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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

US Rangers remembered 81 years on in Mid and East Antrim

Ceremony to mark the 81st anniversary celebrations of the establishment of the 1st Battalion US Rangers

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council was delighted to welcome over 30 visitors from across the USA and from Normandy in France over the weekend as part of the 81st anniversary celebrations of the establishment of the 1st Battalion US Rangers - an elite fighting force raised in Carrickfergus in 1942.

 

The American commando-style force was set up during World War Two (WWII) and remains the only US military unit to be formed on foreign soil.  The special visitors included families of the original WWII Rangers who joined the new 1st Battalion US Rangers in 1942, plus ten serving Rangers form the 75th Ranger Regiment, who flew over from their base in Savannah, Georgia.



Ceremony to mark the 81st anniversary celebrations of the establishment of the 1st Battalion US Rangers

 

The weekend was full of interesting and informative events for the guests to enjoy and provided an opportunity for them to gain a deeper insight into the history of the Rangers and their journey here in NI.

 

First up was a seminar in Carrickfergus Town Hall on Friday 16 June. Several guest speakers set the scene, discussing the prelude to America entering the war; the experiences of the first US troops to arrive in Northern Ireland; the formation of a new Commando-style battalion, and the subsequent onward journey of those who temporarily called this part of the world "home".Guests also heard from the founders of Remembering Americans in Europe who erected a memorial to the 1stBattalion US Rangers in Dieppe last August on the anniversary of the ill-fated Dieppe raid in which 50 Rangers took part. Three of those men, who had started their Ranger journey in Carrickfergus lost their lives, becoming the first Americans killed in the war.

 


On Saturday the guests travelled to the Northern Ireland War Memorial Museum in Belfast.  Through stories, photographs and visits to key locations, they discovered how much of the city was destroyed by German Air Raids in 1941, and the devastation troops would have witnessed upon their arrival the following year.


Ceremony to mark the 81st anniversary celebrations of the establishment of the 1st Battalion US Rangers

 

Following that, everyone visited Brownlow House, Lurgan for a guided tour showcasing how private estates were converted for US military use.  There was also a visit to the Lisnabreeny memorial in Carrick – Castlereagh! - a reminder of a cemetery temporarily used for US servicemen who died while in Northern Ireland during the Second World War.

 


On Sunday there was a guided walking tour of Carrickfergus, showcasing what the town was like during wartime and outlining how life dramatically changed for those who lived, worked or were stationed in the town during the war with the tour concluding at the renowned US Rangers Museum, where guests met re-enactors from Wartime Living History and First to Fight, who portrayed various WWII Ranger Battalions as well as the British Commandos who trained them. They were also entertained by the wonderful Kelly Smiley who performed songs popular in the wartime era.

 

Monday 19 June was the 81st anniversary of the activation of the 1st Battalion US Rangers which was marked with a civic commemoration at the US Rangers Memorial Stone, Sunnylands - where the Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Alderman Gerardine Mulvenna, laid a wreath.



Ceremony to mark the 81st anniversary celebrations of the establishment of the 1st Battalion US Rangers

 

Welcoming the guests from the US and France to the Borough was Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Alderman Gerardine Mulvenna, who said: “I am delighted to welcome these wonderful visitors to our Borough on the 81st anniversary of establishment of the 1st Battalion US Rangers. The representatives of the 75th Ranger Regiment, the families of those WWII Rangers and those who keep their memory alive in France and beyond, we very much appreciate you taking the time to be with us this weekend to reflect, to remember and to celebrate the dedication of those original Ranger Battalions.

 


“Mid and East Antrim Borough Council is proud to continue the Ranger legacy and its connection to Carrickfergus. Over 30 years ago now, returning veterans were encouraged to donate their memorabilia and tell their personal stories on a promise that the Council would care for them and keep the memory of their contributions alive. On behalf of Council I am delighted that we are able to continue to honour our commitment to the US Rangers. They will always have a special place in the hearts and minds of all the residents of Carrickfergus.”

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