There were 300,000 US service men and women in Northern Ireland between 1942 and 1944. These American forces came to Northern Ireland in two phases. The first was in January 1942, eight weeks after the United States declared war on Germany and Japan following the attack on Pearl Harbour. The second phase came a year later in 1943.
The three cloth insignia illustrated here are currently on display in the gallery of the Northern Ireland War Memorial. They were worn on the shoulder sleeves of the US army uniforms when the forces were stationed in Northern Ireland. Various types of insignia were used to identity the headquarters to which a soldier was assigned.
The top image depicts the badge worn by the 34th infantry Division which was nicknamed ‘Red Bull’. This division was based at Omagh and along with one armoured division, the 34th infantry made up the V Corps.
The middle badge belonged to the US Army Air Force who were based at Langford Lodge, an airfield on the shores of Lough Neagh. It was here that Flying Fortresses, which had been flown across the Atlantic, were fitted out for operations by personnel of the Lockheed Overseas Corporation. Five other newly built airfields in Northern Ireland were used to train replacements for men lost in air attacks over occupied Europe.
The bottom badge represented the 82nd airborne division. This particular division had already seen action in Italy before coming to be based in Derry and Tyrone.
The Northern Ireland War Memorial aims to mark the enduring friendship cemented between the American service men and women and the Ulster people during the Second World War.
Come along to the gallery to see all our related materials on display or to share any memories or stories you might have about the presence of US Forces in Northern Ireland!