Between 1942 and 1944, Northern Ireland hosted tens of thousands of American military personnel. Many towns and villages played home to GIs, including Belfast. The 3878th Quartermaster Gasoline Supply Company had their headquarters at Lisnabreeny.
American troops differed from their Allied counterparts. In the US there was still a policy of segregation. Black and white troops served in different battalions.
Who are the Quartermaster Corps?
The Quartermaster Corps is the oldest logistics branch in the US Army. They have seen action in ever major military campaign since 1775. The 3878th Quartermaster Gasoline Supply Company set up in the Castlereagh hills outside Belfast.
Their headquarters stood opposite the American Military Cemetery on the Rocky Road at Lisnabreeny. They would go on to play a vital role in the D-Day campaign. Their main role was to transport and deliver petroleum and gasoline to the front lines. On 6th June 1944, they joined 1st Engineer Special Brigade, who landed on Utah Beach.
Mine was the first blood spilled that day. I jumped in darkness into Normandy, D-Day plus 1. Bataan, North Africa, Sicily. I was there. I am Quartermaster. I can shape the course of combat, change the outcome of battle. Look to me: Sustainer of Armies since 1775. I am Quartermaster. I am proud.
– Taken from The Quartermaster’s Creed
The 3878th at Lisnabreeny
The 3878th Quartermaster Gasoline Supply Company occupied a hilltop position on Belfast’s Rocky Road. The site included a range of buildings including housing and canteen facilities.
Josie Lee Bedford from Starkville, MS served with the 3878th Quartermasters from 1942 to 1946. He saw action in France and Germany before returning home, farming corn and driving trucks until 1976.
Access to the Gasoline Supply Company compound was through a concrete posted gateway. The same entrance is still in use today. Fencing rigged on metal posts formed a protective surrounding of the area.
The Lisnabreeny site today
Little remains above the ground at Lisnabreeny. The field closest to the roadside contains some concrete from steps and building bases. These are more visible on Google Earth than on the ground, though.
A scattering of finds lie throughout the lower field. Rusted oil drums remain where they lay in 1944. Some of the brick and earthworks used to camouflage and protect them from air raids is also still in place.
This area, just outside the city, heaved with US military between 1942 and 1944. In the next field, there is still evidence of the U3 heavy anti-aircraft battery. The three 93mm guns held commanding views over the city and have left their mark to the present day.
Nearby Lisnabreeny House was also used as an American Military Headquarters. The building is now part of the Lagan College campus and features on the same walking trail as the Lisnabreeny Cemetery.