Latest News

The Yanks Are Coming!

During 2022, I plan to share a few posts on my Facebook Page about what was happening in Northern Ireland 80 years ago, specifically in relation to the arrival of the US military.

#OTD1942

By way of background:

Plans had been developed as early as April 1941 for the United States of America to send troops to the UK, should the USA enter the Second World War.

In June of that year, 350 civilian workers from G.A. Fuller-Merritt Chapman Corporation (an American firm) arrived in Northern Ireland to begin building naval bases at Londonderry (Base No.1) for the refueling and repair of destroyers and submarines, and Lough Erne for PBY Catalina flying boats.

in July, members of the Special Observer Group made a first visit to Northern Ireland, looking at existing infrastructure and making recommendations about potential sites for US military sites. The Group submitted its first report in September, recommending that a depot be established at Langford Lodge to carry out maintenance repairs for American aircraft.

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, and the subsequent declaration of war on the USA by Germany a few days later, brought America into the war.

On 17 Dec, Major General James E. Chaney submitted a report on his review of the situation following American entry into the war, and specifically referenced a plan to send 33,421 American troops to Northern Ireland.

This cohort of troops will be designated by the codename MAGNET Force.

The friendly “invasion” of Northern Ireland is imminent!

Follow the Tour’s Facebook Page for regular updates on the 80th anniversary of key events.

Image: Washington County Free Library Photo WCRH018. Part of the General Russell P Hartle Collection. American troops from 34th Infantry Division en route to Northern Ireland on board the British troop ship HMTS Strathaid. Photo taken in February 1942. Copyright United States Signal Corps.

Tour content update

Well, Hello 2022!

As 2021 draws to a close, I would like to wish you all a Happy & Prosperous New Year.

Despite you-know-what, I had a pretty special year for my Tours. Despite not running any just-turn-up Tours (I decided the safest option was to ask all Tours to be pre-booked in advance) I still took more tours than I expected. There were a few notable ones too: the remarkable folk from the British Limbless Ex-Servicemen Association (BLESMA); the participants from the Men United project in Belfast; and those who joined me on the couple of Tours (in the pouring rain!) as part of the NI100 commemoration. Thank you to all who joined me.

Thanks

A special shout-out to the Northern Ireland Lottery Heritage Fund for their support this year. Their grant, as part of the COVID recovery project, helped me purchase more WW2-era memorabilia, upgrade my website and ensure my Tours were COVID safe.

Finally, I can’t miss out the fantastic help offered by Mid & East Antrim Council. In particular, the Tourism, Business Development and Museum ladies (they know who they are!). Their enthusiasm for what they do, and their regular check-ins to make sure I was getting every available help and encouragement, was invaluable during the pandemic.

Looking Ahead

I’m now looking forward to 2022. It will mark eighty years since the friendly “invasion” from across the Atlantic. The official arrival of military personnel from the United States changed the culture of Northern Ireland – music, food, fashion, and romance! I plan to organise a few special activities during the year to highlight the impact our American visitors had on the town.

This anniversary, however, does not mean I’ll be neglecting the core elements of my Tour. You will still find out about Air Raid Precautions; Rationing; the reconfiguration of Factories to make parachutes, tanks, life-jackets, uniforms and more; changes to the town’s infrastructure; the establishment of Army Camps; the creation of a Military Prison; the role of women volunteers; the local consequences of the Belfast Blitz; and, of course, the formation and onward journey of the US Rangers.

New Stuff

If you have any suggestions about topics you would like included in future Tours, or any comments in general, I’d be delighted to read them.

As well as Guided Walking Tours, I can also deliver talks to Groups, and set up a display of my WW2-era memorabilia. These talks can be adapted to suit your requirements, so the earlier you get in touch with me to discuss options the better.

Keeping in Touch

I’ll provide updates on events and activites throughout the year on the Tour’s Facebook page. I know Facebook has its own way of deciding what to put into your News Feed, so the only way to make sure you find out about what’s happening with my Tour is to make this page one of your favourites. This link may help you do that: https://m.facebook.com/help/371675846332829

So, onward to 2022, whatever that may bring.

The “We’re Good To Go” industry standard mark is a self-assessment scheme that has been designed by VisitEngland in partnership with the national tourist organisations Tourism Northern Ireland, VisitScotland and Visit Wales to provide a ‘ring of confidence’ for all sectors of the tourism industry, as well as reassurance to visitors that businesses have clear processes in place and are following industry and Government COVID-19 guidance on cleanliness and social distancing.
Tour Dates Update

IMPORTANT UPDATE

Revised route, new content, restricted group size.

As the Northern Ireland Executive announces amendments to the COVID-19 containment measures, I am continually revising the Tour to ensure Guests’ safety..

Consequently, I will be taking Guided Walking Tours of Carrickfergus, looking specifically at events here during the Second World War, on the following basis:

  • There will be no “just turn up” Tours – all places on the Tour must be pre-booked. Drop me an email (leadthewaytourcarrickfergus@gmail.com), give me a call/text (+44 7916780474), or send me a Facebook Message (https://www.facebook.com/leadthewaytour), and I’ll do my very best to organise a day and time that suits you.
  • Requested Tours can be delivered on most days: morning, afternoon or evening.
  • Maximum of 8 persons on each Tour.
  • Those who come on the Tour MUST adhere to appropriate Social Distancing.

PUBLIC SAFETY REMAINS PARAMOUNT

ROUTE

The Tour route will be slightly different than before, to ensure it is delivered within the official guidance in regard to outdoor spaces.

It is about 1.2 miles long, and will take just over 90 minutes to complete.

The route is on level ground with safe crossing points.

