Of the 2,289 burials in the cemetery, 250 are of Unknowns whose remains were not identified. Those interred here came from all of the then forty-eight states and the District of Columbia. Most of them died fighting during the Second Battle of the Marne.
The memorial chapel was erected over front line trenches dug by the 2nd Division as part of the defense of Belleau Wood, following capture of the Wood by the division on 25 June 1918. Rising more than 80 feet, it is a striking example of French Romanesque architecture. Its exterior steps, walls, and terrace are of native St. Maximin, Savonnieres and Massangis limestone. The decorative embellishments, on each side of the entrance, depict scenes from the trenches of WWI.
The names of the 1,060 Missing are inscribed on the walls of the Memorial Chapel.
The architects of the memorial features were Cram and Ferguson of Boston, Massachusetts. The chapel’s embellishments were designed by William F. Ross and Co., East Cambridge, Massachusetts and were executed by Alfred Bottiau, Paris.
By Executive Order, the President, in 1934, gave the Commission the responsibility of operating and maintaining the cemetery. The dedication ceremony was held on Memorial Day, May 30, 1937.
Belleau Wood, 200 acres in extent, adjoins the cemetery behind the memorial chapel. Vestiges of trenches, shell holes and relics of the war to include weapons found in the vicinity may be seen. This memorial to the American fighting men includes a monument erected by the U.S. Marines and a flagpole located on an island in the road passing through the clearing in the center of the Wood. The monument is a black granite stele with a life-size bronze bas-relief by Felix de Weldon of a Marine attacking with rifle and bayonet. This is to commemorate the 4th Marine Brigade of the U.S. 2d Division which was primarily responsible for the capture of the Wood. On 30 June 1918, these woods were officially renamed by the Commanding General, French 6th Army, as “Wood of the Marine Brigade.”
The Aisne-Marne American Cemetery is open daily from 9am to 5pm
(Closed on 25 December and 1st January)
Free guided tour upon appointment
Aisne Marne American Cemetery
02400 Belleau - France
Tel.: 03 70 70 90
Fax: 03 70 70 94
American Battle Monuments Commission
68 rue du 19 janvier BP 50
Tel: 01 47 01 37 46
|American Battle Monuments Commission
|This agency of the United States government operates and maintains 24 American cemeteries and 25 memorials, monuments and markers in 15 countries. The Commission works to fulfill the vision of its first chairman, General of the Armies John J. Pershing. Pershing, commander of the
American Expeditionary Force during World War I, promised that “time will not dim the glory of their deeds.”