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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 June 2006, 11:35 GMT 12:35 UK
Memorial to US airmen is unveiled
B-17 flies overhead (pic John Harrison)
A B-17 flies overhead during the ceremony
A memorial to 10 American airmen who died in a crash on Belfast's Cavehill during World War II has been unveiled.

The B-17 bomber went down in heavy fog 62 years ago after losing its bearings on the way to Nutt's Corner airport.

A plinth was unveiled in Belfast Zoo, near the crash site, on Thursday as a decommissioned B-17 flew over.

A film of how one crewman's wedding ring was found at the site decades later and returned to his widow, Closing the Ring, is being made.

More than 300,000 American military personnel passed through or were based in Northern Ireland during the war.

Belfast's Lord Mayor Wallace Browne said the memorial recognised the sacrifices they had made.

"At this place, at this memorial, we acknowledge a time-honoured debt to the 10 men of aircraft no 42-97862 and an entire generation of Americans who died and fought fearlessly to preserve the liberty we hold so dear," he said.

Poignant

US Consul to Northern Ireland Dean Pittman attended the ceremony and said it had been a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made during the war.

"American servicemen were particularly grateful for the warm hospitality they received from Northern Ireland people during the war," he said.

"This memorial typifies the kindness of spirit that you still extend to us, and we are indebted to the citizens of Belfast for this fitting tribute."

Lord Attenborough and Pete Postlethwaite on location in Belfast

The memorial site is on a grass verge at the top end of Belfast Zoo overlooking the lough.

The plinth carries the names of all 10 airmen.

The film Closing the Ring is loosely based on the discovery of the gunner's gold ring at the crash site by a young Belfast man and follows him as he tracks the gunner's girlfriend and the history of the ring.

Its stars include Shirley MacLaine, Pete Postlethwaite, Mischa Barton from TV's OC, Brenda Fricker and Christopher Plummer and is being directed by Lord Attenborough.

Closing the Ring was shot on location in Belfast and at the new Titanic Studios, and in Toronto in Canada.


SEE ALSO:
Belfast film charts ring's sad story
28 Mar 06 |  Northern Ireland



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