Heritage Lottery grant to Orra Airmen project

A GRANT for £7,900 has been handed over from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the Slieveanorra (US) Airmen Memorial project.

Sunday, 22nd December 2013, 6:00 am

The scheme involves plans to build a memorial in memory of the US Airmen who died in the B17 air crash on Slieve an Orra in October 1942.

This exciting project will help tell the almost forgotten story of the eight US airmen who perished after their bomber entered low cloud and crashed 71 years ago in the darkest days of World War 2.

It will also tell the story of the two survivors who were left badly injured, thousands of miles from home, on a desolate Co Antrim hill top relaying how the efforts made by local people who went to their rescue before taken them to a nearby hospital for medical treatment. This Sharing Heritage is a new funding programme to help people across the UK explore, conserve and share all aspects of the history and character of the local area whilst bringing awareness to the next generation of what has happened in their area.

Slieveanorra (US) Airmen’s Memorial Fund was set up to raise funds to build a fitting memorial to these men who died for their country and their sacrifice was unrecognised for decades.

Since beginning their campaign the Orra airmen’s group have established contact with families of the men in America bringing comfort to their relatives and of their appreciation to the local people who had remembered their loved ones.

Nameless no longer the story of these men’s lives is a powerful story that is at last going to find its audience, both locally and further afield.

It is also planned to have the event noted as part of a Heritage trail where visitors can come and pay their respects whilst taking in the beauty and explore other local historical sights.

Commenting on the award, spokesperson for the group, Mr Eamonn McBride, said: “This story of the Slieve an Orra air crash, once almost forgotten, is now going to be told as it fully deserves to be. We are excited that after all our efforts a fitting memorial to these men will be built on the mountain and that their powerful story will at last be told and their sacrifice recognised.”

Paul Mullan, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund NI, said: “The air crash on Slieve an Orra may seem like a local event but through this project the group will help young and old undercover and understand the wider heritage. The project will explore the details of the event and the personal stories of those involved but also the Second World War and the American war time connections with Northern Ireland.”