Lisnabreeny American Military Cemetery 1943-1948
In 2005 Castlereagh Borough Council placed a plaque at the site of the former American Military Cemetery. The plaque contains the following information.
“The US Army special Observer group approached the war office in London on the 9th December 1941 to obtain burial grounds for American Forces in the United 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 Cemetery 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 the City Cemetery plot took place on the 12th March 1942. From the 12th March 1942 to the 7th October 1942 a total of 41 American Service men were interned in the City Cemetery plot. At that stage the plot had reached it’s capacity and it was decided to ship deceased personnel across to England for internment till an alternative could be found.
On the 2nd December 1943 a ten and a half acre plot of land at Rocky Road was officially 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 previously interned in the City Cemetery were exhumed and reinterned at Lisnabreeny. By the end of the war a total of 148 American Servicemen were buried in Lisnabreeny American Cemetery the majority of the number being Army Air force but including the US Army and US Navy personnel too.
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 a Star of David depending on religious domination bearing name rank and date of death.
The cemetery was looked after by five U.S personnel with the minimum of two on duty at anyone time. A Nissan type hut was located at the site to provide storage for official space for maintenance equipment and cemetery records.
The cemetery was maintained to a very high standard with grass regularly mown, trees and shrubs clipped and pruned and the stone path boarder whitewashed weekly. Following the end of the war the cemetery continued to be maintained right up onto 1948 when all the deceased were exhumed and either transferred to the permanent American War Cemetery in Cambridge or repatriated to the United States at the request of their families. At this point the cemetery was deactivated and all now that remained to indicate it was once there is the red brick gateway on the Rocky Road.
On the 8th May 2005 Castlereagh Borough Council formally recognised the site with the 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.”
The photograph below was taken at Lisnabreeny Cemetery on the 6th May 1944. It shows the funeral of Private Steve Fellin, US Army No. 32162876, 56th Field Artillery Bn, 8th Infantry Division who died on the 3rd May 1944. The grave on the left of the picture No8 is dated 10th April 1944 and belonged to one of the crew of B26 41-18150. Thanks to William Lindsay I have been able to confirm that this is in fact Sgt William J Devenney's grave.
Lisnabreeny Cemetery 6th May 1944
Photograph supplied by "After The Battle" magazine issue 34
"The G.I's in Northern Ireland"
In 2012 Castlereagh Bourogh Council decided that a proper memorial should be constructed on the site of the former cemetery. In spring 2013 a memorial garden was completed at the entrance of Lisnabreeny. As you can see in the photograph the garden contains a memorial stone with the names of all the American personnel temporarily buried in the cemetery between 1943 and 1948. The garden also has a Flag Staff on which the Stars and Stripes will be raised on certain days of the year. A fitting memorial.