Kircassock House once stood in Magheralin, Co. Down. The large country mansion housed the Headquarters of 8th United States Army Air Force Composite Command. It became AAF Station 231, codenamed 'Nyack'.
Composite Command had administrative responsibility for all USAAF activity in Northern Ireland. This included training bomber crews. Before moving to Kircassock, they had been at RAF Long Kesh from 12th September 1942. On 14th November 1942, operations moved to the Magheralin site, where they remained until 13th February 1944.
The grounds of Kircassock House held between 70-80 buildings for the USAAF. These included barrack huts, mess halls, sick quarters, offices, a fire station, and a sewerage works. The mansion house itself became the Officers’ Club.
The club had some high profile visitors over the years. Rumours suggest that Prime Minister Winston Churchill and General Eisenhower stayed in Kircassock. Visitors from other walks of life included comedian Bob Hope and actors Dorothy Lamour and William Bendix. They had come to Northern Ireland to entertain the American military personnel.
American Forces at Kircassock House
The following American forces were based in Kircassock House, Co. Down between 1943 and 1944.
|Start Date||End Date||Units|
|16th September 1942||US Army Postal Station NY639|
|14th November 1942||13th February 1944||8th USAAF Composite Command Headquarters|
|7th December 1942||12th March 1944||401st Provisional Station Gas Defense Detachment|
|7th May 1943||15th January 1944||252nd Military Police Company (Aviation)|
|7th May 1943||15th January 1944||1385th Military Police Company (Aviation)|
|15th May 1943||11th February 1944||401st Signal Company (Aviation)|
|December 1943||496th Fighter Training Group|
|1st March 1944||25th May 1944||US Army XV Corps Headquarters|
|14th March 1944||17th May 1944||2nd Platoon, 506th Quartermaster Car Company|
Belgian soldiers may have had a base at Kircassock after the USAAF departed for England in 1944.
While the USAAF were at Nyack, build up in preparations was slow due to the invasion of North Africa. Composite Command had little to do for many months in 1943 and dealt with minor administrative matters. They focussed on military discipline, morale, and building a good relationship with the locals.
After the war, Ormeau Bakery purchased the site, demolishing the grand house and surrounding buildings. A residential block and a large water tower are all that remains of the sprawling USAAF base. The site is now privately owned and used for farming.
The gate lodge on Dromore Road still bears graffiti of names, hometowns, and regiments of some of those who served at Kircassock over the years. Another gate lodge stands on the Lismaine Road. The road running between the two gate lodges offers access to the site.