John Doran

Red’s memoirs chart his time in the army, merchant navy and his travels

John ’Red’ Doran was born in Derry is 1930. He was educated by the Christian Brothers and at Derry Technical College before working in shoe repair. Doran then served briefly in the Irish Army before they discovered he’d been somewhat liberal about his age.

At 18 he joined the Cunard Company of the Merchant Navy before settling with his wife Agnes in America. Whilst in Los Angelos Doran worked in Dean Martin’s famous Deano’s Lodge. He returned to Derry where he worked in Du Pont and in the catering department of St Columb’s College. Red now spends his retirement keeping bees and breeding horses.

'This all leads me to the first day the American marines came to Ireland. Wherever they came from I don’t know but all of a sudden there was a convoy of trucks (it used to be ‘lorries’ but the yanks changed that to ‘trucks’) full of marines dressed in - you’ll never guess - green.

'Now, this was the colour of the Free State troops but the similarity stopped there. While the Free State uniform was of rough woollen material, the yanks wore tailored gaberdine. At the time people could only see green, so as they made their way down Duke Street and up Bond’s Hill to the barracks, many thought we had been invaded by Free State troops and they were met with some cheers.

'The cheering soon quietened when the big white star appeared on the side of the trucks. Many years later in America I met an old fellow who had been on that convoy and he regaled me with stories of his time in ‘Londonderry’. He talked too about the great welcome he got that day on his arrival but I hadn’t the heart to tell him the people thought it was the Free State troops come to liberate us.'  (Copyright John Doran)

Derry’s location is thought to have been pivotal in enabling the American military to win the war in the Atlantic. Red’s memoirs go on to chart his time spent in the Irish Army, the Merchant Navy and his years in America.