World War II: The Anglo-American Alliance--Ulster


Figure 1.--Here we see Ulster boys checking out one of the recently arrived American soldiers (February 25, 1942). Americans were posted to Ulster to free up British soldiers for service elsewhere. Notice that two of the boys are barefoot in the middle of Winter. Source: World Wide Photos.

President Roosevelt had committed the U.S. to a shooting war in the North Atlantic by fall 1941. It was the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, however, that finally brought America into the War (December 7, 1941). The Allies had already decided that defeating NAZI Germany would be the primary objective. Within a few weeks after the Japanese attack, the first of what would become a flood of American troops into Britain was underway. Even before this the Americans and British had been discussing the formation of the Vth U.S Army Corps at bases in Ulster (Northern Ireland) and Scotland. Roosevelt and Churchill decided that U.S troops would take over the defence of Ulster which would free up British soldiers for deployment elsewherein other locations. Ulster was important because it provided air bases and sea bases to support the Atlantic convoys. It also provided staging and training areas for American army units. The first Americans units left New York for Belfast (January 6, 1942). The first American landed at Belfast (January 26, 1942). He became something of a celeberty. Ironically that soldier was Milburn Henke, a naturalised citizen of German ancestry. Military facilities did not exist to accomodate the number of Americans who were arriving and the operations they would undertake. The Americans set about construct 26 new airfields and improving naval dock facilities at Derry. These facilities would play an important role in the critical Battle of the Atlantic, vital to ensure that Britain';s new American ally could project its power to Britain and beyond.

Pearl Harbor (December 1941)

President Roosevelt had committed the U.S. to a shooting war in the North Atlantic by fall 1941. It was the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, however, that finally brought America into the War (December 7, 1941). America had been a deeply divided nation, but the character of the Japanese attack changed that. Most Americans had never heard of Pear Harbor. Sudently the youngest school child knew about it. For a few days America was at war with Japan and not Germany. This posed a problem for President Roosevelt. Adolf Hitler solved the problem by declaring war on the United States (December 11, 1941). This meant the new Allies could proceeded with their already agreed policy of concentrating their resources on defeating NAZI Germany.

Ulster and Scotland

The Allies had already decided that defeating NAZI Germany would be the primary objective. Within a few weeks after the Japanese attack, the first of what would become a flood of American troops into Britain was underway. Even before this the Americans and British had been discussing the formation of the Vth U.S Army Corps at bases in Ulster (Northern Ireland) and Scotland. Roosevelt and Churchill decided that U.S troops would take over the defence of Ulster which would free up British soldiers for deployment elsewherein other locations. Britisdh forces at the time were hard pressed, both in Southeast Asia and in North Africa. Ulster was important because it provided air bases and sea bases to support the Atlantic convoys. It also provided staging and training areas for American army units.

Americans Begin Arriving (January 1942)

The first Americans units left New York for Belfast (January 6, 1942). As in World war I, gthe U-boats proved unable to stop the fast moving troopships. The first American landed at Belfast (January 26, 1942). He became something of a celeberty. The emergency had past. The RAF had defeated the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Bfitain and British forces along the Channel were fully capable of stopping a German invasion. And the Germans for their part had been stoppedin the Soviet Union by a Red Army offensive before Moscow. The arrival of the Americans, however, was a strong statement both to the British and the the occupied people of Western Europe. Supplies were one thing, but men as something very different. Americ with its vast resources was full in--and both Roosevelt and Churchill greed tht the Hitler and the NAZIs was thrir priority tatget. The British and Dominions had been fighging the Germans alone for a a year. And now not only were te Sovirts fighting the Germans, but now the Americanbs had arrived. It was a huge shor in the arm to British morale. And the people of occupied Europe learned about it over the BBC. Adult Europeans including the Germans knew what the arrival of the Americabs had meant in World War I. The Anglo-American alliance had been forged by President Roosevelt and POrimeminister Churchill before America entered the War. At first Amrricans supplies and equipment arrived. Now it was American servicemen. Ironically the first GI to step off the troopship was Milburn Henke, a naturalised citizen of German ancestry. The first few divisions had arrived in the Britain (late-spring 1942). Ulster was just the beginning. By the end of the war there were Americans from Scotalm\nd to Corwall and more alng with vast quantities of supplies nbd equipment were arriving each month. Belfast was chosen for the First Americans as it allowed the British to repisition forces in Ulster. Troops continued arriving for the nearly 3 years. Latter transports landed in England, many at Liverpool. There were all kinnds of logistical problems accomodating the huge number of Americans who were arriving.

American Experiencces

The Americans didn't care much for the weather. It was cold and rainy. Homes did not have central heating. There were limited facilities likes movie theaters and clubs. The local authorities tried to make the americans welcomed. Local groups arranged fir entertainment. Individuals invited the GI's to their himes.

Bases and Facilities

Military facilities did not exist to accomodate the number of Americans who were arriving and the operations they would undertake. The Americans were stationed at bases throughout Ulster. These used some existing facilities, but mostly built new facilities. The Americans set about constructing 26 new airfields and improving naval dock facilities at Derry. These facilities would play an important role in the critical Battle of the Atlantic, vital to ensure that Britain's new American ally could project its power to Britain and beyond.

U.S. Navy (February 1941- July 1944)

The U.S. Navy began to arrive in Ulster even before Pearl Harbor. The Navy took over the naval facilities at Derry and were primarily concerned with protecting Atlantic convoys.

U.S. Army (January 1942-June 1944)

The Army arrived in two waves. The first soldiers began to arrive (January 1942). They were based at Castleerllan, Lurgan, and Omagh and trained for the North African Invastion (Operation Torch). They departed (October 1942). The next group of American soldiers began arriving (October 1943). They were stationed at Armagh, Cookstown, Lurgan, Newcastle, Newry, amd Omagh. Thy trained for D-Day and depated (June 1944).

U.S. Army Air Forces (july 1942-May 1945)

The Army Air Force began arriving (July 1942). The main base was Langford Lodge. The bases in Ulster were importabt because they were largely beyond the range of Luftwaffe bombers. The Americans took over RAF airfields at Aldergrove, Sydenham and Newtownards. They also built 26 new air fields. They were used for aircraft assembley, testing, servicing, and repairing damaged aircraft.








HBC









Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Return to Main Anglo-American Alliance page]
[Return to Main United Kingdom World War II page]
[Return to Main United States World War II page]
[Biographies] [Campaigns] [Children] [Countries] [Deciding factors] [Diplomacy] [Geo-political crisis] [Economics] [Home front] [Intelligence]
[Resistance] [Race] [Refugees] [Technology]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Return to Main World War II page]
[Return to Main war essay page]




Created: 4:38 AM 11/30/2006
Last updated: 4:42 PM 7/17/2012