Hidden in the hills just outside Belfast at Lisnabreeny, stands a memorial to 148 American servicemen who died in Northern Ireland during World War Two. This is a former American military cemetery – the resting place for US servicemen between 1943 and 1945.
American troops were first deployed in Northern Ireland in January 1942. The number reached a peak of 120,000 in June 1944, and by the time the war ended in 1945, around 300,000 US personnel were stationed or had passed through Northern Ireland. The dead included members of the US Army and Navy, but most were members of the Air Forces. They had died from natural causes, road traffic accidents, or during training, and about 40 men died in Air Accidents.The identities of eight servicemen who were buried here, remain unknown.
Before this cemetery was opened in December 1943, American troops who died on duty in Northern Ireland were buried in cemeteries in Belfast and Londonderry. Their remains were then transferred to this cemetery at Lisnabreeny in 1943, and it became the only burial place for American military personnel in Ireland until it closed in 1948. The remains of those who were not repatriated to the US at their families request now lie in Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial, England.
The townland of Lisnabreeny is in the Castlereagh Hills, 170 metres above sea level. It’s just a few miles southeast of Belfast, which can be seen in the distance, along with the Belfast Hills.
This granite monument with the names of the 148 men inscribed on three sides, was unveiled by the local council in 2013 as part of a new memorial garden on the former cemetery site. It was constructed as a permanent reminder of the American sacrifice on Northern Ireland soil during WW2.
The monument was unveiled by the local council in 2013 as part of a new memorial garden on the former cemetery site. It was constructed as a permanent reminder of the American sacrifice on Northern Ireland soil during WW2. At the dedication service, Air Vice-Marshall David Niven stated, “We are commemorating the service and sacrifice of our servicemen during the Battle of Britain; a battle which prevented the invasion of the United Kingdom. We are also remembering, at the Service of Dedication of this cemetery, the sacrifice of our American Allies who served and died, here, in Northern Ireland. They came from the United States to fight alongside us, in our hour of need, when the rest of Europe had been overrun by the Nazi war machine.”