UK Iconamrr logo 75 wrtngMADINGLEY AMERICAN WAR CEMETERY

 

The Cemetery

 

The above video is courtesy of the War Cemetery official website. It tells you a small bit about the Cemetery.

Location

The Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial is situated three miles west of the university city of Cambridge, on highway A1303 and 60 miles north of London, England. The cemetery is easily reached by Motorcycle using the M11 coming off at exit 13 (northbound only, for southbound traffic you will need to exit at junction 12 and re-enter the M11 northbound to then exit at junction 13). Then travelling westbound on the A1303 towards the village of Madingley. It is here, between the village and the motorway that you have just left that you will find the cemetery.

History

When the United States entered World War II, it was apparent that Germany, with its great military and industrial strength, posed the strongest threat of the Axis powers and should be dealt with first. Its defeat hinged on achieving four major objectives, for each of which effective use of Great Britain was a key factor. In the attainment of these objectives, the country became a vast supply depot, military base, air base and training and staging facility. During the war, more than 17 million tons of cargo and nearly two million servicemen and women from the United States passed through British ports. Many military bases and training areas were established throughout the British Isles to Receive the forces which later were to achieve such spectacular results on the beaches of Normandy. At the same time, airfields were enlarged and additional Bases constructed for use by U.S. Army Air Forces. The first objective in the war against Germany was to provide the United Kingdom with the resources needed to carry on until sufficient men, materials and supplies could be assembled for a cross-channel invasion of Europe. To do so, the Atlantic sea-lanes had to be made safe for the passage of Allied convoys between Great Britain and theUnited States. The battle for the Atlantic continued from 1939 to 1945, when the last German U-boats surrendered. This costly, but generally successful, struggle gave the Allies control of the sea lanes between the United States and Great Britain, which was essential to the success of Allied operations in Europe. The second objective was to aid and sustain other nations actively engaged against the Axis, particularly the U.S.S.R., which at the time was receiving the brunt of the enemy's land assaults. A "second front" was opened in North Africa in November 1942 to relieve the pressure against the U.S.S.R. Allied forces from bases in both Great Britain and the United States landed in North Africa and fought their way inland in the face of determined enemy resistance. Six months later, victory in North Africa was achieved when all enemy forces there surrendered. The operations in North Africa were followed by Allied landings in Sicily, Salerno and Anzio during 1943 and 1944. Victories in Sicily and Italy were paralleled by Soviet successes in the East, with the winning of the battle for Stalingrad in February 1943 and the liberation of Sevastopol in May 1944. One month later, Allied forces entered Rome, and the landing in Normandy commenced. The third objective during the war against Germany was to conduct an intensive strategic bombardment of Germany in order to destroy its military, industrial and economic systems. Achievement of this objective depended on the use of air bases within the British Isles. As the airfields were constructed and expanded, the air war against Germany intensified. The first American strategic bombing against a target in Europe took place in August 1942. By the end of the war, more than one half million sorties against targets in western Europe were flown by British-based American aircraft.The final objective was to invade the European continent and defeat the enemy on its historic battlefields. U.S. and British Commonwealth forces landed on the beaches of Normandy on 6 June 1944 in what was to be the greatest amphibious operation in the history of warfare. Supported by U.S. and British aircraft, the Allied ground forces fought their way across France and crossed into Germany in September of 1944. With the Allied victory in Europe on 8 May 1945, the struggle against the enemy in the Pacific was intensified. Confronted by overwhelming military superiority, its major cities devastated and weakened by the defeat of the Axis in Europe, Japan surrendered on 2 September 1945.

The Site

The Cambridge American Cemetery, 30.5 acres in extent, is one of fourteen permanent American World War II military cemetery memorials erected on foreign soil by the American Battle Monuments Commission. It was established as a temporary military cemetery in 1943 on land donated by the University of Cambridge. The site was later selected as the only permanent American World War II military cemetery in the British Isles and was dedicated 16 July 1956. About 42 percent of those temporarily interred in England and Northern Ireland during the war were reinterred in the Cambridge American Cemetery. A high proportion of these 3,812 American servicemen and women were crew members of British-based American aircraft. Most of the others interred at the cemetery died in the invasions of North Africa and France, in the training areas of the United Kingdom and in the waters of the Atlantic. The cemetery is situated on the north slope of a hill from which Ely Cathedral, 14 miles distant, can be seen on clear days. It is framed by woodland on the west and south; the road to Madingley runs along the cemetery's northern boundary.

