A white wedding dress made from parachute silk will be on display in the War Memorial on Saturday 19 June. The dress will be displayed on a mannequin of a GI bride as worn by a GI bride on her wedding day in 1944. Her veil and wedding photograph will also be on display, along with 1940s ephemera, including a petticoat made from parachute silk. Also on display will be an oyster satin wedding dress which was worn in 1942. Both dresses were worn by two of the 1,800 GI brides who set sail for the USA after the war. They met their husbands when the US forces were based in Northern Ireland between 1942 and 1944 preparing for operations in North Africa and Normandy.
Film extracts from newsreels about wartime weddings and the US troops in Northern Ireland will be shown on the large plasma screen. These activities are part of an exciting programme of military displays, 1940s dancing and other activities which will recreate life when the US troops were stationed here. The location is the War Memorial at 21 Talbot Street, beside Belfast Cathedral. Members of the Wartime Living History Association will be dressed in authentic US uniforms as worn in WW2.
They will lay on demonstrations of weapon handling, rifle drill, parachute jump training, combat maneuvers and much more. A jeep with (General Eisenhower) on board will tour the city centre to draw attention to the event. The 40s dance group (The Belle Hoppers) will entertain and teach the visitors and kids period dance throughout the day to the tunes of the 1940s. Kids activities will include learning rifle drill, a jump school and 40s dancing. Commenting on the event, the Chairman of the War Memorial, Lieutenant Colonel C T Hogg, said "This is an opportunity for people to see authentic wedding dresses from the 1940s which reflect the atmosphere generated by the presence of the GIs."
The event will be open to the public from 10.30am to 4.30pm. Visitors will be welcome to come in period costumes.