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US Memorial Day

US Memorial Day

Yesterday (25th May) marked Memorial Day in the US, which seeks to commemorate all those men and women who have died in military service for the United States. The value of America’s help during the Second World War cannot be overstated, whether through lend-lease or direct support from 1942 onwards. Indeed, many of those US soldiers who unfortunately died, spent time in Northern Ireland during the war with over 150,000 US military personnel stationed here over the course of the war.

While stationed here there were 148 American military personnel who died and were subsequently buried in the Castlereagh Hills at the Lisnabreeny American Military Cemetery. Their causes of death ranged from aviation/road traffic accidents to training causalities and indeed 148 men were buried there before being exhumed and repatriated in 1948.

One of our Oral History interviewees, Pat Archer (W&M48) lived near Lisnabreeny and was aged 6 in 1948, she remembers the day that these soldiers were being exhumed. ‘I was quite small but I distinctly remember walking with my mother… there was a whole lot of things in the graveyard, I can even visualise it now, so I says… “What’s happening? What are all the people doing in there?” She said to me, “They are actually digging up the graves and returning the bodies to America’, you can appreciate that as a child I kind of went “Oh!”… But my mother being the very wise woman that she was, I can remember her saying to me “If you were dead in another country, I would want to have you home”.

Now, although the bodies of those who died have been returned to America long ago, a stone obelisk inscribed with the names of the 140 identified US soldiers, two stone benches and flagstaff stand marking the site. So today, perhaps take a moment to remember those 148 US soldiers who died in Northern Ireland, as well as the countless others who briefly stayed here over the course of the war before being sent on to Europe and other theatres of war.

If you or your loved one have memories of the Second World War in Northern Ireland that you would like to share, please get in touch with us at projects@niwarmemorial.org or on 07588 634847.

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American Red Cross Founder’s Day

American Red Cross Founder’s Day

Today is American Red Cross Founder’s Day in the United States.

During the Second World War American Red Cross (ARC) Clubs were established all over Northern Ireland. By 1943, when American forces in the country were reaching their peak, ARC Clubs were even in towns as small as Warrenpoint and Castledawson.

The two largest clubs were housed in the Northern Counties Hotel on Waterloo Place in Londonderry and the Plaza Ballroom on Chicester Street in Belfast (Pictured – NIWM:2019:2539).

NIWM:2019:2539

In fact, the ARC club in Derry was the first to open in Europe during the Second World War.

ARC Clubs helped prevent boredom amongst the US troops by providing leisure and recreational facilities.

Racial segregation has been well documented in the US forces during the Second World War and the ARC Clubs were no different. In Belfast, separate clubs have been recorded as being ‘white staffed’ and ‘negro staffed’.

These clubs were often also segregated by rank. Despite being a small town, Portrush had two ARC Clubs, the West Bay View Hotel hosted the officers club and the Eglinton Hotel hosted the enlisted men.

Our oral history project has recorded several stories about American Red Cross dances and excursions. Sadie Lineker (b. 1924) participated in the US75 oral history project and shared her memories of the Belfast ARC Club.

Sadie Lineker (US75)

Sadie was working in the Food Office when she heard that they were seeking volunteers to come to the American Red Cross Club to dance.

‘… I put my name down and they sent someone to vet us and get permission from my parents to go… I don’t know why we needed to be vetted, perhaps to weed out the ones who talked to much!’

At those dances she got to know a few American soldiers and went on to explain that they went on trips and excursions organised by the ARC.

‘We went to the Mourne Mountains and stately homes… we went on a picnic, the boys brought sandwiches with peanut butter and jelly. We couldn’t figure it out, they asked “did we like peanut butter and jelly?”, and we were all “how did they get jelly into a sandwich”… so all the girls said “oh we’ll have jelly” to see what it was and it was jam… we all loved the peanut butter too, we thought it strange but we got used to it’… ‘I learned to jive, then at one of the last dances Glenn Miller came on with his band… everybody crowded around the stage… and we were dancing around the back of the crowd’.

Do you or a loved one have memories of an American Red Cross Service Club in Northern Ireland? If you would like to share your story please get in touch with our Oral History Coordinator at projects@niwarmemorial.org or on 07588 634847.

#AmericanRedCrossFoundersDay #americanredcross #ARC #Belfast #GIBrides #SecondWorldWar #Glenn Miller

 

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#NationalDrawingDay – NIWM Competition

#NationalDrawingDay – NIWM Competition

It’s #NationalDrawingDay!

