Nylons, Cigarettes and Candy: When the GI’s were over here

GI STORY...Anne Marie McAleese in the Marine Room at Beech Hill Hotel in Londonderry - the home to 500 US Marines during WWII. CR24 133S
GI STORY...Anne Marie McAleese in the Marine Room at Beech Hill Hotel in Londonderry - the home to 500 US Marines during WWII. CR24 133S

PORTSTEWART radio presenter Anne Marie McAleese marks 70 years since the first American GIs arrived in Northern Ireland in a new BBC Radio Ulster documentary.

In 1942 the first American GIs arrived in Northern Ireland before heading off to fight in World War 2.

Eventually around 300,000 GIs made here their home from home, at one point representing one tenth of the population.

Now, to mark the 70th anniversary of their arrival in Northern Ireland Anne Marie McAleese presents a documentary exploring the impact the GIs had on our communities.

In Nylons, Cigarettes and Candy: The GIs in Ulster, on BBC Radio Ulster this Sunday (June 17) at 1.30pm, we hear from GIs who were stationed all over Northern Ireland including the north coast.

Londonderry had the largest number of US marines stationed in Europe, there to guard “Base One Europe”– a navy base crucial in the North Atlantic Operations.

Author and film maker Mary Pat Kelly shows Anne Marie the grounds of Beech Hill Estate in Derry – the home to the ‘Irish Marines’.

Bishop Edward Daly, a young boy in Belleek at the time, remembers the kindness shown to him by GI Rocky Grassano from New Jersey.

Rocky, now 93, remembers Fermanagh with great fondness as it was the place he fell in love with local girl Lily Keown.