NORMANDY AMERICAN CEMETERY AND MEMORIAL
|The Normandy American Cemetery site was chosen because
of its historical location on top of a cliff overlooking famous Omaha Beach
which was the scene of the greatest amphibious troop landing in history.
The official name "Normandy" is derived from the name of the province in
which the cemetery is located.
The cemetery site covers 172 acres. Use of the site, granted in perpetuity by the French Government in gratitude of their liberation in WW II, includes a right-of-way 1-2 mile long, leading from highway N-814 to the cemetery entrance.
The approach road to the cemetery starts at the large stone directional arrow on highway N-814 and runs between characteristic Normandy hedgerows to the main gate in the southeast corner of the cemetery. To the west of the gate is the utilities area; in this area are the deep wells which supply the cemetery water; here, too, are the reservoirs and pumping station. Beyond the Visitors' Building are the graves area, the memorial, the chapel, and the sea.
The maintenance of the cemetery and memorial is the responsibility of the American Battle Monuments Commission. This Commission was created by an Act of Congress in March 1923 for the purpose of construction and permanent maintenance of the cemeteries and memorials on foreign soil. Construction of this cemetery and memorial was completed in 1956 and dedicated on 19 July of that year. The architects for the cemetery and memorial were Harbeson, Hough, Livingston & Larson of Philadelphia, Pa. The landscape architect was Markley Stevenson, also of Philadelphia.
There are 9,386 American War Dead buried here. 307 of the headstones mark the graves of "Unknowns". The remains of approximately 14,000 others originally buried in this region were returned home at the request of their next of kin. There are also buried here, side by side, a father and his son, and in 33 instances two brothers rest side by side. Most of the dead who are buried here gave their lives in the landing operations and in the establishment of the beachhead. The headstones are of white Italian marble; a Star of David for those of Jewish faith and a Latin Cross for all others.
The Memorial consists of a semi-circular colonnade with a loggia at each end. On the platform immediately west of the colonnade is a 22-foot bronze statue, "The Spirit of American Youth" rising from the waves, a tribute to those who gave their lives in these operations. Around its base is the inscription "MINE EYES HAVE SEEN THE GLORY OF THE COMING OF THE LORD". The sculptor was Donald De Lue of New York City; the bronze was cast in Milan by the Battaglia Foundry. The Memorial is built of Vaurion, a French limestone from the Cote d'Or region; the plinths and steps are of Ploumanach granite from Brittany. The pavement on the platform between the loggias is faced with pebbles taken from the invasion beach below the cliff.
On the walls within the south loggia are three maps engraved in the stone and embellished with colored enamels. The largest, oriented with south-at the top, portrays landings on 6 June 1944, the establishment of the firm beachhead, the liberation of Cherbourg and St. Lo, and the subsequent attack by which our forces broke out of the beachhead. The map on the west wall vividly depicts the air operations prior to the landings, including the isolation of the beachhead area by the destruction of all routes of access from the interior of France; the map also records the major air operations in the beachhead after the landings. The map on the east wall shows the Naval plan for the landings and the manner in which it was executed. These maps were designed by Robert Foster of New York City from data furnished by the American Battle Monuments Commission. They were executed by Maurice Schmit of Paris. The panels in the ceilings of the loggias are of blue ceramic by Gentil & Bourdet of Paris. The west face of the loggias bears the dedicatory inscription, together with a French translation.
At the entrance to each loggia are two large bronze urns, also designed and sculptured in high relief by Donald De Lue and cast by Marinelli foundry of Florence, Italy. There are two identical pairs. On the face of one urn a dying warrior holding the sword with which he has fought the good fight is astride a charging horse which symbolizes War. The Angel of the Lord supports him and receives his spirit. On the reverse side of this urn a woman kneels, holding her child, beside the wreath-decorated grave of a soldier. About them shines the Star of Eternal Life. This composition is dedicated to the sacrifices and hardships of the women and children bereaved by war. The laurel leaf design around the top is symbolic of Victory and Honor.
On one side of the other urn, a figure represents the Lord as related in Genesis, Chapter I: "The spirit of the Lord moved on the face of the waters". The spray of laurel, on the representation of the waters, recalls to memory those who lost their lives at sea. The rainbow is the symbol of hope and peace. The reverse side of this urn shows a figure of an angel pushing away the stonesymbolic of resurrection and eternal life.
From the platform and facing west, is the reflecting pool; beyond it are the two flagstaffs, and the graves area, with the chapel set at the intersection of the main avenue, which are laid out as the arms of the Cross. To the north is the beach and English Channel. As late as 1956 it was still possible to see remnants of the so-called "Mulberry" the artificial port created by sinking ships and concrete caissons to facilitate the landing of our men and supplies. The Mulberry was installed a few days after the first assault, but was wrecked by a storm two weeks later. Nevertheless, hundreds of thousands of troops, and millions of tons of equipment and supplies were landed over this and neighboring beaches. Soon it became possible to draw gasoline through pipelines laid across the English Channel.