As we spend the day at home with our families, we wanted to bring the joy of drawing to you as we ‘Go Big & Stay Home’ this Drawing Day. We hope these activities encourage you to explore your creativity and individuality.

We are excited to start the day, with not ONE but TWO competitions!

Competition ONE: Poster Making Competition

Head to our YouTube Channel and watch our ‘How to make your own Dig for Victory Poster’ video with local artist Hannah Ferguson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tw3uerR_2EA&t=31s. Use the skills you learn in the video to make your own poster and share a photograph of your finished piece with us for a chance at winning a prize.

Competition TWO: Colouring Competition

Visit our website and download one of our Colouring Pages. Get colouring and share a photograph of your finished piece with us for a chance at winning a prize.

The best Dig for Victory Poster and NIWM Colouring-in will win a year’s worth of confectionery, based on Second World War rations of 2 oz. per week (6 lb. 8 oz.).

Both competitions are open to children up to the age of 12 years old.

To enter, you can:

  • Post a picture in the comment section of the original competition post
  • Tag us using @NIWarMemorialMuseum on Facebook or @niwarmemorial on Instagram
  • Or email us at: info@niwarmemorial.org

Please include your name and age.

The terms and conditions can be found below.

The closing date for entries is 12pm on Saturday 23rd March and the winners will be announced later that afternoon.

Good Luck – We can’t wait to see your wonderful artwork!

Terms and Conditions:

By entering, participants will be deemed to have accepted the Terms and Conditions set out by the Northern Ireland War Memorial Museum.

The competition mentioned above is run solely by the Northern Ireland War Memorial Museum. The competition is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by or associated with Facebook or Instagram.

  • The competition is open to children up to the age of 12 years old.
  • The prize is a year’s worth of confectionery, based on Second World War rations of 2 oz. per week. This equals 6 lb. 8 oz. of confectionery in total.
  • The winner of each competition will be announced on Facebook and Instagram on Saturday 23rd May 2020.
  • By entering this competition we assume your permission for us to share the photograph of your artwork online to promote the project.
  • The winner will be consulted on their choice of sweets.
  • The Northern Ireland War Memorial Museum will contact the winners to arrange postage of the prize in the week commencing 25th May 2020.
  • To enter, participants need to comment underneath the original competition post, tag the Northern Ireland War Memorial online on either Facebook or Instagram or email info@niwarmemorial.org with a picture of their artwork. They may also watch the ‘How to make a Dig for Victory Poster’ video and download learning resources from www.niwarmemorial.org.
  • The competition will run (“Start and End”) from Saturday 16th May 2020 (“Start Date”) to 12pm on Saturday 23rd May 2020 (“Closing Date”).
  • If the winner does not respond by 10am on Saturday 30th May then the winner forfeits the right to claim the price and another winner may be drawn.
  • There are no alternatives to the stated prize.
  • The Northern Ireland War Memorial reserves the right to amend, alter or terminate this competition at any time due to circumstances beyond its control.
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#TogetherMW – Museum Week 2020

#TogetherMW – Museum Week 2020

A recurring theme in our oral history collection is that of togetherness. During the Second World War, and today throughout the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to stay together, even though we must remain apart.

One way we can feel like we are together is by sharing stories. Our collection is full of stories of bravery and resilience. During the Second World War, many brave Northern Irish men and women served overseas. Bill Eames (W&M28) served in the RAF and flew on D-Day and at the Battle of Arnhem.

Bill Eames (W&M28)

On the third day of the battle he recalled ‘it was a very bad day for the aircrew because the ground troops were in trouble by that point and our operation was to resupply them. A large number, we just flew in, one after the other to drop our supplies from 600ft and that is very low but as it so happened, we were briefed exactly where to put our supplies down and we did. Actually the only thing was that on either side of our dropping zone there were two German Panzer divisions and they simply shot us up very badly and many of our aircraft were just shot down. Generally, they were climbing away from the drop and I was hit, I was rather badly hit, my leg and my arm… but we were able to… I decided I wasn’t going climb up, you know I could see these others being shot down because they’d be told to, so I just turned left at low-level and got off towards home if you like.’

Fortunately, Bill’s Navigator, Bill Hudson of Irvinestown was able to help…, ‘he bandaged me up and got a tourniquet on my arm and a tourniquet on my leg and that sort of thing and in the mean time I was able to fly it back… I was still able to land the aircraft but then after that they put me in an ambulance and took me to the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford’.

