The US Rangers Museum and Andrew Jackson Cottage at Boneybefore, just outside Carrickfergus, is to be the venue for an action-packed afternoon of family fun for Thanksgiving Day – with much more to come in 2017.
The Borough will lead local celebrations on Saturday 26 November for this popular American holiday – that also marks a successful Harvest – while paying tribute to the US Rangers – an elite World War II US Commando Force established almost 75 years ago in Carrickfergus.
Speaking in advance of the event, which she will be attending in person, (at 2pm) the Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough, Councillor Audrey Wales MBE said: “Come and meet World War II reenactors, representing all the Ranger Battalions of the period, who will be on site in an authentic US Army camp setting.
“Genuine World War II artefacts will also be on display with experts on hand to explain them. With real American Thanksgiving food and craft activities for children and live wartime music, there’s plenty for all the family to see and do,” Cllr Wales added.
The Thanksgiving Day celebrations are especially important this year, as preparations are already in hand for the US Rangers Museum to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the 1st Ranger Battalion, which is initially being marked by a planned refurbishment of the museum.
“Take this opportunity at the Thanksgiving event to see our plans for the revamp. All are welcome to come along and have a say on the proposals.
“We would also love to hear any personal stories and invite people to bring along artefacts relating to The Rangers,” said Cllr Wales.
Made up solely of US army volunteers, the Battalion was nicknamed ‘Darby’s Rangers’ after their dynamic leader, Lieutenant Colonel William Darby, who was later killed in action.
They trained in extreme conditions and then fought in some of the deadliest battles in Europe during World War II. It remains the only US military unit ever founded on foreign soil.
In 1942 the American Army decided to raise an elite fighting force, based on the British Army Commandos, as the spearhead of all Allied offences against the enemy in the War in Europe.
On June 19th 1942, volunteers from US Army units throughout Northern Ireland assembled in Carrickfergus to form one of what was to be one of their most courageous and decorated units, (pictured, attached)
Even the training was tough. When the 1st Ranger Battalion was officially activated on orders from the Commanding General European Theatre of Operations on 19th June 1942, its 26 officers and 447 enlisted men, was deliberately set 10% over strength, to compensate for losses due to injury and those returned to their units during the very demanding induction.
One of their most difficult tasks was during the D-Day Landings in Normand, after which the US Rangers successfully engaged in various theatres throughout the war – continuing to ‘achieve the impossible’.
Even the final assault for the WWII Special Forces US Rangers – planned for mainland Japan – was only halted when they learned of the bombing of Hiroshima and Japanese surrender.
For more information, contact Carrickfergus Museum on 028 9335 8241 or email [email protected] or visit