Lisnabreeny American Cemetery, Rocky Road, Belfast

Lisnabreeny in the Castlereagh Hills once was the site of an American Military Cemetery in Belfast. 148 servicemen were buried there between 1943 and 1948.

Lisnabreeny American Cemetery

Rocky Road

Belfast

BT8 6SA

Northern Ireland

On 9th December 1941, the US Army Special Observer Group requested ground in the UK. They required the land for the emergency burial of troops who died overseas. The War Office in London granted their request. Soon, the cities of Belfast and Londonderry both held American Military Cemeteries.

Members of the US Navy became the first American servicemen interred in Northern Ireland. Those first men died as a result of an accident at a nearby American Navy base. The original burial ground for US troops in Belfast was a 1/6th of an acre plot in Belfast City Cemetery. This was in use from 12th March 1942 until 7th October 1942 by which time it had already reached capacity.

Funeral of Private Steve Fellin at Lisnabreeny.

The funeral of Private Steve Fellin (32162876) at Lisnabreeny. Private Fellin of 56th Field Artillery Batallion, 8th Infantry Division was killed on 3rd May 1944. The grave on the left belongs to Sergeant William J Devenney, one of the crew of B26 41-18150. Photo taken on 6th May 1944.

The Lisnabreeny American Cemetery in Castlereagh occupied a 10.5 acre site. After Belfast City Cemetery reached capacity, the new site opened in December 1943. Lisnabreeny was the final resting place for a total of 148 men. Eight servicemen were unknown and laid in unmarked graves. 41 others were men reburied from Belfast City Cemetery between 23rd May and 1st June 1944.

Lisnabreeny at the end of the war.

The gun battery on Rocky Road has gone but the Lisnabreeny American Military Cemetery is still visible in this photo from the late 1940s. Copyright Unknown.

The American Cemetery at Lisnabreeny

Access to the cemetery was through a red brick entrance with cast iron gates that still stand today. A white gravel path lined with cherry trees lead to a mast where the Stars and Stripes was daily hoisted.

Graves lay in rows of 25 with crosses and Stars of David marking religious affiliation. Name, rank, and date of death marked each gravestone.

In 1948, the US Government exhumed and repatriated all men buried at Lisnabreeny. Reburial took place in each man’s hometown or at the American Cemetery in Cambridge, UK. The site closed down and the US military decommissioned Lisnabreeny later the same year.

Although most men at Lisnabreeny came from the US Air Force, there were also men from the Army and Navy. The causes of death ranged from aviation accidents to training casualties. Some even died in road traffic collisions or of natural causes.

At any given time, 5 American military personnel tended the Lisnabreeny cemetery. Two men were on duty at all times. The cemetery was always well cared for, grass mown and the stone path whitewashed. The cemetery records and maintenance equipment remained in a Nissen hut on site.

Recognition of the Military Cemetery

On 8th May 2005, the Castlereagh Borough Council recognised the site and its importance. Councillor Joanne Bunting, Mayor of Castlereagh presided over a service of dedication. The US Consul General and visiting dignitaries attended the ceremony.

A plaque erected in 2005 provided a lasting reminder of the site’s history. The words ‘Lisnabreeny Former American Military Cemetery 1943-1948’ marked the red-brick pillars. The same pillars provided the entrance way to the cemetery in the 1940s.

A memorial stone and a poppy wreath showed the burial place of the 148 servicemen. A nearby park bench offered stunning views over Belfast and a place for contemplation.

The wording on the memorial stone is as follows:

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.

Lisnabreeny in 2012

A memorial garden at Lisnabreeny

In 2013, the council unveiled a new memorial garden on the former cemetery site. The centrepiece is a granite monument bearing the names of the 148 men on three sides. The rock from the Mourne Mountains is a permanent reminder of the American sacrifice. On selected days, the Stars and Stripes will once again fly from a mast on the hill overlooking the city.

Over the last few years, the Council has been involved in an extensive restoration project to reinstate the original entrance to the former Lisnabreeny American Military Cemetery and create a lasting commemoration to the American servicemen who lost their lives in the Second World War.

Councillor David Drysdale – Mayor of Castlereagh, Belfast, 2013

Mayor of Castlereagh, Councillor David Drysdale lead the ceremony. In attendance was Northern Ireland’s First Minster Peter Robinson. David Lindsay, Lord Lieutenant of County Down and acting US Consul General Gabrielle Moseley joined members of the Royal British Legion and the National Trust. A short parade made its way to the cemetery site from nearby Lagan College. The pipes and drums of the 152nd Ulster Transport Regiment, Royal Logistics Corps echoed through the hills.

