US Memorial Day
Yesterday (25th May) marked Memorial Day in the US, which seeks to commemorate all those men and women who have died in military service for the United States. The value of America’s help during the Second World War cannot be overstated, whether through lend-lease or direct support from 1942 onwards. Indeed, many of those US soldiers who unfortunately died, spent time in Northern Ireland during the war with over 150,000 US military personnel stationed here over the course of the war.
While stationed here there were 148 American military personnel who died and were subsequently buried in the Castlereagh Hills at the Lisnabreeny American Military Cemetery. Their causes of death ranged from aviation/road traffic accidents to training causalities and indeed 148 men were buried there before being exhumed and repatriated in 1948.
One of our Oral History interviewees, Pat Archer (W&M48) lived near Lisnabreeny and was aged 6 in 1948, she remembers the day that these soldiers were being exhumed. ‘I was quite small but I distinctly remember walking with my mother… there was a whole lot of things in the graveyard, I can even visualise it now, so I says… “What’s happening? What are all the people doing in there?” She said to me, “They are actually digging up the graves and returning the bodies to America’, you can appreciate that as a child I kind of went “Oh!”… But my mother being the very wise woman that she was, I can remember her saying to me “If you were dead in another country, I would want to have you home”.
Now, although the bodies of those who died have been returned to America long ago, a stone obelisk inscribed with the names of the 140 identified US soldiers, two stone benches and flagstaff stand marking the site. So today, perhaps take a moment to remember those 148 US soldiers who died in Northern Ireland, as well as the countless others who briefly stayed here over the course of the war before being sent on to Europe and other theatres of war.
If you or your loved one have memories of the Second World War in Northern Ireland that you would like to share, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07588 634847.