On the east side of the memorial is the semi-circular Garden of the Missing. Inscribed on its walls are the name, rank, organization and State of 1,557 of our Missing. These gave their lives in the service of their country but their remains have not been identified, or they were buried at sea in this region. These men came from every State in the Union as well as from the District of Columbia and Guam. At the center of the west side of the garden and below the colonnade is inscribed the extract from the dedication by General Eisenhower of the "Golden Book" now enshrined in St. Paul's Cathedral, London. The garden has beds of Polyantha roses "Joseph Guy"; European Ash trees - Fraxinus excelsior - grow in the lawn areas; the beds at the foot of the walls of the Missing are planted with St. Johns Wort - Hypericum calycinum - and Golden Cypress - Cupressus macrocarba lutea.
In the graves area the 9,386 headstones are set in 10 plots. Their precise alignment upon the smooth green lawn conveys an unforgettable impression of dignity and beauty. These Dead, who gave their lives in our Country's service, came from every State in the Union and the District of Columbia. A few of them came from England, Scotland and Canada. Informal groups of mixed shrubs - deciduous trees and conifers - are planted in the grave plots.
The circular chapel, also built of Vaurion stone on Ploumanach granite steps, is surmounted by a bronze finial with an armillary sphere. In the frieze, and vertically above the door, is a replica of the Congressional Medal of Honor, our Country's highest and rarest award for valor beyond the call of duty. The chapel altar is of black and gold "Grand Antique" marble from the Pyrenees. Above it a cross is silhouetted against the crystal window. The altar is flanked by the flags of the United States, France, Great Britain, and Canada. The mosaic ceiling, designed and executed by Leon Kroll of New York City, symbolizes America who gives her farewell blessing to her sons as they depart by sea and air to fight for her principles of freedom. Over the altar, a grateful France bestows a laurel wreath upon our Dead who gave their lives to liberate Europe's oppressed peoples. The return of Peace is recalled by the angel, the dove, and the homeward-bound ship.
At the western end of the main axis of the cemetery are two Italian granite (Baveno) figures by Donald De Lue representing the United States and France.
At the memorial one can descend a flight of granite steps to a parapet. From here can be seen the vertical stone cliffs approximately 1,200 yards to the right. To the left, about 2,500 yards, one can see the Pointe de la Percee. Between these two points lies Omaha Beach one of the three beaches where, in the darkness of the early morning hours on 6 June 1944, three Airborne Divisions, the British 6th, the U.S. 82nd and 101st, dropped behind the beaches to destroy enemy forces and to cover the deployment of the seaborne assault troops. Simultaneously the Allied Naval forces moved in with battleships, heavy cruisers, destroyers and transports, and began laying down a barrage of gunfire along the cliffs and inland on enemy bivouac areas and supply depots, as well as centering their fire on all roads leading to the beaches. At 06'00 hours, under cover of this naval gunfire as well as air bombardment, six U.S., British, and Canadian Divisions landed in the greatest amphibious assault recorded in history.
The tidal flats all along the beach for about 250 yards out from the high-water line were studded with obstacles made of rails or heavy angle iron and logs driven in the sand. Most of the obstacles were mined with Teller mines and set in such a manner that they would blow or stave in the bottoms of landing craft. The enemy had been, for several months, working intensively on fortifying this area. At the entrance of the draws, the enemy constructed concrete blockhouses and pill-boxes. Many of these fortifications were connected by underground tunnels. Along the brow of the cliffs were trenches with dug-in machine gun and mortar emplacements. The flat area between the high-water line and the base of the cliffs was heavily mined with anti-personnel and tank mines and protected with barbed wire entanglement. The first wave of troops had to disembark from their boats in water up to their waists, and in some instances deeper, and wade ashore through these obstacles.
The engineers in the first wave had lost a lot of their equipment due to the high seas which capsized the boats causing some of them to hit the mined obstacles established by the enemy. Continuing on, the engineers began to open gaps through the shingles piled against the sea wall with whatever equipment they were able to retain. Other engineers, aided by the Infantry, were opening gaps through the minefields and wire entanglement. This work was made extremely difficult by the enemy firing from their fortified positions along the cliffs directly down on the beach into the troops and supplies coming in from the boats. By 0800 hours the troops had worked their way up the face of the cliffs and were beginning to neutralize the enemy positions from behind. By 1400 hours the enemy fortifications along the cliffs were destroyed or reduced to a point that they were of little value. The engineers opened roads up to draws; and tanks, heavy artillery and supply trucks were moving inland to support the troops that had advanced to the highway that enters the cemetery.