General Layout

The main entrance is at the southwest corner of the cemetery. Immediately inside it is the Visitors' Building. On the porch wall of the Visitors' Building is a bronze tablet from the grateful people of the English communities of Cheshunt and Waltham Cross which honors the members of an American bomber crew who sacrificed themselves in order to avoid abandoning their disabled aircraft over these communities. Just beyond the Visitors' Building is a 72- foot flagpole on a tall platform whose base is inscribed with the following quotation from John McCrae's poem, In Flanders Fields:

TO YOU FROM FAILING HANDS
WE THROW THE TORCH –
BE YOURS TO HOLD IT HIGH

The platform affords an excellent view of the cemetery. The great mall, with its reflecting pools bordered by polyantha roses, stretches eastward from the flagpole platform to the Memorial at the opposite end. Along the south side of the mall are the Tablets of the Missing. The north side, toward the graves area, is lined with a single row of double-pink hawthorn trees. The west mall stretches northward from the flagpole platform to the lower gates of the cemetery and the service area. The broad walk passes between rows of Japanese pagoda trees. The grave plots lie between the two malls. From the lower end of the west mall, a gravel walk turns to the right and follows the curve of the lower plot toward the Memorial. In this area are planted Rose of Sharon, firethorn, forsythia and cotoneaster.

The Memorial

The Memorial structure is of Portland stone, as are St. Paul's Cathedral and many other monumental buildings in London. It is 85 feet long, 30 feet wide and 28 feet high. On the north face of the Memorial are five pylons, each inscribed with one of the years from 1941 to 1945, during which the Unites States participated in World War II. Above these pylons runs the inscription:

GRANT UNTO THEM O LORD ETERNAL REST

Below the bronze rope railing on the north face balcony is inscribed:

IN GRATEFUL TRIBUTE TO THEIR SACRIFICE AND
IN PROUD MEMORY OF THEIR VALOR

The entrance to the Memorial at the west end is framed by two pylons. On the pediment above them is the dedication:

TO THE GLORY OF GOD AND
IN MEMORY OF THOSE
WHO DIED FOR THEIR COUNTRY
1941-1945

The main entrance doors are of teakwood. They bear bronze models of the following military equipment and naval vessels:

Military Equipment
Armored Scout Car M8
Truck ¼ Ton 4x4
90 Millimeter Antiaircraft Gun
155 Millimeter Gun M2
Medium Tank M4
Motor Carriage, Multiple Gun, M16
Amphibious Truck 2 ½ Ton DUKW
105 Millimeter Howitzer

Naval Vessels
Destroyer
Light Cruiser
Attack Transport
Landing ship, Tank
Battleship
Escort Carrier

On the south exterior wall of the Memorial is a great map of the United Kingdom with the inscription:

THESE AND MANY OTHER SITES WERE LENT BY
THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED KINGDOM
TO THE ARMED FORCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
IN ORDER THAT THEY MIGHT PREPARE AND SUPPORT
THEIR GREAT MILITARY ASSAULTS
1941-1945

It depicts each location in the United Kingdom where an American unit of battalion or larger size was stationed during World War II. The places where units of brigade size or larger were stationed are indicated by name. The map also shows the principal air and sea approach routes to Great Britain from the United States, and the invasion routes to North Africa in 1942 and to Normandy in 1944. It is embellished with the sculptured coats of arms of the United States and the United Kingdom. The significance of the signs and colors used is explained in the legend. Worksheets for the map were furnished by the American Battle Monuments Commission; execution was by the English artist David Kindersley of Cambridge. The interior of the Memorial is separated into a large museum room and a small devotional chapel at the far end. The outstanding feature of the museum room is its impressive map "The Mastery of the Atlantic – The Great Air Assault." The map was designed by the American artist Herbert Gute from data prepared by the American Battle Monuments Commission and indicates the principal sea routes across the Atlantic and the types of naval and commercial craft which bore men and munitions to Europe from the United States. It also recalls the aircraft which operated in the anti-submarine campaign. The continuous air assaults by the U.S. and Royal Air Force over Europe are also depicted. Symbolic air lanes indicate their routes from both England and Italy to the various targets, whose nature military, industrial, transportation are explained in the legend. The map is 30 feet long, 18 feet high. The wall bearing the map is of Portland stone. On the map, the lower land elevations are indicated in polished Portland stone, while the higher elevations are in polished Hauteville marble, Lunel Clair marble and Lunel Fonce marble, respectively. This unusual work of art was executed by David Kindersley's workshop. Below the map are seven plates, six of which contain key map recording the development of the war against Germany and the war against Japan. The seventh, a bronze plaque in the center, bears the following description of the operations portrayed by the great map:

