World War Two and Greencastle Aerodrome: Background Information

On 3 September 1939 British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain declared war on Germany. As a result Northern Ireland was plunged into conflict with the Nazis. In 1940 Winston Churchill became Prime Minister but by this stage most of Europe was occupied by the Germans. The UK was one of the few countries still withstanding Nazi aggression. As a result the war arrived on Mourne’s doorstep.

After the attack on Pearl Harbour in 1941 the Americans entered the war. The first troops arrived in Belfast in January 1942. The plan was to build airfields in Northern Ireland to accommodate more troops for training as replacement crews. Around 800 people were recruited to construct a new airfield at Greencastle. It opened on 30 July 1942. It was an important stop over facility for aircraft and it became a base for the US troops where they underwent training in airplane maintenance and flying operations. American soldiers were billeted with local families and many ended up marrying local girls. Many of the men based in Mourne would go on to be part of the D-Day Landings, with many never returning.

D Day Robert Capa

One of the most famous images to emerge from the Normanday Landings by photographer Robert Capa, capturing the chaos and confusion of the attack.

Greencastle was transformed into a bustling war camp with Nissin huts popping up all over the land underneath the rumbling sounds of airplane engines. Some troops were based in Mourne Park House, the home of the Earls of Kilmorey.

In March 1944 General Patton inspected troops of the 5th Infantry Division stationed in the Mournes.

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