If you want to include more exercise into your Tour, it can be extended up to 2 miles to include walking out of the Town Centre to some of the locations that I talk about. These longer Tours can be arranged on request.

CONTENT

The Tour covers the following topics:

  • Background on the Churchill Tank displayed on the Marine Highway, the North Irish Horse Regiment that used it during the Second World War, and why Carrickfergus was so important in the development of the Tank
  • Women in Work: Factories in Carrickfergus that made a hugely significant contribution to the War effort
  • Domestic life in the town: The Home Front
  • The special uses of the town’s Civic Buildings
  • How the Town Centre’s infrastructure changed throughout the War, particularly when the American Troops arrived
  • The Sunnylands Army Camp – from British to American to Belgian occupation
  • The formation, and onward journey, of the US Rangers
  • A new Belgian Army
  • Carrickfergus Military Prison and Detention Barracks
  • The Military Petrol Distributing Centre

I use approximately 150 photographs to help tell the story of events in Carrickfergus during the Second World War. These photos have been enlarged to A4 size, so are visible from 2 metres to maintain social distancing.

I also have a few exhibits which I bring along. However, due to their fragility, if the weather conditions are not favourable I may not be able to display these –  apologies in advance if this is the case on your Tour. 

If you have any concerns or questions, please get in touch

Adrian

Tour content update

Follow in Royal footsteps

While researching the content of the Tour, I came across a very interesting piece in the autobiography of one of the original United States Army Rangers. Although I have been unable to verify its accuracy, I have no reason to disbelieve it.


With that caveat, it seems that King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (before she became the Queen Mother) visited the Sunnylands Army Camp in Carrickfergus on the morning of the 26th June 1942. There they met some of those men who made up the 1st Battalion U.S. Rangers.


The autobiography mentions how impressed the American soldiers were with the Royal couple – more down to earth than they had anticipated. The Queen, in particular, charmed the Rangers with her knowledgeable comments about their rifles and other military equipment.


The Royals had spent a few days in Northern Ireland specifically visiting American military sites, with this visit to Carrickfergus coming on their last day here. Although many photographs we’re taken throughout their tour, I have been unable to trace any from their short stopover in Carrickfergus. This may be due to the very high level of secrecy surrounding the new elite fighting force that had been created in Sunnylands Camp just a week earlier.


Follow in the footsteps of Royalty, as my Tour includes a visit to where Sunnylands Camp was situated and I tell the story of the activation and onward journey of the only American military unit created away from U.S. soil.

Scheduled Tours are advertised on the Eventbrite website.

Tours on other days or times can be arranged on request.

The image used was created and released by the Imperial War Museum. CAPTION: “HM King George VI and Queen Elizabeth leaving HMS BICESTER at the end of their visit to the naval base at Larne, Northern Ireland, 26 June 1942.”

The “We’re Good To Go” industry standard mark is a self-assessment scheme that has been designed by VisitEngland in partnership with the national tourist organisations Tourism Northern Ireland, VisitScotland and Visit Wales to provide a ‘ring of confidence’ for all sectors of the tourism industry, as well as reassurance to visitors that businesses have clear processes in place and are following industry and Government COVID-19 guidance on cleanliness and social distancing.
Tour Dates Update

IMPORTANT UPDATE

Revised route, new content, restricted group size.

As the Northern Ireland Executive announces amendments to the COVID-19 containment measures, I am continually revising the Tour to ensure Guests’ safety..

Consequently, I will be taking Guided Walking Tours of Carrickfergus, looking specifically at events here during the Second World War, on the following basis:

  • There will be no “just turn up” Tours – all places on the Tour must be booked through Eventbrite or be pre-arranged on request. Drop me an email (leadthewaytourcarrickfergus@gmail.com), give me a call/text (+44 7916780474), or send me a Facebook Message (https://www.facebook.com/leadthewaytour), and I’ll do my very best to organise a day and time that suits you.
  • Requested Tours can be delivered on most days: morning, afternoon or evening.
  • Maximum of 10 persons on each Tour.
  • Those who come on the Tour MUST adhere to appropriate Social Distancing.

PUBLIC SAFETY IS PARAMOUNT

ROUTE

The Tour route will be slightly different than before, to ensure it is delivered within the official guidance in regard to outdoor spaces.

It is about 1.3 miles long, and will take just over 90 minutes to complete (a shorter version is available for children – see The Tour section)

The route is on level ground with safe crossing points.

If you want to include more exercise into your Tour, it can be extended up to 3 miles to include walking out of the Town Centre to some of the locations that I talk about. These longer Tours can be arranged on request.

CONTENT

The Tour covers the following topics:

  • Background on the Churchill Tank displayed on the Marine Highway, the North Irish Horse Regiment that used it during the Second World War, and why Carrickfergus was so important in the development of the Tank
  • Factories in Carrickfergus that made a hugely significant contribution to the War effort
  • Domestic life in the town: The Home Front
  • The special uses of the town’s Civic Buildings
  • How the Town Centre’s infrastructure changed throughout the War, particularly when the American Troops arrived
  • The Sunnylands Army Camp – from British to American to Belgian occupation
  • The formation, and onward journey, of the US Rangers
  • A new Belgian Army
  • Carrickfergus Military Prison and Detention Barracks
  • The Military Petrol Distributing Centre

I use approximately 150 photographs to help tell the story of events in Carrickfergus during the Second World War. These photos have been enlarged to A4 size, so are visible from 2 metres to maintain social distancing.

I also have a few exhibits which I bring along. However, due to their fragility, if the weather conditions are not favourable I may not be able to display these –  apologies in advance if this is the case on your Tour. 

If you have any concerns or questions, please get in touch

Adrian