At the outbreak of the Second World War, hundreds of British troops from the Cheshire Regiment, Royal Irish Fusiliers and South Lancashire Regiment were stationed in Bangor. As no other suitable accommodation was available, they were billeted with local families until nearly 40 Nissen huts were built on the King George V Playing Fields.
After British troops had vacated the huts, American soldiers moved in early in 1944 as they prepared for D-Day in June that year. One of the GIs who stayed at the camp was the boxer Joe Louis. Known as the “Brown Bomber”, he was the World Heavyweight boxing champion between 1937 and 1949. He even had time to give a talk to local residents at the Drill Hall. He was beaten in 1951 by Rocky Marciano, who had also camped in Wales (in Swansea) before D-Day.
Soon after the Americans’ departure, Italian prisoners of war were billeted here. Six days a week the PoWs were taken by military vehicle to local farms where they worked on the land alongside farmers and members of the Women’s Land Army. In their spare time they created little gardens outside the huts and were popular in the local community, although some of the returning British soldiers and their families resented this fraternisation.
With thanks to Adrian Hughes, of the Home Front Museum, Llandudno