During World War II, the historic County Antrim town of Carrickfergus became a focal point when the United States decided to enter the war. Basecamps were established across Northern Ireland. Over 300,000 American troops were posted in Northern Ireland in areas such as Ballycastle, Ballymena, and Carrickfergus. In Carrickfergus, a Ranger Battalion was based in the Sunnylands area, just north of the railway line and covered an area of four hectares.
The Ranger battalions were considered elite units of highly skilled and tough individuals. At the Sunnylands Base Camp, recruits underwent the selection process for the unit. Around 600 out of the 1,500 troops that participated managed to pass the tests.
However, over 80 percent of the 600 selected came from the 34th Infantry Division commanded by Major William Orlando Darby. He later commanded the 1st Ranger Battalion activated in Northern Ireland at Sunnylands Base Camp and dubed “Darby’s Rangers”.
The U.S. Rangers made such an impact on the people and the town that they commemorated a stone to their honor. In 1994 during a 50th-anniversary commemoration event, visiting Ranger veterans donated memorabilia that now forms part of the Andrew Jackson and Rangers Museum in the town.
Know Before You Go
The Carrickfergus Rangers Stone is located within a five-minute walk of the town center and the Carrickfergus Train Station. Located at the entrance to the Sunnylands Estate, along North Road and opposite the Carrickfergus Rangers Supporters Club.