Today is an important date in the history of the Second World War. Seventy-five years ago, on this day in 1942, the first U.S. troops docked in Belfast, Northern Ireland to join their allies fighting in the European theatre of the war. This was the beginning of their active participation in the war and it was a turning point in the conflict for their beleaguered allies.
Since the books in my series, The Yankee Years, focus on a lesser-known aspect of the war, the part Northern Ireland played in the Allies’ war effort, this anniversary is of particular interest and significance to me. As well as being a welcome addition to the allied forces’ war effort, the Americans had quite an impact on their host country, Northern Ireland, while they were stationed here and for many years afterwards. Quiet, rural communities would never be the same again after the American troops came to their towns and villages and the American military personnel who served in these places often made lasting friendships and more with local residents.
In a blog post last year, on this date, I had a look back at the day of the American troops’ arrival in Northern Ireland and Private First Class Millburn Henke of the First Battalion, 133rdInfantry Regiment, 34th Infantry Division who officially represented the troops as he was welcomed ashore. If you’d like to read it, you’ll find the post here.