For his achievement Bill was mentioned in despatches, he recovered in hospital but due to his hand and leg injuries, he was only able to be a co-pilot for the rest of the war. After the war he worked in Air Traffic Control both in England and Northern Ireland, became a proud member of the Ulster Flying Club and upon his retirement became Chief Flying Instructor at Newtownards airfield.

Perhaps you have been making supply drops to your elderly neighbour, vulnerable friend or loved ones during this pandemic. While you weren’t under the threat of Panzer tanks during your journey, it is important that we appreciate the little things that many people have been doing to bring us all closer together. It is the everyday heroes who work across the many vital sectors that keep society going, keeping us all connected while we stay at home. We would like to thank them all for keeping us #togetherMW.

If you have a Second World War story to share, or would like to hear more about the stories from our oral history collection, please get in touch with us at projects@niwarmemorial.org or on 07588 634847.

#NIWM #niwarmemorial #MuseumWeek #TheWarandMe

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National Drawing Day 2020

National Drawing Day 2020

National Drawing Day encourages people to get drawing, and for the very first time, it is taking place in people’s homes.

This Saturday, we will be asking you to ‘Go big and stay home’ while we will bring the joy of drawing to you.

On Saturday 16th May at 2.30pm, artist Hannah Ferguson will take over our Facebook Live to create a study of objects from our museum collection in 30 minutes. The focus will be on colour, texture, and the joy of drawing. Tune in and perhaps you will be inspired to lift a paintbrush or a pencil and draw a selection of museum worthy objects from your home?

We will also be launching a drawing competition for kids. The winner will receive a years’ worth of confectionery, based on Second World War rations of 2 oz. per week (6 lb. 8 oz.) Further details coming soon.

#NationalDrawingDay #drawingday2020

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How was VE Day celebrated in Northern Ireland?

How was VE Day celebrated in Northern Ireland?

To celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE Day we have put together a short video using clips from our oral history projects to show you how the day was marked across Northern Ireland.

How was VE Day celebrated in Northern Ireland?

They celebrated as only the Northern Irish know how from fancy dress parties in Derry/Londonderry, bonfires in many villages and towns, dancing in Belfast and lots of kissing if the stories are to be believed!

We invite you to listen to how our interviewees remember VE Day and if you have any memories or VE Day stories feel free to comment and share them with us.

We have postponed all oral history interviews until further notice, but you can still share your story with us. We welcome written accounts and we can arrange virtual interviews via Skype, Zoom etc.

If you or someone you know would like to share their story, please get in touch with our The War and Me Oral History Project Coordinator, Michael Burns on 07588634847 or email projects@niwarmemorial.org.

#VEDay75 #VEDay2020 #VEDayAtHome #NIWM #niwarmemorial

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VE Day Remembered with Music and Memories

VE Day Remembered with Music and Memories

VE Day Remembered with Music and Memories

Today on the 75th anniversary of VE Day 2020, we are pleased to launch this short film we have created using a selection of spoken memories of VE Day in 1945, which we collected through our ongoing ‘The War and Me’ Oral History Project.

These important stories are complemented by wartime songs performed by Karen Diamond and Belfast Telegraph images of VE Day.

We encourage you to listen to the stories and sing along to the songs from the 1940s using the lyrics on screen while commemorating this anniversary at home with your families.

#VEDay75 #VEDay2020 #VEDayAtHome #NIWM #niwarmemorial

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VE Day 75 – Mystery Sailor

VE Day 75 – Mystery Sailor

As today is the anniversary VE Day, many of you have probably seen this Belfast Telegraph photo of a sailor leading a musical procession in front of Belfast City Hall on the 8th May 1945.

Sailor leading a musical procession in front of Belfast City Hall on VE Day, 8th May 1945.(Photograph courtesy of Belfast Telegraph)

But did you know that in 1965, on the 20th anniversary of VE Day, the paper launched an appeal to find out the identity of the mystery sailor!

Appeal to find out the identity of the Sailor – Belfast Telegraph

Joe Carlin, a Leading Stoker, of Legnavea Street, Belfast was suggested. After the war he worked in McKinney & Sons and then Mackie’s but by 1965 he had moved to America.

Another reader wrote in to say that he had served with the man on a tanker called Doneaux and that although he couldn’t remember his last name, he was called George and was from Brighton. They had been separated after their ship was torpedoed in the Atlantic and he heard from another survivor two years later that George was also rescued.

