Northern Ireland’s location on the edge of Europe meant it played an important strategic role in the air and sea war. A number of airfields were established in the wider Lisburn area, including RAF Aldergrove, RAF Nutt’s Corner, RAF Maghaberry and RAF Long Kesh.
Official aerial photograph of Long Kesh airfield, 28 July 1942. Halftown Road is to the right of the airfield. (ILC&LM Collection)
Americans and the War
America entered the war in late 1941, and by early 1942 G.I.s (American soldiers) began arriving in Northern Ireland.
Langford Lodge, near Crumlin, was a grand Georgian stately home formerly owned by the Pakenham Family. The USAAF, or American Airforce, used the base to service their fleet and had two runways. The Lockheed Corporation was contracted to build aircraft, including, bombers here and the Lodge was used as an Officers’ club. The RAF and USAAF even had a flying-boat base at Sandy Bay, Lough Neagh.
Prior to D-Day 120,000 G.I.s were stationed in Northern Ireland for training.
As WartimeNI note, Langford Lodge was very well serviced. It had a hospital and dentist, laundry, church, cinema and even a jazz band. The American comedian Bob Hope, pictured above, was only one of several celebrities to visit the base. Major Glenn Miller, well-known WWII band leader, even played Langford Lodge. Hear a clip of Miller leading his band at a base in England below.
The amenities on offer at the base were in sharp contrast to the austere life most people were living in Northern Ireland.