World War II Anglo-American Alliance: Americans Arrive in Ulster (January 1942)


Figure 1.--Here the first American GIs to arrive in Britain are greeted by the women and children of Belfast. Notice the gas masks. GIs in World war I were deployed to France, relatively few were stantioned in Britain. With France occupied the GIs were deployed to Britain. It was a huge shot in the arm for the British who for a year stood against Hitler's legions with just the Dominions with them. The caption to this wire service photo read, "Women and Children in port 'somewhere in Northern Ireland greet troops of the American Expeditionary Force, on its arrival." The term American Expeditionary Force was a Wirld war I term and was soom discarded, in part because Americans were deployed in so many places round the world. The primary deployment, from the begoinning, however was the British Isles and the main goal wa a cross-Channel invasion to liberate France.

The first Americans units left New York for Belfast (January 6, 1942) only 1 moth after Pearl Harbor. As in World war I, the 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.









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Created: 5:11 PM 7/17/2012
Last updated: 5:11 PM 7/17/2012