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Remembering the ‘Yanks’ in Derry in WWII

Capt HC Fitz US Navy addresses assembled US Navy and Marine personnel during a ceremony at Springtown Camp t mark the first anniversary of Base One Europe's commissioning. Left to Right are Capt Van Leer Kirkman, Base Commandant; Capt Fitz; Mr Simmons, Mayor; William Lowry MP.

Capt HC Fitz US Navy addresses assembled US Navy and Marine personnel during a ceremony at Springtown Camp t mark the first anniversary of Base One Europe's commissioning. Left to Right are Capt Van Leer Kirkman, Base Commandant; Capt Fitz; Mr Simmons, Mayor; William Lowry MP. "Images courtesy of the US National Archives and Records and the Beech Hill Association"

Seventy-one years ago today, on February 5, 1942, the US Naval Operating Base in Derry was formally commissioned for service.

Code-named Base One Europe, the US Navy had secretly begun the construction work on ten sites across the city and surrounding countryside - a full six months before Pearl Harbor. Faint traces of the WWII American presence can still be found at each of the ten sites. More indelible, however, are the personal memories of Derry people of the impact of the presence of 5,000 US Navy, Marine Corps and Construction Battalion personnel. Researchers working on the Base One Europe-Beech Hill Camp Museum at the Beech Hill Country House Hotel have tracked down four local people with a personal connection with Base One Europe. The Journal’s Sean McLaughlin finds out more - click on the related stories.

 

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