Brittany American Cemetery

Brittany American Cemetery. Source: American Battle Monuments Commission

 

The Brittany American Cemetery covers 28 acres and shelters the remains of 4,410 soldiers.

 

This 28-acre cemetery was established on a temporary cemetery set up just after the region was liberated by the 8th Infantry Division (US) on 2 August 1944.


 

After the war, when the temporary cemeteries were closed down by the American identification and interment services, the remains of American soldiers killed at war and whose families had request a burial abroad, were transferred from the temporary cemeteries to 14 permanent cemeteries.

The French government granted perpetual use of the land free of charges and taxes to the American government, in recognition of the sacrifices made to liberate Europe. The majority of the soldiers buried here were killed during the liberation of Brittany, the fall of A ranches and the violent battles around Saint Lô and Mortain.

 

The cemetery holds the remains of 4,410 soldiers. They account for 43% of burials made in the region.


 

The graves are divided into 16 plots, set out in concentric rows spreading out from the central lawn. These dead soldiers, who laid down their lives for their homeland, came from every State of the Union, the District of Colombia, Hawaii, Alaska and also Canada. Some 95 steles bear the inscription “Unknown Soldier” and shelter the remains of soldiers who could not be identified. Two of these graves contain the bodies of two soldiers who could not be separately identified. In 20 cases, two brothers lie side by side, and two others are buried in neighbouring plots.


 


The chapel, made from La Pirye granite from the Hanglé region in Brittany, comprises a vestibule, tower, memorial room and chapel. At its east end stands a sculpture representing “Youth Triumphing over Evil” made in Chauvigny limestone.

The Wall of the Missing, slightly curved, supports the terrace and bears the names, grades, units and home states of 498 unknown soldiers. They gave their life for their homeland yet there bodies were never found or formally identified. A bronze rosette marks those whose bodies were found.

The architect of the cemetery and memorial was William T. Aldrich from Boston, Massachusetts. Shurcliff & Shurcliff, also from Boston, landscaped the grounds. Lee Lawrie, from Easton, Maryland, designed the sculpture group “Youth Triumphing Over Evil” and the sculpture above the chapel’s entrance.

The cemetery’s inauguration ceremony took place after its completion on 20 July 1956.


 


American Battle Monuments Commission

The American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC), founded by United States Congress in 1923, is an agency of the executive branch of the federal government. Its mission is to preserve the memory of the sacrifices and deeds of the American military forces wherever they have served since 6 April 1917, the date the United States entered the First World War.


 

Brittany American Cemetery

50240 Saint-James - France

Tel: +33 (0)2 33 89 24 90

Fax: +33 (0)2 33 89 24 91

E-mail: brittany@abmc.gov


 


Tours

Open from 9 am to 5 pm. Admission and guided tours are free of charge. Information is available from the visitor information centre.

Closed on 25 December and 1 January.

Getting there

South of Avranches via the A84, one mile from the village of Saint James.


 

American Battle Monuments Commission

68 rue du 19 janvier BP 50 92380 Garches

Tel: +33 (0)1 47 01 37


 

American Battle Monuments Commission

  • La chapelle : Source : American Battle Monuments Commission

  • Cimetière Américain de Bretagne. Source : American Battle Monuments Commission