Lisnabreeny American Cemetery, Rocky Road, Belfast, Co. Antrim

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

Co. Antrim

BT8 6SA

United Kingdom

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.

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. 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, five 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 World War Two, the following men's graves were at the Lisnabreeny American Cemetery, Belfast, Co. Antrim.

Last NameFirst Name(s)Rank
AgneseMario J
AhernsFrederick C2nd Lieutenant
AllenRobert N2nd Lieutenant
AndertonJames CCorporal
AyersRichard I1st Lieutenant
BacaJose BPrivate
BakerRaymond APrivate
BakerDonald HCorporal
BartonFred A1st Lieutenant
BeallHenri IMajor
BeckwithHenry ESeaman 1st Class
BeigelGeorge APrivate
BelliniAnthonySergeant
BleserDaniel B1st Lieutenant
BonnettHarry PStaff Sergeant
BradfordErnest A (Jr)Technician 5th Grade
BrewerWilbur DStaff Sergeant
BrooksLester BF/Q
BrossardFrederick V2nd Lieutenant
CannonRiley WCorporal
CappeRoy R (Jr)Staff Sergeant
ChristianEdward EPrivate
CombsWilliam DTechnical Sergeant
ConleyEverettPrivate
CourvilleOvis PStaff Sergeant
CreechBurl L1st Lieutenant
CusterClyde R2nd Lieutenant
de StefanoAnthony J2nd Lieutenant
DemeryWallace JPrivate
DevenneyWilliam JSergeant
DevilblissJoseph2nd Lieutenant
de SaverioJacinth G1st Lieutenant
DorringtonRonald B1st Lieutenant
DowellBillie VPrivate
DundonLawrence EStaff Sergeant
ElkinsWilliam C (Jr)Private
ElliottThomas WPrivate
EmbryWarren HTechnician 5th Grade
EricksonHans CStaff Sergeant
ErvinIvan A2nd Lieutenant
EstesHenry FPrivate 1st Class
FellinStevePrivate
FilipponeVincent PStaff Sergeant
FisherPatrick AStaff Sergeant
FoughtNelson APrivate
FraneyJosephTechnician 4th Grade
GermerHenry LSergeant
GibsonJohn NCorporal
GilsonRobert DStaff Sergeant
GoodinLawrence E2nd Lieutenant
GooldyMilton EPrivate First Class
GravesRobert L (Jr)Sergeant
GrundstromEdwin A
GyovaiJimmieSergeant
HamblinJustin CPrivate
HarrisonGilbert (Jr)Private First Class
HelblingRalph RPrivate
HelmsMosesPrivate
HibblerHoward ASergeant
HillAlgie M2nd Lieutenant
HillHoward ACorporal
HillArthur D (Jr)Technician 4th Grade
HolstlawWesley TStaff Sergeant
HughesLee RPrivate
HummelJohn WPrivate
JacksonRaymond CPrivate
JenkinsWilliam CPrivate First Class
JohnsClyde REnsign
JohnsWilliam EPrivate First Class
JohnstonSturling TSeaman 1st Class
JordanPhilip LTechnician 5th Grade
JosephSamuel FSergeant
JoslynLeonard LTechnician 5th Grade
JostDaniel MStaff Sergeant
KeenanJames PTechnician 4th Grade
KistRobert A2nd Lieutenant
KleinJackPrivate
KnapAlfred JSergeant
KoebelLeonard L2nd Lieutenant
la TorreSilvester DCorporal
LabrieFred WCorporal
LasselleDaleCaptain
LemmiAlbanoCorporal
LennoxWalter1st Lieutenant
LynchHoward BCaptain
MaestasCarlos FSergeant
MagnettaLouis JPrivate
MazzoneJohn AF2
McClellanEstel RMachinist's Mate 3rd Class
McGillEdward EStaff Sergeant
McGraneLawrence RCorporal
McKenzieLeighton BFlight Officer
McKenzieHarris ETechnical Sergeant
McKiewiczJJ
McLaughlinBernardSergeant
McLeanJohn A1st Lieutenant
MeasomRex JPrivate
MillerOrvilleConstruction mechanic 3rd Class
MontgomeryHerbert EPrivate
MorozMichaelPrivate
MurphyJeremiah CFlight Officer
MurphyFrancis ACaptain
MurrayWilbur LPrivate
MyersLuther SSeaman 1st Class
NayMack MPrivate
NobilioneJoseph V2nd Lieutenant
OmleyKenneth TMajor
OsborneHowell C (Jr)2nd Lieutenant
PappasGeorge SPrivate
PardyJames G (Jr)Private
PerkinsEarl ErvinCorporal
PerryWendellPrivate First Class
PetkeArthur HPrivate
PinkowskiEdward SPrivate First Class
PotterJosephTechnician 4th Grade
RobersonJesse BStaff Sergeant
RosenbergHarry JMaster Sergeant
RoyerTravis EPrivate First Class
ScharfJohn L2nd Lieutenant
ScharffSampson1st Lieutenant
SchuchardtElmer ESeaman 2nd Class
SchwartzArthur ASergeant
SeitzFrank M (Jr)Sergeant
ShafferRalph V2nd Lieutenant
SharpeEarl L2nd Lieutenant
SmithFloyd2nd Lieutenant
StaatsHarold JPrivate
StrouseJohn APrivate First Class
StuartJoseph AColonel
SyronJames F (Jr)Corporal
TaylorJesse TPrivate
TaylorRobert KPrivate First Class
TerryDanPrivate
ThomasLloyd JStaff Sergeant
ThorntonAlbert DFire Controlman 1st Class
TownsendRichard E1st Lieutenant
TurnerChester M2nd Lieutenant
VaughanRobert JSergeant
VereenHartfordLieutenant Colonel
WanamakerMervin APrivate
WassellGeorge CCaptain
WetzelRussell ASergeant
WilkersonJames APrivate
WilliamsonCharles EPrivate
WoodmanGeorge C1st Lieutenant
WooldridgeJohn PPrivate First Class
YoungGlenn R1st Lieutenant
Sergeant William Joseph Devenney

William Joseph Devenney

Sergeant | 33367015

US Army Sergeant William Joseph Devenney was a radio operator on board a B26 Marauder, which crashed on Chimney Rock Mountain, Co. Down on 10th April 1944.

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

Corporal Earl Ervin Perkins served in the US Army. He died while on active service in Northern Ireland, fatally shot during a rifle cleaning exercise.