Appeal to trace story of US war veteran buried in Magheralin

The grave of Private First Class Charles Furman Blanton.
The grave of Private First Class Charles Furman Blanton.

A World War II historian is appealing for help in tracing the history of an American soldier buried in Magheralin.

Andy Glenfield’s hobby is to research, visit and photograph places throughout Northern Ireland.

He is hoping ‘MAIL’ readers may be able to help him in completing the story of Private First Class Charles Furman Blanton.

Andy runs the website “The Second World War in Northern Ireland” - http://www.ww2ni.webs.com - where he collates his research for public view.

He explained: “The purpose of my website is to show that Northern Ireland played a major part in the Second World War and that much remains to be seen.

“People think of WWII and look to some ‘Far Off Field’ when there is actually much to be seen in the fields around Lurgan!

“Some time ago I had visited the Gate Lodge of Kircassock House and was passing through Magheralin when I decide to stop at the church graveyard.

“I was amazed to find the headstone of an American Serviceman - Charles Furman Blanton who was born on 25th December, 1906, and died on 16th December, 1975.

“His headstone shows that he was a Private First Class in the United States Army during the Second World War.

“I expect that PFC Blanton arrived in Northern Ireland some time between 1942 and 1944 and may have fell in love with a local girl before departing with all the other Armed Forces to take part in the invasion of Occupied Europe and the beginning of the end of WWII.

“Most pleasing is that he both survived the war and returned, not to the United States, but Magheralin.

“I would like very much to learn more about PFC Blanton, the US Army Unit he served with and how he came to settle in Northern Ireland.

“I ask that anyone who can help with any information relating to this ‘GI’ please contact me at ww2ni@btinternet.com”

During the Second World War Kircassock House, Magheralin, became the headquarters of the 8th United States Air Force Composite Command from November 1942 incorporating the 496th Fighter Training Group. It is believed that both Winston Churchill and General Eisenhower stayed at the house when visiting personnel in Northern Ireland.

Graffiti left by soldiers on guard duty at the Gate Lodge can still be seen, although weathered by time.