General Dwight D Eisenhower made several visits to Northern Ireland during and after World War Two. Across Ulster, places still bear the name of the Allied Supreme Commander who would go on to become President of the United States of America.
It was here in Northern Ireland that the American Army first began to concentrate for our share in the attack upon the citadel of continental Europe. From here started the long, hard march to Allied Victory. Without Northern Ireland, I do not see how the American forces could have concentrated to begin the invasion of Europe.
General Dwight D Eisenhower
Supreme Commander Eisenhower visited Northern Ireland in 1942. He attended a conference along with General Hartle and General Bonesteel. General Clark, General Lee, and General Spatz were also in attendance.
17th May 1944
Allied Supreme Commander Dwight D Eisenhower landed at Greencastle Airfield, Kilkeel, Co. Down. There, General Stafford LeRoy Irwin greeted him and lead a viewing of 10th Infantry Regiment and Divisional Artillery at the airfield.
Eisenhower then travelled onwards to Newcastle, Co. Down. There he inspected an Amphibious School and 28th Infantry Field Battalion. At nearby Dundrum, Co. Down, the Supreme Commander observed a simulated attack by an infantry battalion with support from a tank platoon. The last stop in the county was at Ballykinler, Co. Down where small unit training took place in front of the Allied Commander.
The US Army General then drove to the Headquarters of XV Corps at Brownlow House, Lurgan, Co. Armagh. There he dined with General Irwin, General McMahon, and the GOC Northern Ireland.
18th May 1944
General McMahon travelled with Eisenhower to inspect 8th Infantry Division. Inspections took place at Florence Court, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh, Carrickawick, Co. Fermanagh, and Gortin, Co. Tyrone. He then completed a review of 28th Infantry Division in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh.
19th May 1944
Bangor, Co. Down was next on the itinerary of Dwight D Eisenhower. There, accompanied by Rear Admiral Alan G Kirk, Rear Admiral Morton L Deyo, Admiral HL Bevan, and Major Genral Hastings, he inspected the US Navy on board USS Quincy docked off the Co. Down coast in Belfast Lough. The north pier in Bangor, Co. Down where this inspection took place now bears the name Eisenhower Pier.
I am looking forward to the day when we can be together again and have a big party in some port which the enemy now claims his own.
Eisenhower on USS Quincy, Bangor 1944
Later that day, Eisenhower also addressed the crew of USS Tuscaloosa in Belfast Lough, Co. Down where they prepared unknowingly for D-Day. Read Admiral Kirk and Rear Admiral Morton L Deyo accompanied the General on board Tuscaloosa. While in Bangor, Co. Down, Dwight D Eisenhower and Rear Admiral Alan G Kirk also addressed the crew of USS Texas after circling USS Arkansas and USS Nevada on board USS Baldwin. After visits to the ships, the General returned to shore at Ballyholme Bay to watch the US Navy perform exercises.
The final stop in Northern Ireland on this visit for General Eisenhower was Ballyhalbert Airfield, Co. Down. He departed from there in the evening bound for RAF Bovingdon, Hertfordshire.
23rd August 1945
During his visit to Belfast, Co. Antrim, General Eisenhower was a guest of honour at the Grand Opera House. There he attended a 1930hrs “Special Victory Performance” of the Savoy Players’ ‘Lady From Edinburgh’.
24th August 1945
General Dwight D Eisenhower attended a ceremony at Belfast City Hall, Belfast, Co. Antrim. There, Mayor Sir Crawford McCullagh awarded him freedom of the city. He also received an honorary degree from Queen’s University Belfast. The platform party included Sir James Grigg, Lord Abercorn, and Sir Thomas Dixon. After the ceremony, Eisenhower signed the visitors’ book and autographed a portrait that lay hidden for many years.