Portcities Southampton
UK * Bristol * Hartlepool * Liverpool * London * Southampton
You are here: PortCities Southampton > Southampton > Southampton at war > Americans in Southampton > The first Americans
* Text only * About this site * Site Map * Feedback
Explore this site
Start Here
About Us
Partners And Collections
Get Interactive!
Image galleries
The Docks
River Itchen
Southampton at war
Flying Boats
Finding Out More
Southampton speaks
Street Directories
Historic Buildings Survey
Registers and Records
Lloyd's Register
Official Sources
Other Records
Finding Out More
Wrecks and Accidents
Why accidents happen
Improving Safety at Sea
Finding Out More
Wreck Reports
Life of a Port
How a port comes to life
At work in a port
Ports at play
Trade - lifeblood of a port
Finding Out More
On the Line
Company growth and development
Shipping lines
Transatlantic travel
Preparing a liner
Finding Out More
Sea People
Life at sea
Jobs at sea
Travelling by sea
Starting a new life by sea
Women and the sea
Finding Out More
Diversity of Ships
The variety of ships
What drives the ship?
Ships of ancient times
Ships in the age of sail
Ships of the steam age
Ships of today

Americans in Southampton

The first Americans

[4643] Landing craft

magnify Landing craft

The story of American soldiers in Southampton began in July 1943 when a small transportation unit called  ‘The Fourteenth Port of the United States Army’ arrived in the city. Their task was to arrange the shipping and supply of equipment and troops. Initially this was as part of America’s ‘Lend-Lease’ arrangements to help equip their British Allies. ‘Lend-Lease’ was a scheme that allowed America to make loans of armaments to countries essential to American defence, possibly without repayment.

What greeted them was a port that had suffered a lot of damage and had been left to decline. Before 1939 Southampton was not a significant cargo port, its main focus had been passenger liners. Being so close to enemy airfields in northern France, Southampton was a natural target and had suffered many heavy wartime bombing raids. The operation of the port had been wound down to such an extent that much of its equipment and also registered dockworkers had been moved to other regions. As a 'Reserved Occupation', experienced dockworkers were in short supply and the machinary was too valuable to be left to the German airforce. Fortunately the Fourteenth Port brought with them their own equipment such as ready-made cranes and forklift trucks. These were new to England and the novelty posed too much of a temptation to some Southampton residents and some cases of 'forklift joyriding' were reported. 

[3177] Bombed cold store

magnify Dockside bomb damage

The process of re-awakening the Port of Southampton began and in the first months after their arrival, the Fourteenth Port moved such a large amount of military cargo that Southampton became the third largest discharge (importing) port in the world. Perhaps Southampton would never have thrived as a successful cargo port after the war if it hadn't been for this chance to show what it was capable of.


Advanced Search
Southampton City Council New Opportunities Fund Lloyd's Register London Metropolitan Archives National Maritime Museum World Ship Society  
Legal & Copyright * Partner sites: Bristol * Hartlepool * Liverpool * London * Southampton * Text only * About this site * Feedback