Aisne-Marne American Cemetery at Belleau
Aisne-Marne American Cemetery at Belleau Wood. Source: American Battle Monuments Commission
This 21-hectare cemetery contains 2,289 graves. It is located at the foot of the hill on which Belleau Wood stands.
This 21-hectare cemetery is situated at the foot of the hill on which Belleau Wood stands. Many of those buried in the cemetery lost their lives in the wood.
The cemetery's official name, Aisne-Marne, refers to the Aisne-Marne offensive which took place between May and October 1918, mainly in the south of the Aisne department and the west of the Marne department. Of the 2,289 graves in the cemetery, 250 contain the bodies of unidentified service personnel. The servicepeople who lie here originated from the 48 American states which existed at the time and the District of Columbia. Most of them died during the second battle of the Marne.
The chapel was built above the trenches on the front line dug by the 2nd American Division to defend Belleau Wood after it was captured on 25 June 1918. The chapel, a fine example of French Romanesque architecture, is more than 24 metres high. The exterior steps, the walls and the terrace are built of limestone from St. Maximin, Savonnières and Massangis. The sculptures around the entrance depict trench scenes from the First World War. The names of the 1,060 personnel who lost their lives are written on the walls of the chapel.
The Memorial is the work of architects Cram and Ferguson from Boston, Massachusetts. The décor in the chapel was designed by William F. Ross and Co., East Cambridge, Massachusetts and crafted by Alfred Bottiau from Paris. In 1934, the President of the United States allocated responsibility for the management of the cemetery, which was inaugurated on Memorial day (30 May) 1937, to the American Battle Monuments Commission.
The Bois Belleau
The Bois (wood), a site covering 81 hectares bordering the cemetery behind the chapel, is a memorial dedicated to all the Americans who fought during the First World War. It features the remains of trenches, shell holes and artefacts from the war found in the surrounding area.
On an island in the road through the clearing in the middle of the wood lies a monument erected by the Marines and a flag pole. The monument is a black granite stele to which is attached a bronze bas-relief by Felix de Weldon depicting a life-sized Marine attacking with a rifle and bayonet.
This monument commemorates the 4th Brigade, 2nd Division Marines who were primarily responsible for the capture of the wood. On 30 June 1918 the wood was officially renamed "Marine Brigade Wood" by the Commander General of the 6th French Army.
American Battle Monuments Commission
This American government agency manages 24 American cemeteries and 25 commemorative monuments, war memorials and other remembrance sites in 15 countries. The Commission plays a part in achieving the vision of its first president, General of the Armies of the United States John J. Pershing. General Pershing, Commander in Chief of the American expeditionary corps during the First World War, vowed that "Time will not dim the glory of their deeds".
Open every day (except 25 December and 1 January) from 9am to 5pm.
Entrance is free and guided visits, also free, are organised on reservation. Information is available from the visitor information centre.
Take exit 19 from the A4 motorway then follow the N3 to Belleau.
Aisne Marne American Cemetery
02400 Belleau - France
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
American Battle Monuments Commission
68 rue du 19 janvier BP 50 92380 Garches
Tel: +33 (0)1 47 01 37 46
03 23 70 70 90
Open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
The 25th december to 1st of january