American Cemetery North Africa (TU)

Entry Cemetery North Africa, Tunisia.

 

 

The cemetery site covers 27 acres of the Plateau lying between the Mediterranean sea and the Bay of Tunis, both of which are a mile or so distant. It is located near the site of the ancient Carthaginian city destroyed by the Romans in 146 BC and lies over part of the site of Roman Carthage. After World War II a survey made jointly by representatives of the Secretary of War and the American Battle Monuments Commission revealed that all the sites of the temporary cemeteries established in North Africa had major disadvantages. The present site was established in 1948. It lies in the sector of the British First Army which liberated Tunis in May 1943. Construction of the cemetery and memorial was completed in 1960. Here rest 2,841 of our Military Dead, representing 39 percent of the burials which were originally made in North Africa and Iran. A high proportion of these gave their lives in the landings in, and occupation of Morocco and Algeria, and in subsequent fighting which culminated in the liberation of Tunisia. Others died as a result of accident or sickness in these and other parts of North Africa, or while serving in the Persian Gulf Command in Iran. Architects for the cemetery and memorial were Moore and Hutchins of New York City, New York. The landscape architect was Bryan J. Lynch, also of New York. The main entrance from the eucalyptus-bordered highway is at the Southeast corner of the cemetery. To the right of the entrance is one of the superintendentís houses, beyond is the oval forecourt. Beneath the green plot in the center of the forecourt is the reservoir which stores the water for the cemetery needs, as well as the pumps which operate the high pressure sprinkling system. Down the hill and beyond the forecourt is the utilities area. In the forecourt are rows of eucalyptus and ornamental India laurel fig (ficus nitida) trees. The beds include pittosporum tobira, scarlet hibiscus, lantana camara, English Ivy, Cassia floribunda, orangeberry pittosporum and other shrubs and vines. Extending to the left (west) of the forecourt and parking is the mall. At the head of the steps leading to the mall, and at the right (North) is the Visitor's building, built of Roman travertine marble imported from Italy; west of it is the flagpole. On the south side of the mall are the Tablets of the Missing; at its far (West) end is the memorial chapel. North of the mall is the graves area which it overlooks. South of the highway is an additional area used for service purposes. On the west facade of the Visitor's building is the inscription taken from General Eisenhower's dedication of the Golden Book now enshrined in St. Paul's cathedral in London:

HERE WE AND ALL WHO SHALL HEREAFTER LIVE IN FREEDOM WILL BE 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.

 

Within the Visitor's building is a Roman mosaic discovered in the region and donated in 1959 by President Bourguiba of Tunisia to Ambassador G. Lewis Jones, who in turn presented it to the cemetery. The Tablets of the Missing consists of a wall 364 feet long of local Nahli limestone, with local Gathouna limestone copings. Built into it are panels of Trani limestone imported from Italy on which are inscribed the names and particulars of 3,724 of the Missing: United States Army and Army Air Forces 3095, United States Navy 615, United States Coast Guard 14. These men and woman gave their lives in the service of their country, but their remains either were not identified or they were lost or buried at sea in the waters surrounding the African continent At each end of the tablets is the inscription:

      

HERE ARE RECORDED THE NAMES OF AMERICANS WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN THE SERVICE OF THEIR COUNTRY AND WHO SLEEP IN UNKNOWN GRAVES 1941-45 INTO THY HANDS O LORD.

 

Near the foot of the steps leading down from the forecourt is a pool and figure of HONOR about to bestow a laurel branch upon those who gave their lives: The figure's pedestal bears this inscription:

HONOR TO THEM THAT TROD THE PATH OF HONOR.

 

 

 

Along the wall are two other sculptured figures: MEMORY and RECOLLECTION, the latter holding a book with the inscription PRO PATRIA. Between these figures are oak leaf wreaths within which are engraved the names of battles on land, sea and in the air, in which the Americans forces participated: ORAN, CASABLANCA, ALGIERS, KASSERINE, EL GUETTAR, SIDI NSIR, BIZERTE, SICILY, PLOESTI. The sculptures are of Bianco Caldo stone from near Foggia, Italy. The design was made by Henry Kreis of Essex, Connecticut, and executed by Piero Bibolotti, Pietrasanta, Italy. Planted in front of the Tablets of the Missing are rows of India laurel fig trees in beds of English ivy. On the north side of the terrace are potted pink geraniums adjacent to a row of holly oaks in beds of ivy. The memorial consists of the Court of Honor and the chapel: The court of Honor is in the form of a cloister. Within it is a large rectangular stone of remembrance of black Diorite d' Anzola quarried in northwest Italy; this inscription adapted from Ecclesesticus XLIV, is worked into the design of the mosaic panel surrounding the base:

SOME THERE BY WHICH HAVE NO SEPULCHRE. THERE NAME LIVETH FUR EVERMORE .