THRUST INTO A GLOBAL WAR WITH THE AXIS POWERS, THE UNITED
STATES, AT THE CLOSE OF 1941, MOVED TO STRENGTHEN ITS DEFENSE
POSITIONS IN THE ATLANTIC AND PACIFIC OCEANS. THE PROTECTION
AND CONTROL OF SEA AND AIR ROUTES ACROSS THE ATLANTIC, SO VITAL
TO THE ALLIES' HOPES OF VICTORY, WERE CONCERNS OF UNCEASING
URGENCY. THE UNITED STATES NAVY JOINED WITH THE ROYAL NAVY IN
THIS BITTERLY CONTESTED BATTLE; U.S ARMY AND MARINE CORPS
UNITS WERE DISPATCHED TO STRENGTHEN KEY OUTPOSTS IN THE NORTH
ATLANTIC AND TO REINFORCE THE DEFENSE OF THE UNITED KINGDOM.
WHILE THE ENEMY MADE EVERY EFFORT TO SEVER THE LIFELINES TO
THE BRITISH ISLES, THE ALLIED NAVIES FOUGHT TO KEEP THE SEA LANES
OPEN, TO CONVOY TROOPS AND MILITARY AND CIVILIAN SUPPLIES
ACROSS THE ATLANTIC AND TO MAINTAIN THE LONG RUN TO NORTH
RUSSIA TO SUSTAIN THE SOVIET FORCES.
CONTINUOUSLY THE ALLIES STROVE TO DEVELOP AND IMPROVE
THEIR ANTISUBMARINE TACTICS, TO PROVIDE ADEQUATE ESCORT AND
AIR COVERAGE TO THEIR CONVOYS. THE COORDINATED EMPLOYMENT
OF LAND-BASED AIRPOWER AND OF ESCORT CARRIER AND DESTROYER
GROUPS, TOGETHER WITH DEVELOPMENTS IN DETECTION DEVICES,
GRADUALLY DROVE THE ENEMY'S SUBMARINES FROM THE PRINCIPAL
SEA ROUTES.
THIS WAR OF ATTRITION ON, ABOVE, AND BELOW THE WATERS OF
THE ATLANTIC STEADILY TURNED IN FAVOR OF THE ALLIES.
IN NOVEMBER 1942, ALLIED FORCES LANDED ON THE SHORES OF
NORTH AFRICA. THIS SUCCESSFUL OPERATION INVOLVED THE
SIMULTANEOUS DEBARKMENT OF ATTACK TEAMS TRANSPORTED FROM
THE UNITED STATES AND THE UNITED KINGDOM.
THROUGHOUT THE BATTLE OF THE ATLANTIC THE UNITED STATES
ARMY AIR FORCES OVERSEAS CONTINUED TO GROW IN THE URGENT
EFFORT TO BUILD OVERWHELMING AIR STRENGTH. THE FIRST AMERICAN
STRATEGIC BOMBING MISSION WAS UNDERTAKEN IN AUGUST 1942. BY
THE SUMMER OF 1943 THE U.S. EIGHTH AIR FORCE WAS CONDUCTING
LARGE-SCALE DAYLIGHT BOMBING ATTACKS; THE ROYAL AIR FORCE
CONTINUED TO FLY MISSIONS AT NIGHT. THE OBJECTIVE WAS THE