The Allied air forces had been over this area before the landing started, searching out targets for the Naval Forces to fire on, and bombarding the access roads as well as any enemy troops and equipment moving toward the landing areas. The air forces dropped more than 37,000 tons of bombs during the month of May just prior to the invasion. This air preparation was successful in destroying all rail and highway bridges. The bombardment also reduced all rail centers to or about 40% of their effectiveness. This systematic bombing by Allied air forces was far reaching as it disrupted all forms of transportation between the Seine and the Loire.
Eight road miles west of here is Pointe du Hoc which the U.S. 2nd Ranger Battalion stormed in the same manner as the old medieval castles were attacked, by grappling hooks and ladders. Thirty-three road miles to the west is Utah Beach where in the same morning, 6 June, American troops made another amphibious assault as well as an airborne landing. The principal units that made the assault landings here at Omaha Beach were the U.S. 1st and 29th Divisions.
The Allied armies grew rapidly in strength. Driving northward, American forces, aided by strong naval and air bombardment, freed Cherbourg on 26 June. On 9 July, the British and Canadians fought their way into Caen; nine days later U.S. units took St. Lo. The Allies could now unleash their planned attack to break out of the beachhead. While British forces heavily engaged the enemy on the Allied left flank, American troops west of St. Lo undertook the major effort to drive through the enemy defenses. On 25 July, following a paralyzing bombardment by the U.S. Eighth and Ninth Air Forces and the Royal Air Force, the U.S. 4th, 9th and 30th Divisions opened a gap in the enemy line which was promptly exploited by the 1st Infantry and 2nd and 3rd Armored Divisions. Other American forces progressively added their efforts, liberating Coutances on 28 July. In a week the drive had cleared Avranches.
After nearly two months confinement to the beachhead area, the Allied armies had finally broken into the open and were moving for-ward on a broad front.
An orientation table at the overlook indicates the various landing beaches. From the overlook one may descend to the beach where another orientation table is located showing the Mulberry in some detail. Down on the beach a visitor can get a better idea of the perils of those who stormed ashore on that June morning.
POINTE DU HOC RANGER MEMORIAL
|The Pointe du Hoc Ranger Memorial, covering 30.5 acres,
is the battleground 8 road miles west of Normandy American Cemetery, where
Colonel Earl Pudder's 2nd Ranger Battalion scaled the 100 foot cliffs on
D-Day morning, 6 June 1944, to seize this fortified enemy position which
controlled the landing approaches to Omaha and Utah Beaches. The site,
preserved since the war by the French Committee of the Pointe du Hoc, which
erected an impressive granite monument at the edge of the cliff, was transferred
to American control by formal agreement between the two governments on
11 January 1979 in Paris, with Ambassador Arthur A. Hartman signing for
the United States and Secretary of State for Veterans Affairs Maurice Plantier
signing for France.
General Omar Bradley, who commanded the operation against Omaha and Utah Beaches, commented: "No soldier in my command has ever been wished a more difficult task than that which befell the 34 year-old commander of this Provisional Ranger Force. Lieutenant Colonel James E. Rudder, a rancher from Brady, Texas, was to take a force of 200 men, land on a shingled shelf under the face of a 100-foot cliff, and there destroy an enemy battery of coastal guns."
At approximately 4:30 a.m. on the morning of 6 June 1944 the Rangers set out for their objective. As the small flotilla of British assault landing craft, loaded down with 225 men of the U.S. 2nd Ranger Battalion, approached the cliffs of Normandy, a Ranger in one of the L.C.A.s decided to "stand up and have a look". "My God, they are up there waiting for us", the young soldier said as he sat back down, readied his rifle and prepared to hit the beach. As all of the assault craft came within range, the enemy at the top of the cliff opened up with concentrated small arms and machine gun fire. The "zing" of ricocheting bullets was in the air. Fifteen Rangers were killed or wounded during the struggle through the rough surf, and the dash across the heavily cratered narrow beach. The fighting, the bleeding, and the dying on the Normandy beaches had begun. The D-Day Ranger Force of two battalions, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel James Earl Rudder, a former football coach and rancher of Brady, Texas, had a special mission on the right flank (western anchor) of Omaha Beach. Three companies of the 2nd Ranger Battalion were to scale the 100 foot high cliffs in an isolated action three miles west of the main landings, and take a heavily fortified battery position at the "Pointe du Hoc". One company of the same unit would land on Omaha's "Charlie" beach and assault the enemy positions at "Pointe de la Percee". If the assault at Pointe du Hoc was successful by H-Hour plus 30 minutes, the 5th Ranger Battalion led by Lieutenant Colonel !fax Schneider of Shenandoah, Iowa, and the remaining companies of the 2nd Battalion would land there. If not, Schneider's Rangers would land on Omaha and proceed with an overland attack an Pointe du Hoc. As the situation developed, the Rangers were to fight a battle completely different, with different objectives from the ones planned prior to D-Day.