Despite readers coming forward with names and theories, the identity of the sailor still remains a mystery!

This is where we want your help.

We want to renew the appeal and try to identify the mystery sailor in the photo below.

So please share and do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any potential leads or further information.

#VEDay75 #VEDay2020 #VEDayAtHome #NIWM #niwarmemorial

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VE Day 75

VE Day 75

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the end of the war in Europe.

Hostilities in Europe had officially ended at one minute past midnight and the news was welcomed with impromptu marches late into the night. The next day, 8th May 1945 was designated as Victory in Europe Day, or VE Day for short.

Pictured below is the front page of the Northern Whig headlined ‘VICTORY’ alongside images of Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill (NIWM Collection – NIWM:2020.2576)

Front page of the Northern Whig headlined ‘VICTORY’ alongside images of Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill (NIWM Collection – NIWM:2020.2576)

At 3pm Churchill’s speech was played through loudspeakers to the crowds gathered around Belfast City Hall (pictured courtesy of Belfast Telegraph) and was greeted by the ringing of church bells, factory horns and ship sirens.

Crowds at Belfast City Hall (Photograph courtesy of Belfast Telegraph)

Parties, decorated with the flags of the major Allied Nations such as Russia, the USA, France and the UK, were held in streets and places of work to celebrate victory and peace. Pictured below are those at the switch room in Telephone House, Medway St, Glenwood St, North Boundary St, and Foundry St (all Belfast Telegraph photos)

These parties again lasted long into the night. Below is a photo of children dancing around a bonfire in the early hours of the morning of the 9th May at Woodvale Gardens (Belfast Telegraph).

Children dancing around a bonfire in the early hours of the morning of the 9th May – Woodvale Gardens (Photograph courtesy of Belfast Telegraph)

Later today you’ll hear more about how VE Day was celebrated across the country from the participants of our oral history projects.

In short, the Guildhall in Derry was illuminated that night for the first time since September 1939 and large crowds gathered at Guildhall Square while a Salvation Army band lead a procession after playing a service at the Diamond.

Crowds gathered on High St Portadown (pictured courtesy of Craigavon Museum Services) and in Armagh the band of the Royal Irish Fusiliers played on the Mall.

Crowds gathered on High Street, Portadown (Photograph courtesy of Craigavon Museum Services)

In Bangor crowds gathered on the sea front around the McKee clock whilst an effigy of Hitler hung from the gallows atop an air raid shelter on Main St.

And in Omagh, people thronged the streets to witness a parade, led by the band of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and Royal Ulster Rifles, of more than 2,000 soldiers.

Whilst the celebrations were overwhelmingly jubilant, many people’s thoughts turned to those still serving in the Far East against Japan and thanksgiving services were held in memory of those who did not return. Again, pictured below is an image of soldiers at prayer on VE Day at Belfast Cathedral.

Soldiers at prayer on VE Day at Belfast Cathedral

In the back of many minds was the uncertainty of what was to come next. The war had brought a relative sense of prosperity but unemployment was already on the rise.

Although the Covid-19 pandemic has limited the scale of events, there are still nationwide events going ahead that you can get involved with;

11:00 Two minutes silence

15:00 BBC broadcast of Churchill’s speech

21:00 The Queen will address the nation, just as her father did 75 years ago. This is followed by a UK wide singalong to Vera Lynn’s We’ll Meet Again

Over the last week or so we have been sharing resources that can help you to celebrate the occasion at home. These can be found on our website at http://www.niwarmemorial.org/learning-resources/ and throughout the day we will continue to post further resources as well as memories of this day, 75 years ago.

#VEDay75 #VEDay2020 #VEDayAtHome #NIWM #niwarmemorial

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Go Big & Stay Home for #NationalDrawingDay

Facebook Live takeover by artist Hannah Ferguson who will create a study of objects from the museum

At 2.30pm on Saturday 16th May, artist Hannah Ferguson will take over our Facebook Live to create a study of objects from the museum.

Hannah working in her studio at home

Join Hannah as she creates a colourful piece of art in 30 minutes, focusing on composition, colour and texture. Perhaps you’ll be inspired to lift a paintbrush or a pencil and draw a selection of museum worthy objects from your  home.

We will also be launching a drawing competition for kids. The winner will receive a years worth of confectionery, based on Second World War rations of 2 oz. per week (6 lb. 8 oz.)

#nationaldrawingday

Go Big & Stay Home for National Drawing Day
Go Big & Stay Home for National Drawing Day

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