The rectangular pylons of the cloister are of San Gottardo limestone from the vicinity of Vicenza, Italy; the main part of the structure of the memorial is faced with Roman travertine. The pavement of Sienite della Balma granite from northwest Italy. In the southwest corner is a Russian olive tree. On the west wall of the cloister facing the mall is this inscription with translations in French and Arabic:

1941-1945 - IN PROUD REMEMBRANCE OF T'HE ACHIEVEMENTS OF HER SONS AND IN HUMBLE TRIBUTE TO THEIR SACRIFICES THIS MEMORIAL HAS BEEN ERECTED BY THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

 

At the south end of the cloister are the maps. These maps are of ceramic designed and fabricated by Paul D. Holleman of Roxbury, Massachusetts, from information supplied by the American Battle Monuments Commission. The large map on the end (south) wall records the military operations of the American forces and those of the Allies in Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia from the initial "Torch" landings on 8 November 1942 to the Axis surrender on 13 May 1943. The descriptive text is in English, Arabic, and French. On this wall also are two series of key maps  "The war against Germany" and "The war against Japan". As indicated by the texts, the map on the cast wall records in greater detail the operations in central and southern Tunisia, while the one on the opposite (west) wall covers die final stages in northern Tunisia. The map on the west pylon portrays most of Africa, the Mediterranean and the Middle East. It records the air ferry routes across Africa as well as the operations of the Persian Gulf Command. The descriptive text for this map, also in English, French, and. Arabic, is on the face Of the corresponding East pylon. The bronze doors and the windows of the chapel were fabricated by the Morris Singer Company of London, England. At the far end of the chapel which is lighted by the tall window on the right and a row of lower windows on the left is the altar of white Carrara marble, with this inscription from St. John 10:28

I GIVE UNTO THEM ETERNAL, LIFE AND THEY SHALL NEVER PERISCH.

 

The wall behind the altar is of polished Rosso Porfirico marble from near Udine in northeastern Italy. Facing the door, on the Wing wall projecting from the right is the sculpture sacrifice carved in Italian Bianco Caldo stone, designed by Henry Kreis and executed by Pietro Bibolotti. Below and to its left is the inscription from Shelley's ode "Adonais":  

"HE HAS OUTSOARED THE SHADOW OF OUR NIGHT".

To the left of the altar are the United States national flag, and Christian, and Jewish chapel flags: projecting  from the East wall above the pews are the flags of combat arms: Infantry, Field Artillery, Air Corps, Armor, and Navy Infantry. Beneath the flags is this prayer:

AL, MIGHTY GOD, RECEIVE THESE THY HEROIC SERVANTS INTO THY KINGDOM

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The ceiling is of Moroccan cedar, the pews and prie-dieu are of walnut. Three flower boxes of teak wood, with bronze appurtenances, are located under the west windows of the chapel, North of the chapel, down a flight of steps from the cloister, is the memorial garden with its pool, the plants include latana, poinciana, pink geraniums, and a Jerusalem thorn tree. Beyond is the graves area. The 2,833 headstones in the rectangular graves area are divided, into nine plots designated A to I. They are arranged in rectangular lines harmonizing with the rectangular composition of the cemetery and memorial. The 2,841 burials in the cemetery include 240 unknowns. Among the headstones is one which marks the tomb of seven Americans whose identity is unknown (E≠-5-16)Two adjacent headstones mark the graves of four men whose names are known, but whose remains could not be separately identified (I-10-4&5); a bronze tablet between these graves records their names.

Also in this cemetery, in four instances; two brothers are buried side by side (I-12-9&10, both were killed 24 Dec 1942 (H-7-14&15), and (F-19-1&2). Medal of Honor Recipient PVT. Nicholas Minue is interred in E-8-4, Woman's Army Corps PVT Celia Goldberg in C-11-13  In the burial area are four fountains and pools of Roman travertine with their surrounding vegetation of rosemary, oleander, and pink geraniums form small and welcome oases in this frequently hot climate. The paths are lined either by India laurel fig trees or California pepper trees. The border massifs contain a wide variety of trees and shrubs in which oleanders and hibiscus are predominant. The grass in the cemetery is kikuyu. It can sustain the heat of this region with minimum water. The entire graves and memorial areas are surrounded beyond the inner walls by massifs of trees and shrubbery in which these predominate: pyramidal cypress, aleppo pine, eucalyptus, cassowary, Moreton Bay fig, golden wattle acacia as well as weavers broom and numerous oleanders.

 

   

 

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