A Letter From Ulster

A Letter From Ulster

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including Tynan Abbey in County Armagh, Various






33min 08sec




35mm, nitrate film

black and white


National Film and Television Archive


COI (Film Images)

Rights Holder

Central Office of Information

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A 'story documentary' using actual locations and real soldiers, though its characters and story are fictional. A Letter From Ulster tells the story of two brothers - Don and Willy Carver - American G.I.'s who are told by their Colonel to write a 10-page letter home. Their letter - and discussion about its composition - becomes the source of the film's voice-over, as they comment upon their experiences since arriving in Northern Ireland.


Most of the cast were non-professionals, including the two soldiers in the lead roles - Sergeant Donald Prill and Private Walter Newffield. Although the film was distributed in Britain by MGM, it was primarily intended for audiences in America, where it was reportedly shown in 10,000 cinemas. On 26 January 1942, the first American troops stepped ashore at Belfast's Dufferin Quay, and by May the number of Americans had reached 37,000. In 1943 greater numbers arrived in readiness for the Normandy landings, reaching a peak of 120,000 (about one-tenth of the local population) by June 1944. American GI's stationed in Northern Ireland during World War Two became known as 'doughboys'.

Shot List

This film is a travelogue, set against the background of American troops stationed in Northern Ireland during World War Two. Two troops (also brothers) recall their experiences since landing in Ulster - arrival at camp, teaching baseball to local children, military maneouvres, an assault course and 48-hours on leave.


Producer - Shaun Terence Young; Director - Brian Desmond Hurst; Crown Film Unit: Photography - H E Fowler; Sound - Jack Moy; Unit Manager - Nora Dawson; Cutter - Donald Ginsberg; Made with the co-operation of the United States Forces in Britain.


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