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15 October 2014
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American Troops In Bessbrook 1940's

by Newry Branch Library

Contributed by 
Newry Branch Library
People in story: 
F.G.Quinn Sgt. George Earl Cooper
Location of story: 
Bessbrook Newry Co.Down
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A3348236
Contributed on: 
30 November 2004

This story was written by Mr.FG Quinn a resident of Newry now but originally from Bessbrook.

A large number of American Army troops were stationed in Bessbrook during World War 2. They came to train on the hills and mountains around the village.They were billeted in the Town Hall, the Technical School and the Orange Hall and the officers were housed at Mount Caulfield the home of Sarah Richardson. They also constructed a large camp at Derramore. They had Nissan tpye huts,footpaths and roadways and also PX stores where they stored all their equipment, food, and gear.They also had plenty of cigarettes, chocolate and even nylon stockings, which they sometimes gave to their girlfriends in the village.
The Officers were very strict about security. I was working in the Post Office and also delivered telegrams to the Town Hall. I went in past the sentry to the mail office and an officer asked me what I was doing there. He told me in future to deliver any mail at the front door.
I became friendly with the young soldiers and one especially, whose name was George Earl Cooper.He was about twenty years old. He was a Cherokee Indian another was a Mexican called Chicko.
They trained on the hills and mountains around Bessbrook, the Bernish, Camlough and Slievegullion. The officer I told you about was a tough cookie, as they used to say. I saw him with a platoon of soldiers oustide my front door in Fountain Street, Bessbrook. He had a small stick that he used to tap a soldier under the chin to keep his head up or point out a fault in his uniform. The soldiers were called GIs, short for Government Issue. Their dress uniform was very smart, a dark brown tunic buttoned down the front, a belt of the same fine material, shirt and tie and fawn trousers.
In May 1944 they were confined behind barbed wire in the pond field and my friend told me that they were soon leaving.
The Normandy landings started early in the morning of 6th June 1944 and my friends were some of the first to land at Omaha Beach. Many were killed. After some hold up at the beachhead cliffs they broke out and were soon on their way through France to Germany.
Top Sgt. George Earl Cooper survived the war and came to Bessbrook to see me before he returned to America.
It was both exciting and sad times especially remembering all the young men and women who lost their lives in WW2

FG Quinn 22/11/04

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