In June 1941, a full six months before Pearl Harbor, the United States had secretly begun work on constructing a naval base on the Foyle. On February 5, 1942 orders from the Secretary of the Navy established ‘US Naval Operating Base Londonderry, Northern Ireland’ as part of the command of the Commander-in-Chief, US Atlantic Fleet. Prior to this, all US Navy activities in Derry functioned as ‘Advanced Destroyer Base One’.
The Naval Operating Base (NOB) consisted of the following areas and buildings, constructed or repaired by George A Fuller & Co, American engineers (under the title of Temporary Aviation Facilities or TAF) under the direction of the US Navy Civil Engineer Corps during the period 1941-42:
- Administration Building
- Repair Base
- Area N of Pennyburn Creek
- Lisahally Creek
- Beech Hill Areas
- Creevagh Area
- Fincarn Glen
- Springtown Area
- Aberfoyle House
- Talbot House
- O’Neill House at Magee College
- Clooney Park Radio Station
- Rossdowney Radio Station
The base was initially staffed with personnel from the Destroyer Repair Unit One at San Diego, California. The defence of US NOB Londonderry was provided by men from the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 133rd Infantry, 34th Division, US Army.
US NOB Londonderry remained the US Navy’s main centre of operations in Europe until after the Normandy landings in June 1944.
A museum room and woodland trail present-day Beech Hill Country House Hotel has been created to tell the story of the US Navy Bluejackets, Seabees and Marines who were based in Derry during WWII and their physical, cultural and personal legacy.