The sculpture will provide an opportunity for the people of Castlereagh to visit the site for generations to come and learn more about these brave servicemen who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom today.

Councillor David Drysdale – Mayor of Castlereagh, Belfast, 2013

Pastor George Moffatt, the Mayor’s Chaplain, held a short service of dedication. Lieutenant Colonel Travis Philips, Assistant Army Attache at the US Embassy in London, expressed thanks to the council. He read the poem ‘His Rest Is Won’ before Donaghadee Male Voice Choir performed a medley of American military tunes. Air Vice-Marshall David Niven laid a wreath on behalf of the Royal Air Force. The ceremony closed after a fly-past from B17 bomber – The Sally B on its way to a flight festival in Dublin.

I am proud to be asked to place a wreath, on behalf of all three Services, at this dedication ceremony. We are, in mid-September, 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.

Air Vice-Marshall David Niven, Royal Air Force, Belfast, 2013

Lisnabreeny in 2014

Visit the American cemetery site

You can visit the memorial in the Castlereagh hills throughout the year. The former American military cemetery at Lisnabreeny is now a focal point for tourists. It features on the National Trust walk from Cregagh Glen to the neolithic Lisnabreeny rath.

The sacrifice of our American allies, commemorated in granite and standing proud in the rolling Castereagh hills, shall never be forgotten.

Air Vice-Marshall David Niven, Royal Air Force, Belfast, 2013

Grave of Corporal John Gibson who died on B17 41-24451

A woman tends the grave of Corporal John "Jack" Gibson who was killed when B17 41-24451 crashed on Slieveanorra on 3rd October 1942. Photo taken at Lisnabreeny American Cemetery, Castlereagh, Belfast and published in Duluth News Tribune. Copyright unknown.

American Servicemen at Lisnabreeny

During the course of the Second World War, the following men's graves were at the Lisnabreeny American Cemetery, Belfast.

