As Remembrance Day approaches, Portrush Film Theatre is staging a special screening, talk and exhibition devoted to American soldiers who were stationed in Portrush in the run-up to D-Day.
In December 1943, 2004 men of the US 507th Parachute Infantry Regimemt, 82nd Airborne Division, arrived in Portrush and became part of the local community until their departure the following March. Their destination was England for final training for D-Day, June 6th, 1944.
The hour-long film “D-Day Down To Earth – Return Of The 507th” recounts the D-Day story of these “tourists” to Portrush and what became of the men who played such a key role in Operation Overlord. Of the 2004 paratroopers of the 507 who stayed in Portrush, D-Day claimed 303 killed, 254 wounded and 178 missing.
The screening came about after Portrush Film Theatre was approached by local campaigner Mike Gilmore, who hopes to see greater recognition of the Americans’ time on the Causeway Coast.
“So few people now are unaware of this moment in history when Portrush people took in 2,000 Americans and looked after them, putting them up in guest houses, taking them down the chippy and sharing a few beers with them,” said Mike.
He was particularly keen to hold the screening at PFT because the cinema dates back to 1939.
“The visiting soldiers had plenty of time for recreation, so it is certain that they would have gone to the pictures. It will be amazing to see this documentary, sitting in the same auditorium that many of those on screen would have sat in nearly 75 years ago.”
Alongside the film, Mike Gilmore will be displaying some of his extensive collection of World War Two memorabilia, and there will be a talk by John McCann, author of Passing Through, which chronicled the 82nd Airborne’s time in Northern Ireland.
The evening on Thursday November 8 is free of charge. Doors open at 6pm.