- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Frances Williamson
- Location of story:
- Northern Ireland
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 13 February 2004
Before the war I was working in the Albion clothes factory as a designer, the factory was making boy’s suits and coats - but before the war civilian production ceased and we began to make army uniforms, that was approx 1938 — 1939. I then left and went to work for the American Red Cross.
The Pickie Hotel in Bangor was requisitioned by the American Army for the American Red Cross. I was the manager of the Bangor American Red Cross, all the furniture was put in storage and the Americans brought their own bunk beds etc. The Americans troops stationed around NI came to spend their leave in the Red Cross in Bangor. They had all kinds of recreation on offer - dances, bicycles, snooker etc. The canteen was open from 8am to 2am in the morning.
Just before D Day, Eisenhower and Montgomery came to Bangor to visit the American troops. They visited the Red Cross in Bangor and went out into the bay to visit the American ships. Lady Bangor brought Montgomery’s mother to the Red Cross in a pony and trap the Americans were fascinated by her because she was a beautiful old lady in a very long black skirt.
Rationing were in place - but I used to get Spam, Doughnuts and Coco Cola. Marshall Mackey was an American, was married to one of the Mackie’s from Mackie’s foundry.
I saw Glen Millar both in the Plaza in Belfast but was taken by the director’s of the Red Cross to Langford Lodge where there was a large air force base , the 8th Airforce were based there for a while, I never heard from any of them again after they left England, so I think they were all lost. A friend heard that the boat they were on was blown up before they left South Hampton.
I saw Glen Miller and also had dinner with him. There were big bowls of fruit on every table and half the guests had the fruit eaten before the first course came because of the rationing.
I’ve been aboard the Texas and the Nevada — the huge war ships which were there before D Day.
I’ll never forget seeing the evacuees coming off the train in Comber, they were filthy , their faces were black and their clothes ripped. They were sleeping anywhere they could, they arrived with nothing, all their belongings were lost in the Blitz.
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