The killing of Private William C. Jenkins in Antrim, Co. Antrim

On 30th September 1942, a racially motivated attack took place between segregated elements of the United States Army in Antrim, Co. Antrim.

On 30th September 1942, the town of Antrim was the scene of a violent clash between members of the United States Military's segregated units. Black troops involved were from 28th Quartermaster Truck Regiment while some of the white troops were members of the Military Police.

The men of 28th Quartermaster Truck Regiment were watching a movie at the Lough Road Camp, Antrim, Co. Antrim when word came through that one of their soldiers was the victim of an attack in the town. On top of that, authorities had detained 3 other members of their unit including a Staff Sergeant.

Enraged by what seemed to be a racially motivated attack, Private George McDaniels and others from G Company, 28th Quartermaster Truck Regiment headed towards the town. Armed with weapons from a Nissen Hut ammunition room on the camp, they set off to confront the Military Police and release their Staff Sergeant.

On the way, they encountered a group of white American soldiers returning from a dance accompanied by local women. At the resulting Court Martial, Corporal Theodore B. Janusz testified that he was returning to his camp after the dance. He then stated 20 black soldiers called him over as he neared a bridge. Janusz claimed a soldier knocked him to the ground with a rifle butt before he ran in fear for his life.

Private George McDaniels fired 2 shots at the running Janusz, hitting him once in the side. As a result of the Court Martial, authorities sentenced McDaniels to a dishonourable discharge, forfeiture of all pay, and 5 years’ imprisonment.

Several shots were fired before the disorder was ended. One soldier was killed, the victim of knife wounds. Another soldier was seriously wounded. No civilians were wounded.

Headquarters of the United States Army in Northern Ireland.

The New York Times reported that a black soldier died as a result of a stab wound, while a white soldier survived with serious gunshot injuries. Other records suggest a member of the Military Police handcuffed the black soldier Private William C. Jenkins to railings in the town. He was then shot. Official statements from the time and subsequent newspaper coverage maintain the fact that Private William C. Jenkins sustained knife wounds. A Military Police Sergeant stood near the body when Jenkins’ Commanding Officer arrived at the scene.

The United States Army sent their first African American General Benjamin O. Davis to Northern Ireland following the attack. His report underplayed racial tensions and potential motives behind the attack. The incident prompted much talk about segregation within the United States Army but ultimately, the fate of Private William C. Jenkins was all but forgotten and no one stood trial for his murder.