PROGRESSIVE DISLOCATION AND DESTRUCTION OF THE ENEMY'S
MILITARY, INDUSTRIAL AND ECONOMIC SYSTEM. EVER PRESENT WAS
THE NECESSITY OF BEATING DOWN THE GERMAN FIGHTERS WHICH
ATTACKED OUR HEAVY BOMBERS FIERCELY AND PERSISTENTLY.
WITH THE ALLIED LANDINGS IN ITALY IN SEPTEMBER 1943 CAME
OPPORTUNITY FOR ATTACK FROM ANOTHER DIRECTION. THE U.S.
FIFTEENTH AIR FORCE JOINED WITH THE EIGHTH TO FORM THE U.S.
STRATEGIC AIR FORCES IN EUROPE. MASSIVE ATTACKS ON CRITICAL
INDUSTRIAL TARGETS FORCED THE GERMAN AIR FORCE TO FIGHT FOR
THEIR PROTECTION. IN A SERIES OF VIOLENT BATTLES THE ENEMY AIR
ARM WAS BROKEN, NEVER AGAIN TO BE A SERIOUS MENACE IN MARCH
1944 THE U.S. NINTH AIR FORCE AND THE BRITISH SECOND TACTICAL AIR
FORCE INITIATED CONCENTRATED ATTACKS ON THE ENEMY'S
TRANSPORTATION SYSTEMS AND COASTAL DEFENSES IN BELGIUM AND
NORTHERN FRANCE. THE U.S. EIGHTH AIR FORCE, WHILE CONTINUING ITS
STRATEGIC ATTACK, AUGMENTED THIS ASSAULT.
ON 6 JUNE 1944, ALLIED FORCES CROSSED THE ENGLISH CHANNEL TO
STORM THE BEACHES OF NORMANDY IN THE GREATEST AMPHIBIOUS
OPERATION RECORDED IN HISTORY. THE ABSENCE OF SERIOUS NAVAL
AND AIR OPPOSITION ATTESTED TO THE EFFECTIVENESS OF ALLIED
OPERATIONS DURING THE LONG MONTHS OF PREPARATION THAT HAD
PRECEDED THE LANDINGS. FOLLOWING THE SUCCESS OF THIS ASSAULT,
THOUSANDS OF MEN AND MILLIONS OF TONS OF SUPPLIES WERE MOVED
OVER THESE BEACHES THROUGH ARTIFICIALLY CREATED HARBORS.
WITH NAVAL GUNFIRE AND AIR SUPPORT, BEACHEADS WERE
CONSOLIDATED AND THE ALLIED ARMIES MOVED FORWARD.
THROUGH THE REMAINING MONTHS OF THE WAR THE ALLIED
MILITARY STRENGTH CREW STEADILY AS TROOPS, EQUIPMENT AND
SUPPLIES FLOWED ACROSS THE ATLANTIC. THE COMBINED BOMBER
OFFENSIVE CONTINUED TO STRIKE AT STRATEGIC MILITARY AND
INDUSTRIAL TARGETS WITH EVERMOUNTING INTENSITY AS THE GROUND
FORCES PUSHED ONWARD INTO GERMANY.
ON 8 MAY 1945, 337 DAYS AFTER THE LANDINGS IN NORMANDY,
CAME VICTORY IN EUROPE.