Ranger Captain Ralph E. Goranson, of Libertyville, Illinois, with the special mission at Pointe de la Percee, led the 68 men of "Charlie" company across the sand, subjected to deadly accurate enemy fire. Only 29 of his Rangers made it. Thirty-nine were dead or about to die in the surf and on the beach. "Here's one for Ripley", Captain Goranson said to one of the Ranger officers some time later, "I found nine slugs and bullet holes in my gear and clothing - didn't get a scratch, yet so many around us have died". British destroyers eventually took care of the enemy installations at the Pointe de la Percee, but in spite of the severe losses the remaining handful of Goranson's Rangers went on to destroy a well defended enemy fortification inflicting many casualties.
The German fortifications at Pointe du Hoc contained the enemy's biggest guns, a battery of six 155 millimeter howitzers of French make. This artillery with a range of 25,000 feet posed a great threat to the troops on both of the American beaches and had to be knocked out by H-Hour (6:30 a.m.) if the landing were to succeed with a minimum of losses. The late Lieutenant Colonel Rudder (who was later to become the President of Texas A & M University at College Station Texas, and a major general) was sure he had the men to do the job. Lieutenant Colonel Rudder's men, in turn, had complete confidence in his leadership.
Eighteen U.S. Bombers dropped their bomb-loads minutes before the Rangers hit the beach, driving the enemy underground and momentarily disrupting communications. The assault itself was not unlike a medieval attack on the ramparts of a besieged castle. When D-Company platoon leader Lieutenant George F. Kirchnef, of Baltimore, Md., got his first close up look at the cliffs and heard the rattle of the enemy machine guns overhead his immediate thought was: "This whole thing is just one great big mistake, we'll never make it". But the Rangers did "make it". It was a wild and frenzied scene as the men of Dog, Easy, and Fox companies scaled the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc. They accomplished this very difficult task by means of rocket-fired rope and rope ladders anchored to the top of the cliff by grappling hooks. The U.S. Destroyer Satterlee saw the enemy firing from positions along the edge of the cliffs and moved in for close support fire. Ropes were cut, hurling Rangers back down to the beach. They got up and found other ropes to climb. Hand grenades were dropped on their heads. They continued to climb.
Sergeant Hayward A. Robey, an E-Company BAR man, and a couple of other Rangers reached the top in less than five minutes. Robey saw a group of the enemy to his right throwing grenades over the cliff. From a shallow niche at the cliff's edge he sprayed the grenadiers with 40 or 50 rounds of fast fire. Three of the enemy dropped and the rest disappeared into shelters, Rangers in larger numbers were now scrambling over the cratered edge of the cliff, driving the enemy back in a determined effort to reach and destroy the main objectives, the 155 millimeter guns. As Ranger groups reached their appointed gun emplacements they were shocked and surprised to find empty casements, and almost all of the concrete positions completely pulverized. The big guns were strangely no place to be found.
Radio communications in these early stages of the battle were ineffective. A communications team still down on the beach made repeated attempts without success to reach the 5th Ranger Battalion. Due to the delayed landing at Pointe du Hoc, Schneider's Rangers were already landing as pre-arranged on Omaha Beach, where a very much bigger battle was raging, and, as it turned out, a place where combat troops were badly needed. Therefore, the Rangers at the "Hoc" had to fight on alone. The 5th Rangers would take part in unexpected battles and would later be credited with "Leading the Way" on Omaha Beach.
While the Rangers were mopping up the Pointe, a patrol led by D-Company's First Sergeant Leonard G. Lomell, of Toms River, N.J., discovered the missing French 155's in an apple orchard cleverly camouflaged and sited for fire on either of the two beaches. Lomell and his men destroyed the guns with thermite grenades and thus prevented untold casualties on both Utah and Omaha Beaches. Lieutenant Colonel Rudder now instructed the radio team to send the following message:. "Located Pointe du Hoc - mission accomplished - need ammunition and reinforcements - many casualties". About two hours later a brief message was received from Major General Clarence R. Huebner, Commander of the 1st Infantry Division, which read as follows: "Sorry, no reinforcements available, all Ranger forces have landed". Rudder's Rangers could not now expect any help from ground forces landing three to four miles away, but they did have destroyers just off shore that were ready, willing and able to lend support. Communications with the Destroyer Satterlee- was established via means of a signal lamp by Lieutenant James Eikner, the Rangers' communications officer. When radio contact was made, radioman Lou Lisko of Natrona Heights, Pa., asked what Satterlee's radio call sign would be. The radio operator on board replied: "Just call us 'Slugger"'. For the next 48 hours the Destroyer, Satterlee was to live up to its radio code name. The destroyer fired on every target designated by the Rangers and also some targets it discovered on its own. Despite the many enemy artillery shells exploding very close to the Satterlee, and the other destroyers, they did not retreat but stayed and "slugged it out' with the enemy. The Rangers could not have accomplished their mission and survived without this support.
