Maryland Regional Library
100 South Potomac Street
Hagerstown, Maryland 21740

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