Happy St. Patrick's Day|
Often, the first sight that GIs saw when sailing for Europe in 1942-45 was Ireland. After five or six days on the often stormy North Atlantic, avoiding German submarines, the gray sea would calm and in the distance, perhaps, they'd spy the green cliffs of Moher (photo at left). Their ship, many times the RMS Queen Mary, would turn northeast into the North Channel for the final leg of their journey to the ETO, heading into the Irish Sea bound for Gourock, Scotland, or Liverpool. In 1942, the first Americans in the ETO (click for photos) were stationed in Northern Ireland (click for more information). While the Irish Republic was neutral throughout the war, Northern Ireland (click for artwork) became an important Allied sea and air base. In the photo below (courtesy National Archives and Records Administration), Negro soldiers draw rations at the camp cook-house at their station in Northern Ireland. Detachments of Negro troops were among the first arrivals with the American forces in Northern Ireland. Later, thousands of applicants from the 1st Armored Division and the 34th Infantry Division and other units in Northern Ireland were interviewed by William O. Darby and his hand-picked officers, and after a strenuous weeding-out program at Carrickfergus (the song playing is Carrickfergus), the 1st Ranger Battalion (click for information) was officially activated there on June 19, 1942.
In the photo above, American soldiers and Irish girls have a friendly chat during a St. Patricks Day Dance and Celebration, March 17, 1942. Left to right: Pvt. Bernard Brilliant; Cpl. May Officer; Pvt. Catherine McCloskey; Pvt. John Battafarano; Pvt. Raymond Evans; Pvt. Doris Evane; Pvt. Henriette Officer; and Pvt. Henry Kacvinsky. For more information on the Americans in Northern Ireland during the war, visit the following pages:
Below are three pieces of "Irish cheesecake" Carole Landis in a promotional photo for St. Patrick's Day 1944 in which she's posing with a Victory "Vee" made from shamrocks; Maureen O'Hara, star of wartime hits like How Green Was My Valley, To the Shores of Tripoli, and The Immortal Sergeant; and June Haver, who along with Betty Grable &151; starred in The Dolly Sisters.