THE Diamond Centre in Coleraine is to pay homage to the American soldiers stationed on the north coast during the Second World War almost 70 ears ago.
As part of a unique Window on History Project the centre is to display a number of shop dummies wearing uniforms and equipment associated with the the US 82nd Airborne Paratroopers of the 507th PIR (Parachute Infantry Regiment) and 508th PIR who were billeted in Portrush and Portstewart in late 1943, early 1944.
Local enthusiast Michael Gilmore explains the project: “In 2005, it was a great honour for me to meet veterans of the 82nd Airborne Division when they visited this area to help promote the ‘Passing Through’ book written about them by local author John McCann. I was struck by the love and affection those heroes of D-Day had for the Coleraine, Portrush and Portstewart areas.
As time went on, it seemed to me there was an imbalance – they remembered us, while this area seemed to have largely forgotten them. “
On display will be uniforms, artefacts and personal items associated with the Airborne troops and other GIs stationed around the province.
Gwyneth McQuiston, manager of the Diamond Centre says “We are delighted to welcome such a wealth of history to be on display at the Centre. I first met Michael Gilmore a few months back and his enthusiasm to preserve and share the uniforms and equipment that was used in WW2 is immeasurable. “Please take the time to view the window display, read the narratives and educate yourself on a piece of history that happened in Coleraine during WW2, it will amaze you.
“The timing of the display is perfect with Armed Forces Day and the approaching 4 July American Independence Day, given the American presence on the Causeway Coast. “Take the time to browse and think about what the brave men and women of our past did for our tomorrow, added Gwyneth.”