The FRIENDLY Invasion 3,000,000 GIs


Men of the US Army Signal Corps train on a Northern Irish firing range, March 1942

It all started on January 26, 1942, when Private Milburn Henke walked down the gangplank at Belfast. Fortunately, he and his comrades in the 34th Infantry Division were not unwanted nor uninvited occupiers. This was a friendly invasion.

Over the subsequent months, Henke was followed by hundreds of thousands of US personnel. Nothing on this scale had been seen in Britain before. The Americans had come over in 1918, but the ‘Doughboys’ of General John Pershing’s American Expeditionary Force had been fewer and most had quickly been sent to the Western Front. Relatively few of the 1,000,000-strong AEF took up residence in Britain.

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