Last Name First Name(s) Rank
Agnese Mario J
Aherns Frederick C 2nd Lieutenant
Allen Robert N 2nd Lieutenant
Anderton James C Corporal
Ayers Richard I 1st Lieutenant
Baca Jose B Private
Baker Raymond A Private
Baker Donald H Corporal
Barton Fred A 1st Lieutenant
Beall Henri I Major
Beckwith Henry E Seaman 1st Class
Beigel George A Private
Bellini Anthony Sergeant
Bleser Daniel B 1st Lieutenant
Bonnett Harry P Staff Sergeant
Bradford Ernest A (Jr) Technician 5th Grade
Brewer Wilbur D Staff Sergeant
Brooks Lester B F/Q
Brossard Frederick V 2nd Lieutenant
Cannon Riley W Corporal
Cappe Roy R (Jr) Staff Sergeant
Christian Edward E Private
Combs William D Technical Sergeant
Conley Everett Private
Courville Ovis P Staff Sergeant
Creech Burl L 1st Lieutenant
Custer Clyde R 2nd Lieutenant
de Stefano Anthony J 2nd Lieutenant
Demery Wallace J Private
Devenney William J Sergeant
Devilbliss Joseph 2nd Lieutenant
de Saverio Jacinth G 1st Lieutenant
Dorrington Ronald B 1st Lieutenant
Dowell Billie V Private
Dundon Lawrence E Staff Sergeant
Elkins William C (Jr) Private
Elliott Thomas W Private
Embry Warren H Technician 5th Grade
Erickson Hans C Staff Sergeant
Ervin Ivan A 2nd Lieutenant
Estes Henry F Private 1st Class
Fellin Steve Private
Filippone Vincent P Staff Sergeant
Fisher Patrick A Staff Sergeant
Fought Nelson A Private
Franey Joseph Technician 4th Grade
Germer Henry L Sergeant
Gibson John N Corporal
Gilson Robert D Staff Sergeant
Goodin Lawrence E 2nd Lieutenant
Gooldy Milton E Private First Class
Graves Robert L (Jr) Sergeant
Grundstrom Edwin A
Gyovai Jimmie Sergeant
Hamblin Justin C Private
Harrison Gilbert (Jr) Private First Class
Helbling Ralph R Private
Helms Moses Private
Hibbler Howard A Sergeant
Hill Algie M 2nd Lieutenant
Hill Howard A Corporal
Hill Arthur D (Jr) Technician 4th Grade
Holstlaw Wesley T Staff Sergeant
Hughes Lee R Private
Hummel John W Private
Jackson Raymond C Private
Jenkins William C Private First Class
Johns Clyde R Ensign
Johns William E Private First Class
Johnston Sturling T Seaman 1st Class
Jordan Philip L Technician 5th Grade
Joseph Samuel F Sergeant
Joslyn Leonard L Technician 5th Grade
Jost Daniel M Staff Sergeant
Keenan James P Technician 4th Grade
Kist Robert A 2nd Lieutenant
Klein Jack Private
Knap Alfred J Sergeant
Koebel Leonard L 2nd Lieutenant
la Torre Silvester D Corporal
Labrie Fred W Corporal
Lasselle Dale Captain
Lemmi Albano Corporal
Lennox Walter 1st Lieutenant
Lynch Howard B Captain
Maestas Carlos F Sergeant
Magnetta Louis J Private
Mazzone John A F2
McClellan Estel R Machinist's Mate 3rd Class
McGill Edward E Staff Sergeant
McGrane Lawrence R Corporal
McKenzie Leighton B Flight Officer
McKenzie Harris E Technical Sergeant
McKiewicz JJ
McLaughlin Bernard Sergeant
McLean John A 1st Lieutenant
Measom Rex J Private
Miller Orville Construction mechanic 3rd Class
Montgomery Herbert E Private
Moroz Michael Private
Murphy Jeremiah C Flight Officer
Murphy Francis A Captain
Murray Wilbur L Private
Myers Luther S Seaman 1st Class
Nay Mack M Private
Nobilione Joseph V 2nd Lieutenant
Omley Kenneth T Major
Osborne Howell C (Jr) 2nd Lieutenant
Pappas George S Private
Pardy James G (Jr) Private
Perkins Earl Ervin Corporal
Perry Wendell Private First Class
Petke Arthur H Private
Pinkowski Edward S Private First Class
Potter Joseph Technician 4th Grade
Roberson Jesse B Staff Sergeant
Rosenberg Harry J Master Sergeant
Royer Travis E Private First Class
Scharf John L 2nd Lieutenant
Scharff Sampson 1st Lieutenant
Schuchardt Elmer E Seaman 2nd Class
Schwartz Arthur A Sergeant
Seitz Frank M (Jr) Sergeant
Shaffer Ralph V 2nd Lieutenant
Sharpe Earl L 2nd Lieutenant
Smith Floyd 2nd Lieutenant
Staats Harold J Private
Strouse John A Private First Class
Stuart Joseph A Colonel
Syron James F (Jr) Corporal
Taylor Jesse T Private
Taylor Robert K Private First Class
Terry Dan Private
Thomas Lloyd J Staff Sergeant
Thornton Albert D Fire Controlman 1st Class
Townsend Richard E 1st Lieutenant
Turner Chester M 2nd Lieutenant
Vaughan Robert J Sergeant
Vereen Hartford Lieutenant Colonel
Wanamaker Mervin A Private
Wassell George C Captain
Wetzel Russell A Sergeant
Wilkerson James A Private
Williamson Charles E Private
Woodman George C 1st Lieutenant
Wooldridge John P Private First Class
Young Glenn R 1st Lieutenant
Sergeant William Joseph Devenney

William Joseph Devenney

Sergeant | 33367015

Sergeant William Joseph Devenney of Pennsylvania died on 10th April 1944 when the B26 Marauder "Winnie Dee" crashed on Chimney Rock Mountain, Co. Down.

John Gibson

Corporal

Corporal John Gibson of Duluth, Minnesota died on 3rd October 1942 when USAAF B17 bomber 41-24451 came down on Slieveanorra Mountain, Co. Antrim.

Dale Lasselle at Football Training

Dale Lasselle

Captain | 0362264

Captain Dale Lasselle of Portland, Oregon died on 3rd October 1942 when USAAF B17 bomber 41-24451 came down on Slieveanorra Mountain, Co. Antrim.

John A McLean

1st Lieutenant | 0435967

1st Lieutenant John A McLean died on 3rd October 1942 when USAAF B17 bomber 41-24451 came down on Slieveanorra Mountain, Co. Antrim on a ferry flight.

Earl Ervin Perkins

Corporal

On 7th March 1942, Corporal Earl Ervin Perkins was the first serving member of the United States Army to die on European soil during the Second World War.