The battle on Pointe du Hoc was fought actually by two main Ranger groups: the force that advanced beyond and cut the coastal highway (this group also found and destroyed the missing guns); and the Rangers who stayed to form a defensive perimeter near the fortified area of the Pointe itself. both groups were to fight off, with the help of naval bombardment, a series of counter attacks and were to take part in countless skirmishes designed to drive the Rangers back into the sea. Private First Class William Cruz, a D-Company rifleman, was the only man of a group of 11 to return from an attack on an antiaircraft position located on the extreme right flank of the perimeter. F-Company's Commander Captain Otto "Big Stoop" Masny of Pewaukee, Wisconsin, was wounded in a fire fight near gun position N'6. Every man in his group of about 10 had been wounded by enemy small arms fire, including four killed. A sniper's bullet found its mark, and killed Sergeant Jack Richards of F-Company, an outstanding high-school football player from Lou Lisko's hometown. And so it went, with other groups of Zangers continuing the attack, determined to accomplish their mission and stay alive. Sergeant Elrod Petty of Cohutto, Georgia, an F-Company BAR man, accounted for 30 of the enemy single-handedly in one isolated action. The medical section with the Ranger assault force, under the command of Captain Walter E. Block, M.D. of Chicago, Illinois, passed. a very busy day. They did a heroic job of taking care of the wounded, although they themselves were constantly under enemy fire and suffered a number of wounded among their own ranks. In spite of the many casualties suffered, and thanks to the great naval support fire, the Rangers survived the fighting on D-Day and tenaciously held fast.
D+l found the Rangers in defensive positions fighting off more attacks and awaiting the arrival of the rescue forces from Omaha Beach. An enemy machine gun position occupied by a number of German riflemen, located at the extreme left flank of the perimeter was a particularly annoying problem ever since the H-Hour landing. The two attempts by Fox company men had resulted in casualties and failed to eliminate the machine gun nest. The Rangers were too shorthanded to take further action, so a message was sent to higher command via a destroyer radio explaining the predicament. During the late afternoon of D+l Rangers stood up and cheered as U.S. fighter bombers attacked and obliterated the enemy gun position. "Beautiful, right on target, a bullseye", shouted Sergeant Robert G. Youso of Rockville, Md., who was wounded earlier in a three man ground attack on this position. He had crawled to within 20 yards of the enemy but was shot through the arm by a German rifleman as he half raised to throw a hand grenade into the machine gun nest. He spent the next day fighting with one arm in a sling.
Suddenly, friendly planes now appeared to bomb and strafe Pointe du Hoc. Apparently, the Air Corps had been erroneously informed that the Rangers had been wiped out. The squadron leader, using good judgment, came down to tree top level for a better look at his designated target. Many of the Rangers on the bomb cratered terrain stood up and frantically waved their arms, helmets and field jackets. One Ranger, under fire, spread out on the torn earth an American flag for more positive identification. "Look, he sees us ... he's waving back at us", a Ranger shouted, "He knows now that are friendly troops down here". The low flying squadron leader, satisfied that U.S. troops were still fighting for possession of this little corner of France, joined the other pilots at the higher altitude and headed back across the channel.. The tiny Ranger beachhead at Pointe du Hoc was in an almost constant state of siege. It was actually after the early destruction's of the big guns that most of the fighting on this little piece of French real estate took place. Right up to the time of the relief on D+2 by advancing troops from Omaha Beach the Rangers continued to fight for survival.
Having run out of ammunition for some of their own weapons many hours earlier, Rudder's men were now using captured German machine guns, and this got them into some serious trouble. When other advancing friendly forces heard the distinctive sound of the German machine guns, they opened up with tank and mortar fire on the beleaguered Rangers, thinking they had run into the enemy. As the first rounds began exploding in the C.P. area, Lieutenant Colonel Rudder, above the noise of the explosions and sounds of gun fire could be heard shouting: "Stop firing those machine guns". But the friendly fire did not stop until Corporal Frank "Killer" Kolodziejczak of Natrona Heights, Pa., contacted these forces by radio. This mistake in identity tragically resulted in four Rangers killed and six wounded.
