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First, The Yanks Invaded Aintree

by John P Kerrigan

Contributed by 
John P Kerrigan
People in story: 
John P Kerrigan
Location of story: 
Aintree, North Liverpool
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A2680832
Contributed on: 
30 May 2004

Walton Vale Liverpool. May 1941 After a landmine hit The Windsor Castle

From Black and White to Colour

It was 1943 and I was then six years old , when suddenly, every thing changed in North Liverpool. The American Army arrived and overnight everything seemed to change from black and white to colour.
I was reminded of this event, which happened over sixty years ago, when
I was visiting my daughter and her family in Utah, USA earlier this year.

I was in a small town called Ogden visiting the local railway museum, and talking to one of the guides who mentioned that the Union Pacific Station there had been at the crossroads of the many wartime military training camps in the area. It was from here that many US soldiers would set out on the first leg of their long journey to Britain and begin their preparations for the invasion of Europe on D Day.

It prompted me to think about my own memories of those times ,when as a small boy, I watched with fascination, as a succession of troop ships arrived at Liverpool Pierhead Landing Stage.

I can still clearly remember thousands of GI's marching in columns along Walton Vale, as I came out of school. They were followed by enormous trucks, jeeps, tankers and every conceivable type of military vehicle.
They were marching from the docks to take up residence at the world famous Aintree Racecourse — the home of the Grand National. Eventually over sixteen thousand of them were camped there, with the racecourse turned into a vast parking lot for military vehicles and equipment
Walton Vale — Aintree 1942
Memories of individuals like the GI who was walking towards my sister and I as we walked home from school along Moss Lane , he was carrying a large box of chocolates in a box tied up with a ribbon.
He asked if we liked Candy — ‘What is it ?’ we said, then quickly added, ‘Yes please’. He had obviously failed to impress one of the local girls, but certainly impressed us.

Of the time when a trio of musicians in uniform came into our classroom and mercifully relieved us from our boredom by playing some swing music.

How they never seemed to tire of being asked countless times ‘Got any gum chum’ by hordes of kids

The Americans soon took over the area, especially cafes, milk bars and pubs and dancehalls.
One of them, the Aintree Institute, later became more well known-as one of the venues of The Beatles in the sixties.

Liverpool is fondly remembered by many U.S. servicemen who were stationed at bases around the city, such as Aintree and Haydock. Eleanor Roosevelt visited Liverpool in 1942. But the biggest U.S. base was Burtonwood, around ten miles outside Liverpool, which still housed tens of thousands at the height of the Cold War in the 1950s and 1960s. Consequently many 'GI brides' originated from Merseyside.
The Mersey was the Western gateway for supplies and troop movements and Liverpool housed the Allied headquarters for the Battle of the Atlantic.

HERE IN THE DARK DAYS OF WAR
AND IN THE DAWN OF VICTORY
AMERICAN TROOPS AND CARGOES
MOVED THROUGH THIS PORT
FURTHERED BY
BRITISH AND AMERICANS WORKING TOGETHER
THIS STONE RECORDS THEIR UNITY IN
ACCOMPLISHING THEIR MISSION

ERECTED BY THE 15TH PORT UNIT
UNITED STATES ARMY-1944.
This plaque was erected at the Pier Head Liverpool to commemorate the fact that over a million US soldiers passed through the port on their way to take part in D day. Many would later return in one of the thousands of military coffins stored in a requisitioned warehouse on the waterfront, But that was a part of the war I was yet to discover. After the heavy bombing which had already devastated large parts of the city during the May Blitz of 1941, the war had now became an exhilarating and colourful experience for us small boys, with the continuing excitement of so many new people and events happening almost daily all around us

It now appears that through the all the pain and suffering that brought about the eventual victory over the enemy- that what lasts is the bonds of our common humanity.
Now whenever I pass the racecourse at Aintree, I recall those times sixty years ago when Little America came to visit in 1943, and then quietly went back home in 1945.
And of the many little acts of kindness which these strange and colourful allies brought to our community during those dark and dangerous times

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These messages were added to this story by site members between June 2003 and January 2006. It is no longer possible to leave messages here. Find out more about the site contributors.

Message 1 - US Army at Aintree Racecourse

Posted on: 31 July 2004 by John P Kerrigan

Anyone got memories of the US Army based at Aintree Racecourse from 1943 - 1945.
Would you contact JP Kerrigan
at - john_kerrigan@onetel.com
as I am compiling a website on the subject and would be glad to include any recollections you may have.
Cheers.
John Kerrigan.

Message 1 - blitz walton vale

Posted on: 11 October 2005 by ted callister

i just spotted the snap of the bombing in walton vale,i was one of the bodies buried there!!!it was about midnight and we had been putting out fires in a house in chevin rd (just off chapel avenue)and outside someone shouted "fire bombs in chapel av." off we dashed to be there first, in front two girls then a young fellow then brother harry me and cousin jack--i reckon i was only about 40 ft. away from the explosion i think it hit the bank about 10ft. up i saw the spark of ignition and an almighty crack leaving me back in chevin rd under the 2 houses that collapsed,i came to deaf as a door nail,i saw people being taken past me with their wounds tied up, i dug myself out and headed into the shelter opposite where people talked at me but i could`nt hear,i headed down chapel av. nearly fell down the sewer!! my sister took me into the shelter shouting where is our harry, i never thought about him (must of lost a little) anyway harry came in on a stretcher an hour later and cousin jack did not appear till next morning and he never new where he had been!!my name is ted callister..

Message 1 - blitz walton vale

Posted on: 11 October 2005 by ted callister

i just spotted the snap of the bombing in walton vale,i was one of the bodies buried there!!!it was about midnight and we had been putting out fires in a house in chevin rd (just off chapel avenue)and outside someone shouted "fire bombs in chapel av." off we dashed to be there first, in front two girls then a young fellow then brother harry me and cousin jack--i reckon i was only about 40 ft. away from the explosion i think it hit the bank about 10ft. up i saw the spark of ignition and an almighty crack leaving me back in chevin rd under the 2 houses that collapsed,i came too deaf as a door nail,i saw people being taken past me with their wounds tied up, i dug myself out and headed into the shelter opposite where people talked at me but i could`nt hear,i headed down chapel av. nearly fell down the sewer!! my sister took me into the shelter shouting where is our harry, i never thought about him (must of lost a little) anyway harry came in on a stretcher an hour later and cousin jack did not appear till next morning and he never new where he had been!!my name is ted callister..

Message 1 - blitz walton vale

Posted on: 11 October 2005 by ted callister

i just spotted the snap of the bombing in walton vale,i was one of the bodies buried there!!!it was about midnight and we had been putting out fires in a house in chevin rd (just off chapel avenue)and outside someone shouted "fire bombs in chapel av." off we dashed to be there first, in front two girls then a young fellow then brother harry me and cousin jack--i reckon i was only about 40 ft. away from the explosion i think it hit the bank about 10ft. up i saw the spark of ignition and an almighty crack leaving me back in chevin rd under the 2 houses that collapsed,i came too deaf as a door nail,i saw people being taken past me with their wounds tied up, i dug myself out and headed into the shelter opposite where people talked at me but i could`nt hear,i headed down chapel av. nearly fell down the sewer!! my sister took me into the shelter shouting where is our harry, i never thought about him (must of lost a little) anyway harry came in on a stretcher an hour later and cousin jack did not appear till next morning and he never new where he had been!!.-as for the "yanks" at aintree we met them often they were very friendly with us but not too chummy with some of their own!before the americans we had the french navy using the aintree stables and just before them it was the the french army.

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