American Cemetery Brittany (Fr)
The cemetery site covers 28 acres, was constructed on the site of a temporary cemetery established shortly after the area was liberated on 2 August 1944 by the U.S. 8th Infantry Division.
After the war, when the temporary cemeteries were being disestablished by the American Graves Registration Service, the remains of American military Dead whose next-of-kin had elected interment on foreign soil were moved frorn temporary cemeteries to this, one of fourteen permanent sites. The use of the land was granted to the United States government in perpetuity by the peoples of France in recognition for the sacrifices in liberating Europe. Most of the interred died in the Breakout of Avranches, the fierce fighting in Saint-Ló and Mortain, and the liberation of Brittany.
The memorial chapel, of La Pyrie granite, from Le Hinglé in Brittany, consists of an antechamber and tower, museum room and chapel. At the east end is a sculpture group, in Chauvigny limestone,
"Youth Triumphing Over Evil.'"
Over the entrance door is another sculpture group consisting of an eagle, shield, stars, laurel and awows representing the Great Seal of the United States. Below the sculpture is the inscription:
IN MEMORY OF THE VALOR AND THE SACRIFICES WH1CH CONSECRATE THIS SOIL.
Inside, the antechamber contains a small room with a stained-glass figure of St. James of Compostela. Here also one sees the dedicatory inscription in French and English, of which the English version reads:
1941 - 1945 * IN PROUD REMEMBRANCE OF THE ACHIEVEMENTS OF HER SONS AND IN HUMBLE TRIBUTE TO THEIR SACRIFICES TH1S MEMORIAL HAS BEEN EREC-TED BY THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
The museum room, just beyond the antechamber, displays the flags, projecting from high, of different components of our military service. On the wall flanking the entrance doorway to the south is engraved an extract from President Franklin D. Roosevelt's prayer on the occasion of the invasion of Normandy, D-Day 1944. Windows of stained glass, four on each side, portray the coat of arms as well as a characteristic feature of eight towns or cities liberated during these operations: Carentan, Cherbourg, St. Ló, Mont Saint Michel, Mortain, Paris, Chartres, and Brest. On the north and south walls are the battle maps, "Breakout from the Beachhead and Advance to the Seine," and “Military Operations in Western Europe,” respectively. They provide the visitor information about the units which took part in the liberation of the area. The backgrounds are colored concrete with various brilliantly-colored aggregates into which have been set bronze lettering, other metal features, enameled panels, etc.
The chapel, is at the east end of the museum, separated by a low granite divider and wrought-iron gates
The face of the granite divider bears this inscription:
O LORD SUPPORT US ALL THE DAY LONG UNTIL THE SHADOWS LENGTHEN AND OUR WORK IS DONE * THEN IN THY MERCY GRANT US A SAFE LODGING AND PEACE AT THE LAST.
The altar is of French Hauteville Perle limestone from the Jura region. High above it is a large stained-glass window in the shape of a sexfoil. Centered in the window is the Great Seal of the United States. Above the window is engraved the inscription from Exodus XVI:7:
IN THE MORNING YE SHALL SEE THE GLORY OF THE LORD.
On the wall, above the altar and below the window, hangs a blue and gold damask. Centered on the altar is a Latin cross flanked by two candlesticks. At the altar base rest the Tablets of Moses.
The tablets of the missing, emanating from the gently curved walls of the terrace are inscribed the name, rank, organization, and State of 498 of our Missing. They gave their lives in the service of their country but their remains were either never recovered or if recovered not positively identified. One, later recovered, is denoted by a bronze rosette. They came from the District of Columbia, Canada and every State of the Union except Alaska, Hawaii, Nevada and New Hampshire.
On the walls below the flagstaffs is this inscription together with the French translation:
HERE ARE RECORDED THE NAMES OF AMERICANS WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN THE SERVICE OF THEIR COUNTRY AND WHO SLEEP IN UNKNOWN GRAVES 1941 - 1945.
These inscription panels are of Beaumont stone from Southwestern France.
The graves area, contains the remains of 4,410 American military Dead who lost their lives in the area of Northwestern France extending from the beachhead westward to Brest and eastward to the Seine. They represent 43 percent of the burials originally made in the region. Their 4,408 headstones are set in 16 fan shaped plots, curving from the central mall. These Dead, who gave their lives in our country's service, came from every State in the Union, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, and Alaska as well as Canada. Ninety-five of the headstones mark the graves of "Unknowns" whose remains could not be positively identified. Two of these graves contain the remains of two Unknowns who could not be separated. Here also, in twenty instances, two brothers rest side by side. At the far (west) end of the mall is a rectangular stone cenotaph of La Pyrie granite. Carved upon it in bas relief are a torch and laurel wreath and the words
"PRO PATRIA 1941-1945."
The plantings, include many shade trees planted between the hawthorn hedge, which surrounds the cemetery, and the interior hedge of boxwood, which encloses the graves area plots. In the broad grass walks dividing the grave plots are flowering trees which bloom from late spring far into the summer. The central mall of the cemetery and the perimeter of the grave plots are lined with rows of European Chestnut. A number of rose beds and blooming shrubs such as rhododendron are grown in various locations and provide a colorful aspect.
The architect, for the cemetery and its memorial was William T. Aldrich of Boston, Massachusetts. The landscape architects were Shurcliff and Shurcliff, also of Boston. The sculpture group "Youth Triumphing over Evil" as well as the group over the memorial entrance door were designed by Lee Lawrie of Easton, Maryland. Construction of the cemetery completed, it was dedicated during a ceremony on 20 July 1956.