The relief of the forces on the Pointe du Hoc took place a short time later. The 5th Ranger Battalion and the 116th Infantry Regiment of the 29th Division arrived about noon on D+2. Their arrival forced the enemy to retreat westward towards Grandcamp-les-Bains, where that evening another major battle would be fought. For the first time since H-Hour the survivors of the battle at Pointe du Hoc could breathe easy. Only 90 of the original 225 Rangers who had landed there two days earlier were now able to bear arms. Some of the 90 with comparatively lesser wounds were also listed as casualties, including Lieutenant Colonel Rudder. Although wounded twice he refused to be evacuated, remaining with his men in the continuing effort to expand the beachhead. The 2nd Ranger Battalion, in the D-Day assault, landed approximately 450 men on the Normandy beaches. Seventy-seven were killed in action; 158 wounded and 38 missing - a casualty rate of around 60 per cent. The survivors of Pointe du Hoc moved out to join other troops, and to take part in still other battles that were yet to be fought before Hitler's armies could be finally and totally defeated.
General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of all allied forces in the Normandy assault, once said: "I had always attached great importance to the liquidation of the Pointe du Hoc gun battery".
During a nostalgic post-war visit to the same area the General said: "It took guts to get up those cliffs that day".
Today, the battle-scarred Pointe du Hoc remains exactly
as the Rangers left it on the afternoon of 8 June 1944. The only addition
is a large stone monument erected in memorial tribute to the men who fought
and died there. The monument was a project of a grateful and dedicated
group of Frenchmen known as the "Comite' de la Pointe du Hoc". It was through
their efforts and the generosity of the Government of France that this
sacred corner of French soil was placed in perpetuity under the care of
the American Battle Monuments Commission which maintains American military
cemeteries and memorials on foreign soil.
LUXEMBOURG AMERICAN CEMETERY AND MEMORIAL
|The cemetery is entered between tall iron gates, each
weighing well over a ton and bearing gilded laurel wreaths the ancient
award for valor. Each gate pylon bears, in relief, a cluster of thirteen
stars commemorating the original composition of the United States of America.
Gilded bronze eagles - our national emblem - surmount the pillars.
Low, curving stone walls, backed by evergreen, outline the entrance.
The masonry of the Visitors' Building located to the left of the entrance, is laced with Virginia Creeper, (Ampelopsis Veitcbii), which suffuses the stone with brilliant red in autumn. There is a Guest Register inside the Visitors' Building for those desiring to record their visit. Comfort rooms and easy chairs are also available for visitors' convenience. A register of burials is maintained in the Office, not only for those buried at this cemetery but also for all those who were left buried outside of the United States. Cemetery personnel will be pleased to locate specific graves and to offer assistance and information desired.
From the entrance may be seen the Memorial -- a tall square shaft with indented corners -- which contains a nondenominational Chapel. The structure is built of Valore stone, quarried in central France. The dedication reads: IN PROUD REMEMBRANCE OF THE ACHIEVEMENTS OF HER SONS AND IN HUMBLE TRIBUTE TO THEIR SACRIFICES THIS MEMORIAL HAS BEEN ERECTED BY THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Above the dedication is the Great Seal of the United States. A dedicatory inscription, in French -- the official language of the Grand-Duchy -- and the Luxembourg Coat of Arms, are carved on the opposite side of the Memorial. At the center of the Memorial terrace there is a bronze inscription, set into a granite slab, which was taken from a dedication made by General Eisenhower in the Golden Book at St. Paul's Cathedral in London. It reads: ALL WHO SHALL HEREAFTER LIVE IN FREEDOM WILL BE HERE REMINDED THAT TO THESE MEN AND THEIR COMRADES WE OWE A DEBT TO BE PAID WITH GRATEFUL REMEMBRANCE OF THEIR SACRIFICE AND WITH THE HIGH RESOLVE THAT THE CAUSE FOR WHICH THEY DIED SHALL LIVE ETERNALLY.
The West Pylon at the right of the terrace bears a map portraying the military operations in northwest Europe, from the landings in Normandy until the end of the war. This map, like the one on the East Pylon, was designed by Allyn Cox, an American artist. The granite work was performed by M.C. Bargna, the bronze work by Stefano Johnson, both of Milan, Italy. The skillful fitting of the separate granite slabs which compose the maps is remarkable. Cutting of these hard stones by chisel proved impracticable. All engraving had to be accomplished by sandblasting. The various granites are Rosso Vanga and Verde Svezzia from Sweden; verde Mergozzo Chiaro, Nero Biella, Rosa Baveno Chiaro, Bianco Montorfano and Verde Glance are from the northwest Italian Alpine regions. The East Pylon carries a map illustrating the operations which took place in this immediate region, including the so-called "Battle of the Bulge", or "von Rundstedt Offensive" as it is known in Europe.
Like the Memorial, these pylons are faced in Valore stone with capstones of New Orchid Red, an extremely hard granite quarried in Sweden. The ends of the pylons carry the insignia of the Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force. Inscribed on the outer faces of the pylons are the names and particulars of 370 Missing American soldiers and airmen. Half of these names appear on the West Pylon, half on the East one. Forty-two states and the District of Columbia are represented in this record. Since the Air Forces formed part of the United States Army during World War II, the inscription on the wall is correct for the period it concerns. The number of stars around the capstones of the two pylons total 48, which was the number of States comprising the Union in that same era.
