American Cemetery Meusse-Argonne (Fr)
The cemetery, 130 ½ acres in extent, was established 14 October 1918 by the American Graves Registration Service on terrain captured by the 32nd Infantry Division. The use
of the land on which it rests has been granted by the French government free of charge or taxation in perpetuity, as an expression of its gratitude to the United States. In 1943,
administration of the cemetery passed to the American Battle Monuments Commission. The Commission, whose functions are described in the latter pages of this booklet,
landscaped the cemetery grounds and erected the memorial chapel and other structures.
The architects for the cemetery and memorial were York and Sawyer of New York, New York.
The cemetery is generally rectangular in shape with three-quarters of its area devoted to the grave plots and memorial chapel. The memorial chapel is located on the high ground to the south. A grassy east-west entrance mall 600 yards long runs through the small valley across which the cemetery is located separating the graves and memorial area from the Visitors’ Building and service area. There is an impressive entrance portal to the cemetery at each end of the east-west mall and a circular pool with a fountain at the center.
This attractive pool with its goldfish and flowering lilies is a constant source of interest to visitors. A road borderedby a double avenue of beech trees runs from each portal and encircles the mall. Aperimeter road encircles the graves area and the service area. Four rectangular grave plots are located on each side of the mall leading from the pool to the memorial chapel. The grave plots are framed by squaretrimmed linden trees. These trees are especially beautiful in the fall when their leaves are changing color. Over 65 varieties of evergreen shrubs and trees plus many varieties of flowers complete the tranquil beauty of this cemetery. A stone wall more than 1 ½ miles long encircles the cemetery.
The memorial, a fine example of Romanesque architecture, faces north on the crest of a gently sloping hillside overlooking the graves area. It consists of a memorial chapel and
two flanking loggias, on whose walls are engraved the names of those servicemen and women missing in the area and also those missing in northern Russia. The memorial’s
exterior walls and columns are of Euville Coquiller stone; its interior walls are of Salamandre travertine.
High above the main entrance to the chapel, on the exterior wall, is carved the following:
DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF THOSE WHO DIED FOR THEIR COUNTRY.
On the lintel directly over the chapel entrance is inscribed:
IN SACRED SLEEP THEY REST.
A sculpture bas-relief by L. Bottiau, Paris, France, with figures representing Grief and Remembrance appears above it in the tympanum. The beautiful
bronze filigreed screen of the imposing entrance doors was cast by Henry Hope and Sons, Birmingham, England. Alongside the door, carved heads of American soldiers are
included in the design of the column capitals. Across the ends and front of the loggias above the arches are names of places famous in the history of the American fighting in
PONT-MAUGIS – BOIS-DE-CUNEL – MEUSE – CIERGES – BOIS-DES-RAPPES –CONSENVOYE – EXERMONT – GRAND-PRE – MEUSE HEIGHTS –
BARRICOURT-HEIGHTS – GESNES – MONTFAUCON – CORNAY – BOIS-DEFORET– STENAY – ARGONNE – CHEPPY – COTE-DE-CHATILLON.
Inside the chapel on the wall above the right entryway is the inscription:
THIS CHAPEL IS ERECTED BY THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AS A SACRED RENDEZVOUS OF A GRATEFUL PEOPLE WITH ITS IMMORTAL
The same text appears in French on the wall above the left entrance. On entering the chapel, one’s attention is immediately drawn to the apse, in the center of which is the altar backed by a semi-circle of flags of the United States and the principal Allied nations. The insignia of many of the American divisions and large units which served in the
AEF are reproduced in its stained glass windows which were executed by Heinigke and Smith, New York, New York. Shown in the window of the west wall are:
I CORPS, GENERAL HEADQUARTERS, III CORPS, 1ST DIVISION, ADVANCE
SECTION S.O.S., 30TH DIVISION, 3RD DIVISION, 7TH DIVISION, 35TH DIVISION,
5TH DIVISION, 26TH DIVISION, 32ND DIVISION, 4TH DIVISION, 28TH DIVISION,
36TH DIVISION, 6TH DIVISION, 29TH DIVISION, 37 TH DIVISION, 2ND DIVISION,
27TH DIVISION AND 33RD DIVISION.
The window of the east wall includes:
IV CORPS, FIRST ARMY, V CORPS, 41ST DIVISION, 80TH DIVISION, 88TH
DIVISION, 77TH DIVISION, 84TH DIVISION, 91ST DIVISION, 78TH DIVISION, 83RD
DIVISION, 90TH DIVISION, 89TH DIVISION, 85TH DIVISION, 92ND DIVISION, 42ND
DIVISION, 81ST DIVISION, 76TH DIVISION, 79TH DIVISION, 82ND DIVISION AND
Through these windows a soft and subdued light is diffused throughout the chapel’s interior and blends with the deep colors of the marble floor.
The names of 954 of the Missing who gave their lives in the service of their country, but whose remains were never recovered or identified are engraved on the
remaining panels of the two loggias. Above the names high on the center panel of each loggia is inscribed:
THE NAMES HERE RECORDED ARE THOSE OF AMERICAN SOLDIERS WHO FOUGHT IN THE REGION AND WHOSE EARTHLY RESTING PLACE IS KNOWN ONLY TO GOD.
Included among them, but inscribed on a separate panel in the east loggia are the names of the Missing of the Service of Supply. At the top of the panel is the inscription:
THE NAMES RECORDED ON THIS PANEL ARE THOSE OF AMERICAN SOLDIERS WHO DIED IN THE SERVICES OF SUPPLY DURING THE WORLD
WAR AND HAVE NO KNOWN GRAVES.
Similarly, in the west loggia a separate panel carries the names of the Missing from
the American expedition to Northern Russia under the inscription:
THE NAMES RECORDED ON THIS PANEL ARE THOSE OF AMERICAN
SOLDIERS WHO LOST THEIR LIVES IN NORTHERN RUSSIA DURING THE
WORLD WAR AND HAVE NO KNOWN GRAVES.
On the floors of the pavilions at the ends of the loggias are directional arrows pointing to prominent terrain features relating to the operations which took place in the
area. Also, from the ends of the loggias one can see, in the distance to the southeast, the dominating hill of Montfaucon with its imposing federal monument.
The graves area lies on the southern slope of the valley and is divided into eight rectangular plots lettered from A to H. Each plot is surrounded by square-trimmed linden
trees. Plots A, B, E and F are located on the east side of the grassy mall extending from the chapel to the circular pool and fountain below and C, D, G and H are on the west.
The carefully clipped grass of the mall and graves area gives the impression of a vast green velvet carpet. 14,246 War Dead are interred within the cemetery, 486 of whom are Unknowns. The cemetery contains no multiple burials. Each of the Dead has his own headstone of white marble, a Star of David for those of the Jewish faith and a Latin cross for all others. The immense array of headstones is arranged in long parallel rows beginning at the eastwest mall and extends row-on-row to the chapel crowning the ridge overlooking the graves area.