Lisnabreeny American Military Cemetery 1943-1948
In 1941 the US Amry Special Observer group approached thw War Office in London to obtain burial grounds for American Forces in the Unitied Kingdom. Two plots were initially set aside for emergency burial in Northern Ireland one in Londonderry and the other in Belfast. The Belfast plot located in the City Cemtery extending to one sixth of an acre was chosen. The first American servicemen to die in Northern Ireland were three members of the US Navy who lost their lives in an accident at the American Naval base in Londonderry.
The first burial in N. Ireland was Corporal Earl E Perkins in the City Cemetery plot on the 12th March 1942. From the 12th March 1942 to the 7th October 1942 a total of 41 American Servicemen were interned in the City Cemetery pllot. At this stage the plot had reached its capacity and it was decided to ship deceased personnel across to England for internment until an alternative location could be found.
On the 2nd December 1943 a ten and a half acre plot of land at Rocky Road, Belfast was offically opened as Lisnabreeny American Military cemetery. It was decided to relocate all the deceased personnel to this new site.
Between the 23rd May 1944 and the 1st June 1944 all of the forty-one bodies perviously interned in the City Cemtery were exhumed and reinterned at Lisnabreeny. By the end of the war a total of 148 service personnel were buried at Lisnabreeny the majority being Army Air Force but also including US Army and US Navy personnel, along with one civilian Edwin Grundstrom a ferry pilot attached to the British Air Transport Auxilliary. Most deaths were the result of flying accidents, others were training accidents involving landmines or firearms, some personnel succummed to infections like Pleurisy, blood poisioning or meningitis, others lost their lives in road traffic accidents, one was killed in a hit and run accident near Tyrella Beach another murdered in Antrim.
The cemetery was accessed by a red brick entrance with iron gates on the Rocky Road. A white gravel driveway lined with Cherry trees lead to a Flagstaff with Stars and Stripes hoisted daily. The graves were laid out in rows with twenty-five to each row and each grave had a simple white mark either a cross or Star of David depending on religious domination bearing rank and date of death. The cemetery was looked after by five US personnel with the minimum of two on duty at anyone time. A Nissan type hut was located at the site to provide storage for maintance euipment and cemetery records.
The cemetery was maintained to a very high standard with grass regulary mown, trees and shrubs clipped, pruned and the stone boarder whitewashed weekly. Following the end of the war the cemtery continued to be maintained right up onto 1948 when all the deceased had been exhumed and either transfered to the permanent American cemetery at Madingley, Cambridge or repatriated to the Unitied States. At this point the cemetery was deactivated and all that remained to indicate it was there was the red brick gateway on the Rocky Road.
On the 8th May 2005 Castlereagh Borough Council formally recognised the site with the Lord Mayor of Castlereagh Councillor Joanne Bunting presiding over a service of dedication, which was attended by the US Consul Generate, members of Castlereagh Borough Council and invited dignitaries.
Lisnabreeny 6/5/44, burial of Pvt Steve Fellin, US Army, 56th Field Artillery Bn, 8th Infantry Division.
(Photograph supplied by "After The Battle" magazine, issue 34 "The GI's In Northern Ireland")
Aerial photo of the cemetery 1940's
Lisnabreeny American Military Cemetery 2023