At the end of the terrace, overlooking the cemetery proper, is a long bronze balustrade, fabricated by the H. H. Martyn Company of Cheltenham, England. The terrace and chapel are framed in a high, formally shaped beech hedge (Fagus sylvatica) with a transitional border of Cotoneaster horizontalis plants. The steps leading up to the chapel are laid in paving stones from the Vosges; the risers are St. Gerhard granite from Switzerland. The shrubs on either side are Japanese Holly (Ilex crenata). Over the chapel doorway are inscribed the following words: HERE IS ENSHRINED THE MEMORY OF VALOR AND SACRIFICE. Above, stands the 23 foot figure of the Angel of Peace, its right hand raised in blessing, surmounted by the Dove. This work is also carved in New Orchid Red. It was designed by Leo Friedlander of White Plains, New York, and was executed by the Fratelli Polli for Cirla e Figlio of Baveno, Italy. Mr. Friedlander also designed the bronze doors, which were made by the Martyn Company of England. The eight panels in the doors symbolize military virtues, or the attributes of the good soldier.
Inside the Chapel, four massive bronze lamps -- fabricated by the Morris Singer Company of London -- serve to illuminate the mosaic ceiling. The Dove in the center represents the Holy Spirit; it rests upon a cloud background and the sun's rays, within a numbus held by four angels. Allyn Cox designed the ceiling, which was executed by Fabrizio Cassio of Rome, Italy. The interior walls of the chapel are of another French stone known as Hauteville Perlg. The symbols and inscriptions on the walls are appropriate. The Altar is of Bleu Beige marble from southern Belgium and bears the text from St. John: X: 28; I GIVE UNTO THEM ETERNAL LIFE AND THEY SHALL NEVER PERISH. The stained glass window above the altar contains the insignia of the five major American military commands which operated in this region; 12th Army Group, First Army, Third Army and the Eight and Ninth Air Forces. The window was also designed by Allyn Cox and fabricated by Morris Singer Company. The pews and prie-Dieu of ebony-stained birchwood were made by Patriarca of Rome. The bronze plaque in the center of the chapel floor, which contains a detail from the Great Seal of the United States, was poured in a foundry here in Luxembourg.
It is fitting that Luxembourg is represented on the Memorial. The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, a country of 999 square miles and some 375,000 inhabitants, was occupied, of course, by enemy forces. Over 12,000 of this country's young men were conscripted for service on the Russian front. One-third of this group were eventually reported as killed or missing in action. Despite their grievous losses, the people of the Grand Duchy devoted themselves at once to render important material aid to the Allied Forces. The country's steel industry, for example, helped meet urgent need for bridge trusses, girders, rails and other massive elements, thereby freeing supply ships that could be diverted to the Pacific Theater where they were needed desperately. It is understandable that the troops of the U.S. Fifth Armored Division received a joyous welcome when they liberated the Capital on 10 September 1944. This Division and other 'elements of the First Army completely freed the entire country on 14 September 1944. Thus, it may be appreciated that a close relationship bound the two countries together as World War 11 came to an end. That bond exists just as strongly today.
By the end of the war, there were 83 temporary United States military cemeteries in North Africa, the Middle East, Italy, Great Britain and Western Europe. After a comprehensive study, it was decided that these cemeteries should be reduced in number and that our War Dead would be interred in 13 permanent cemeteries. This site was included in the group. Upon learning of that decision, the people of Luxembourg purchased the fifty acres of land involved and offered the site as a gift to the American people in token of gratitude for their liberation from the oppressor. The passing of title to the American Government, however, would have raised questions of extra-territoriality and it was felt preferable for us to accept the use of the land in perpetuity rather than outright ownership of the property. This arrangement was ratified by an Agreement signed in Luxembourg City on March 20, 1951, by Madam Perle Mesta, then U.S. Minister to Luxembourg.
The Battle of the Bulge opened on 16 December 1944 when a lightning German counter-attack under Field Marchal von Rundstedt swept back across the northern half of this country and into Belgium. To help stem the onslaught and eventually to close the salient, the [J.S. Third Army under the ommand of General George Patton was diverted at Metz and, swinging north through Luxembourg City itself, these troops managed not only to liberate Luxembourg a second time, but also to relieve our beleaguered forces holding the town of Bastogne in Belgium. American casualties resulting from the Third Army engagement were brought to this site, where the present cemetery was opened on 29 December 1944.
