Brownlow HQ The Story of US Troops in Lurgan during WW2
In December of 1941 America entered World War Two. A few weeks later, on January 26th 1942 the first contingent of the MAGNET force - about 4,000 troops - set foot on European soil, disembarking at Belfast marking the beginning of the USA's Europe an involvement. Hundreds of thousands followed with a US Army population of 120,000 based in Northern Ireland at its peak creating great excitement amongst the local population. Lough Neagh and its environs saw a great deal of activity during this period with many American and British bases and airfields dotted around the place. Brownlow House in Lurgan was at the centre of this activity having housed American headquarters on two occasions with its associated tactical troops located in the vicinity. Many secret operations were planned at Brownlow House before moving on to the European Theatre of Operations and playing an active role in Africa and later on in Normandy on D-Day.
In this brand new world class exhibition located in the basement of Brownlow House, where some original WW2 graffiti can still be seen, visitors will be a able to meet with a virtual GI in his Nissen Hut, spy on a top secret conversation, get the low down from the drill Sergeant, hear about the culture clashes, dances & love stories from the locals and learn about where the US troops came from and why they were based here in Northern Ireland.
As visitors enter Brownlow HQ they are presented with an overview of events that lead to the outbreak of World War II. A solid context is given to the exhibition with the aid of graphic panels, sound-scapes and a video screen that set the scene for an exciting visit.
An account of the effects of the war in Northern Ireland is told with the use of graphic panels. An animated projection also gives visitors an understanding of the strategic importance of Northern Ireland.
Informational panels, a video screen, physical artifacts and a realistic figure paint a detailed picture of the US forces' arrival to Northern Ireland. More detailed information about the Allied campaigns is also provided by British and American commanders along with an animated presentation and original footage on three synchronised interactive screens.
Learn about how US servicemen lived while they stayed in Northern Ireland and speak with a life sized projection of a GI inside his Nissen hut. Kids will love dressing up in the US Army costumes and visitors can find more information about where camps of various regiments were located on an interactive touchscreen map.
Speak with the Drill Inspector projection but beware he has a short fuse. He will explain about some of the weapons which are on display in the weapons cabinets. Visitors will get a good understanding of how US servicemen spent their days and nights on and off duty.
With such large numbers of US servicemen coming through Northern Ireland there was an inevitable impact on many areas of society. Find out what locals thought of their new guests and what changes they inspired, good and bad. A display cabinet also allows visitors to see some of the things servicemen gave to the locals as friendly gestures.
The American presence in Northern Ireland and their involvement in successful Allied campaigns left many lasting impressions. Interactive graphic audio panels tell visitors about the consequences of military success, lasting relations and physical evidence left behind (some original graffiti can also be found in the exhibition space)
Brownlow HQ is the perfect location for school tours as it has a fantastic volume of engaging information in multiple formats to keep younger generations entertained. It is also a must see for tourists who are passing through the area and of course there is a large amount of detailed information to keep the avid history enthusiast engaged. Visitors can also enjoy delicious food and drinks in the restaurant upstairs.
Update, Aug 18th 2015: The Brownlow HQ exhibition was officially opened by the new US Consul General Daniel Lawton last week-end. The launch was a huge success and saw visitors flock in number to preview the brand new attraction at Brownlow House. Two very special guests were also be in attendance - a veteran who served with the US Troops and one with the RAF during World War II. Pictured here are the building contractors, architects, three members of the Mirador Media design and fit out team & council staff.
"Kriterion Conservation Architects' experience working in collaboration with MMID / Mirador Ltd on the very interesting Brownlow House exhibition project was both positive and successful. Marc's involvement was professional and mannerly. He was proactive in meetings, and information required for co-ordination and integration of services was efficient and timely, leading to a high quality project, delivered on time." Neil Moore, RIBA, SCA, MAPM Kriterion Conservation Architects An associate practice of Hamilton Architects, Belfast