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Neat story for you THT Marines

Old 05-15-2010, 02:54 PM
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Default Neat story for you THT Marines

This place is about 3 miles from where I grew up. It was just "printed" on the local rag's web site. Derry was the convoy assembly point for escorts for the Atlantic convoys in WWII. It also had an US advanced warning station during the cold war.

Interesting piece on the Marines learning to play the bagpipes!


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Derry's wartime friends recalled as top secret files uncovered





US First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt takes a tour of Creevagh Naval field hospital at Springtown Camp in 1942. (1405IC02)

Published Date: 14 May 2010

Plans are underway to reveal the secret history of the Beech Hill House's World War II US Marines Camp to the public by posting the contents of a 95-box treasure trove of declassified American military files online. It's hoped that the £100,000 project will help people in Derry and the States in tracing family links and promote the pivotal role played by the city in the Allied victory, writes Ian Cullen.
Despite fighting to the death in the brutal battles of the South Pacific as World War II reached its violent conclusion, the "most recent fond memories" of some US Marines killed by Japanese forces would have been of Derry.

Those were the comments of one of America's most distinguished military figures when he visited the city last week for a special ceremony to remember US Marines stationed in Derry during the conflict in Europe.
Lt. General Martin Berndt, a decorated Vietnam veteran, famed for leading a daring rescue of US airforce pilot Scott O'Grady in Bosnia in 1995 - an event which inspired Hollywood movie 'Behind Enemy Lines' - gave a special address at the Beech Hill House Hotel in Ardmore.

The three star general was the special guest of the Friends of the Beech Hill Marine Corps Association at the Derry hotel which was known as "Base One Europe" for the US Marines during World War II. He was joined by close relatives of men who fought in the conflict as he laid a wreath at the Beech Hill memorial to mark the 65th anniversary of VE Day.

During the event, it was revealed that a treasure trove of archived documents and photographs focusing on the US Marines' stay in Derry during World War II are being prepared to go online. The Beech Hill is to set up a digital archive of the items - retrieved from 95 boxes of declassified US military files on the former camp - in an effort to promote the pivotal role played by Derry during the last global conflict.

Among the documents, maps, photographs, film and sound recordings are reports and images of famous visitors to the base, including King George VI, former US First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, actor Bob Hope and singer Al Jolson.

After reading the full text of the absolute surrender of German forces, dated May 8, 1945, Lt. General Berndt asked those assembled at last Wednesday's event to "never forget" the men who fought and the many who died.

"It was an interesting time for the whole world and it's important that we remember that. It's easy to forget that the things we have today in the free world are a result of the folk who fought for and gave us them on a silver platter," he said.

The decorated military figure, who travelled to the city with his wife Diana, noted that many marines left Derry at the end of the conflict in Europe to fight in the cruel and brutal battles against the Japanese forces in the South Pacific.

"Many of the men who came here then went to the Pacific. We may forget that, when they were out there, their most recent fond memories of the past were of their time here in Derry."

Fascinating tales
Filmmaker and author Dr Mary Pat Kelly, the founder of the Friends of the Beech Hill Marine Corps Association back in 1997, has a host of fascinating tales about the Marines' time in Derry.

In one particular anecdote, the Irish-American recalls how the Marines' relationship with one young boy made "a very positive impact" on him.
"They befriended a young boy and taught him how to play baseball. He then told them which greyhound was going to win at the races that night and, when asked why, he replied that he saw Dr Iodine give him a shot. That boy was John Hume, the co-recipient of the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize for his pivotal role in ending decades of violence, and he is now Chair of the Beech Hilll Friends of US Marines Association."

Around 500 marines from the 1st Provisional Marine Battalion were based at the Beech Hill camp between 1942 and 1944 and became an integral part of Derry's wartime society. They hosted children's parties, barbecues and swimming competitions as well as putting on boxing exhibitions with local champions and wooing the local crowds with battalion baseball games - some of which included professional and semi-professional players from the US.

Bagpipes on Iwo Jima
The men even founded the Marine Corps Pipes and Drums Band after being challenged to learn to play the instrument by Derry's Lord Mayor.
"Within a month they could play the bagpipes," Ms Kelly says. "The story goes that they piped Marines ashore on landing on Iwo Jima, something that later turned out to be true. On an anniversary of the landing, two Marines found what they thought was a secret weapon, for poisoned darts or something, but another Marine later told them it was a chanter from bagpipes."

Such tales have led many to the conclusion that men from the Beech Hill camp had brought their Derry lessons on the bagpipes to a vicious conflict on the far side of the world in February 1945.

The 'Irish Marines', as the Derry-based ranks became known, spent more than two years guarding the US Naval Operations Base in Derry, which was vital to the Allied victory in Battle of the Atlantic and, as many authorities on the subject believe, the eventual outcome of the war in Europe.

In 1997, John H Dalton, Secretary of the US Navy, dedicated a monument to the 1st Provisional Marine Battalion and marked the formation of the Friends of the Beech Hill Marine Corps Association.

Conor Donnelly, whose family run the Beech Hill House Hotel, is overseeing the archives project. "We get so many people ringing the hotel hoping to find out about relatives who were here during the Second World War. This project will, hopefully, allow people to trace their family history."

The hotel also has advanced plans to set up a permanent museum exhibition in memory of the US Marines' stay in Derry and many items have already been collated, including uniforms and other pieces, which were donated by the Museum of the Marines in South Carolina.

Last edited by Menzies; 05-16-2010 at 07:57 AM.
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Old 05-15-2010, 05:58 PM
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Very cool!
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Old 05-16-2010, 07:47 AM
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Great piece, thanks for posting Menz.

BTW, There is no such thing as a 'EX Marine'
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Old 05-16-2010, 07:49 AM
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Former Marines..
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Old 05-16-2010, 07:51 AM
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Originally Posted by wildgeechi View Post
Former Marines..
You're starting to scare me...
I have been a Marine since 1969 and will remain so until my ashes are spread in the bay.
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Old 05-16-2010, 07:57 AM
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Fixed.
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Old 05-16-2010, 07:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Menzies View Post
Fixed.
Good job... How do you do that? I have made mistakes in a title before and not figured out how to edit it after its posted..
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Old 05-16-2010, 08:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Afishinado View Post
Good job... How do you do that? I have made mistakes in a title before and not figured out how to edit it after its posted..
After you hit edit to change the post, click advanced and it will allow you to change the title.

I decided to check into the story about them learning the bagpipes and came across this, check paragraph 4.

http://www.leatherneckpipeband.com/page4/page4.html
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