The history of the cemetery, though brief, is interesting. On July 1, 1945, control of the cemetery was transferred from Base Section authority to the American Graves Registration Command, which undertook to develop the site as a fitting -- although perhaps temporary -- memorial to those buried here. At that time, there were 8,411 graves. As the year drew to a close, General Patton was injured in an automobile accident in the vicinity of Mannheim, Germany. He was believed to be well on the way to recovery when complications set inand proved fatal. General Patton was interred here among his former soldiers on 24 December 1945.
The cemetery was closed to the public from early March 1948 to 16 December 1949, during which period the remains of the Dead were either returned to the United States or permanently interred here in accordance with the decisions of the respective next-of-kin. Upon completion of this program, the cemetery contained 5,076 burials. This number remains unchanged. On December 16, 1949, control passed from the American Graves Registration Command to the American Battle Monuments Commission, an independent agency of the American Government created by Act of Congress in March 1923 for the development and maintenance of American Military cemeteries and memorials on foreign soil.
As the American Battle Monuments Commission rightfully considers that the graves themselves are its primary responsibility, the Commission's first project was the erection of marble gravestones to replace the wooden markers which had served during the period of military operations. The stones were quarried and inscribed in the Italian Dolomites (Lasa) and were then erected here with great care. Each stone weighs 125 pounds and there are 61/2, miles of reinforced concrete beam under the lawn to hold these markers permanently erect. The arrangement of the graves is unusual. The rows are concentric arcs swung from a theoretical center point which would lie about 500 feet directly behind the chapel. These arcs, and a gentle "5" in elevation flowing down the slope, plus the uniform spacing of graves within each row were the essentials that had to be attained, with a tolerance of onlv 3/32ds of an inch in any direction as each headstone was erected. Overlooking the graves area from the terrace, one may detect straight lines, lines which start straight and assume a curve, and curves which appear to straighten toward the bottom of the slope; but these are purely happenstance and should not be confused with the architect's conception. With the headstones in place, the underground cables and irrigation lines installed, and the lawns established, the Commission could then turn its attention to the erection of the memorial itself. The work was completed in the spring of 1960 and the dedication ceremonies were held on July 4 of that year.
The cemetery lies within a circle of natural woods containing beecb, oak, larch and pine trees, augmented over the years to replace some of the original growth and to form a screen in an effort to keep the cemetery a serene resting place. The perimeter areas have been planted with wild rose and lilac for spring color.
On either side of the central burial plots there are radial malls which contain plant beds made up of Red Barberry (Berberis tbunbergi) borders enclosing beds of roses of two different varieties. Each mall also contains two fountains both consisting of three pools in descending levels. Bronze dolphins and turtles decorate the pools and accentuate the flow of water from the fountains. The dolphins is symbolic of the Resurrection and the turtle represents Life Everlasting. Each fountain is distinguished by a stone column, the form of which repeats the architectural theme of the memorial and the two terrace pylons. Each column also bears a sculpture representing one of the four Evangelists; Matthew and his attendant symbol, an angel; Mark and the Lion; Luke and the Bull; and John and the Eagle. These symbols were used in early Christian days - possibly as secret identifications to mislead persecuting pagan authorities. Perhaps they were convenient devices to transmit or dramatize the Christian message among the illiterate masses or among tribes of completely different dialects. The symbols have been preserved through the ages. They may be seen, for example, in the West portico sculptures of the Cathedral of Chartres in France. They are used here to give religious significance to the burial area.
As mentioned earlier, there are 5,076 burials in this cemetery. Some are marked with the Star of David, indicating that the deceased were of the Jewish faith. There are 117 of these graves. All other faiths are marked with the Roman Cross. There are also 101 graves of unknown soldiers or airmen. The headstones marking these graves bear the inscription: ITERE LIES IN HONORED GLORY A COMRADE IN ARMS KNOWN BUT TO GOD. Burials were expressly arranged so that there would be no distinction or segregation according to rank, religion, race, state or origin. One exception to this rule had to be made in the case of General Patton because of the vast number of persons wishing to visit his grave. One other special arrangement was made in the side-by-side burial of brothers. There are twenty-two pairs of brothers buried here.
As mentioned earlier, thirteen permanent World War II cemeteries were established on this side of the Atlantic. It should not be assumed however, that the others resemble this one. Each cemetery was designed individually by an eminent American architect or architectural firm, and each contains a memorial complementing its particular burial area. Nevertheless, while the arrangement of the burial area, and hence the design of the memorial, differ at each cemetery, there is in every case a small non-denominational chapel, a permanent inscription of the names of those whose remains were not recovered or identified, and a record in graphic form of the achievements of our Armed Forces in the region where the memorial is located.
The architects for this cemetery and memorial were Keallv and Patterson of New York City. Mr. Alfred Geiffert Jr., also of New York, was the landscape architect. There are three platforms situated along the edge of the lower woods, which provide the best views of the cemetery. In this regard, photography is permitted. Picture postcards and color slides of the cemetery may be purchased at souvenir and photo shops in the town.