Londonderry commemorates 75th anniversary of US wartime invasion

A month-long series of commemorative events to mark the 75th anniversary of the US Navy and Marines Corps arriving in Londonderry is to be held at the Beech Hill Country House Hotel.

Monday, 31st July 2017, 2:06 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th September 2017, 10:57 am
Patsy OKane, owner of the Beech Hill Country House Hotel in Londonderry, with volunteer researcher, Mark Lusby, in the Museum Room at the hotel

As home to Base One Europe, the largest WWII US Navy base in Europe, Londonderry played a pivotal role in the defeat of the German U-boats in the Battle of the Atlantic.

Around 750 US Navy and Marines personnel were billeted in one of the main accommodation camps in the woodlands around the present-day Beech Hill.

Events as part of US Navy and Marines History Month at the hotel’s Base One Europe Museum will take place throughout August.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Around 400 US Navy personnel were deployed to Londonderry in July 1941, before the US entered the Second World War.

The personnel built what would become the largest US Navy base in Europe and a ‘home away from home’ for the US destroyers and destroyer escorts who would go on to defeat the U-boats.

The facility employed thousands of civilians in its state-of-the-art ship repair yard and innovative naval hospital.

Hotel owner Patsy O’Kane said it was important to mark one of the most significant chapters in Londonderry’s history.

“The Beech Hill continues to enjoy a very special relationship with the US Marines and it is a friendship we are very proud of.

“It is now three-quarters of a century since the first personnel were billeted at the Beech Hill and a fitting time for us to remember their roles – and the roles of our city and the hotel – in world history.”

Each Tuesday evening throughout US Navy and Marines History Month, the museum’s volunteer researcher Mark Lusby will host a short talk in the hotel on the history of the Navy and Marines in Londonderry.

The talks will be followed by guided tours around the estate and the Base One Europe Museum, which documents the story of the Marines’ headquarters on the hotel grounds.

Mr Lusby said the events will “unpack the legacy of those dramatic events 75 years ago for the heritage of both the US and Londonderry”.

The historical talks will take place every Tuesday evening from 7pm to 7.45pm from August 8 to 29, with an admission fee of £5 as a donation towards publication of the story of Base One Europe.