The seals of the War and Navy Departments as well as the principal decorations awarded by our Armed Services are depicted in glass panels beside and above the main door to the Memorial. The decorations shown are listed below:


War Department
Air Medal
Distinguished Flying Cross
Silver Star
Distinguished Service Cross
Medal of Honor – Army
Distinguished Service Medal – Army
Soldier's Medal
Navy Department
Purple Heart
Bronze Star
Legion of Merit
Navy Cross
Medal of Honor – Navy
Distinguished Service Medal – Navy
Navy and Marine Corps Medal

The other windows of the Memorial contain stained-glass replicas of the seals of the States of the Union arranged from left to right, in the order in which they entered the Union. Above them are the seals of the United States (obverse and reverse), the District of Columbia, Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Over the teakwood doorway to the chapel is the following inscription in bronze characters: INTO THY HANDS O LORD. The words FAITH and HOPE in bronze letters are set into the chancel rail in the chapel. A cloth of mail is spread over the Portland stone altar on which rests a large bronze cross. At the altar base rests the Tablets of Moses. Flanking the altar are two large ornamental candelabra, also embellished with mosaic. A mosaic by Francis Scott Bradford of Cornwall Bridge, Connecticut depicting the Archangel trumpeting the arrival of the Resurrection and the Last Judgment covers the wall above the altar and continues across the entire ceiling of the Memorial, with pictures of ghostly aircraft, accompanied by mourning angels, making their final flight. The deep blue of the ceiling denotes the depth of infinity, while the lighter colors reflect the light of Heaven breaking through the earthly layers of the sky. The lighter nimbus surrounding each of the single-engine, twin-engine and four-engine aircraft separates them from earthly forces while they carry the souls of the men who perished in the skies. Around the ceiling is the following inscription:

IN PROUD AND GRATEFUL MEMORY OF THOSE MEN OF THE UNITED
STATES ARMY AIR FORCE WHO FROM THESE FRIENDLY ISLES FLEW THEIR
FINAL FLIGHT AND MET THEIR GOD. THEY KNEW NOT THE HOUR THE DAY
NOR THE MANNER OF THEIR PASSING. WHEN FAR FROM HOME THEY
WERE CALLED TO JOIN THAT HERIOIC BAND OF AIRMEN WHO HAD GONE
BEFORE. MAY THEY REST IN PEACE.

The ship and aircraft depicted above the altar memorialize the members of the navel sea and air forces who are buried or commemorated at the cemetery. The cross and Star of David symbolize those who are buried beneath the ground. Mourning angels and the inscription from the 23rd Psalm:

HE RESTORETH MY SOUL –
HE MAKETH ME TO LIE DOWN IN GREEN PASTURES

also enter into the design.

The Tablets of the Missing

The Table of the Missing are inscribed on a wall of Portland stone, a limestone quarried on the south coast of England, 472 feet in length. Recorded on the Tablets are the names and particulars of 5,126 Missing in Action, lost or buried at sea, or those "Unknowns" whose remains could not be positively identified prior to interment. They come from every state of the Union and the District of Columbia.

United States Army and Army Air Forces................3,524
United States Navy...................................................1,371
United States Coast Guard........................................ 201
United States Marine Corps...................................... 30

At the top of the wall above the names, running its full length, is the following extract from the dedication by President Eisenhower of the Golden Book enshrined in St. Paul's Cathedral, London:

THE AMERICANS, WHOSE NAMES HERE APPEAR,
WERE PART OF THE PRICE THAT FREE MEN
FOR THE SECOND TIME IN THIS CENTURY
HAVE BEEN FORCED TO PAY TO DEFEND
HUMAN LIBERTY AND RIGHTS
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 THE HIGH RESOLVE THAT THE CAUSE FOR WHICH THEY DIED
SHALL LIVE ETERNALLY

Along the wall are four statues designed by Wheeler Williams of New York, New York and carved by English craftsmen; a soldier, a sailor, an airman and a Coast Guardsman. The paving is of English York sandstone.

The Graves Area

The 3,809 headstones in the fan shaped graves area are arranged in seven curved grave plots, A-G. The headstones within the plots are aligned in seven rows of concentric arcs whose wide sweep across the green lawns may be best viewed from the mall near the Memorial. From the north edge of the flagpole platform another feature of the pattern is evident – the headstones are also aligned like the spokes of a wheel. Each grave plot is enclosed by a boxwood hedge with tulip trees, catalpa, beech, oak and liquidambar (sweetgum) also present. These Dead, who gave their lives in our country's service, came from every state in the Union, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Philippines. Some also entered the services from Canada, Chile, Denmark, England, Greece, Holland, Malta, Norway, Panama, Portugal and Scotland. Twenty-four of the headstones mark the graves of "Unknowns." Among the headstones are two which represent burials of two and three servicemen, respectively, whose names are known but who could not be separately identified. Their remains are buried together; bronze tables over the graves record their names.

Visitors' Building

Immediately inside the main entrance to the cemetery is the Visitors' Building. It contains the Superintendent's office, toilet facilities and a comfortably furnished room where visitors may obtain information, sign the register and pause to refresh themselves. During visiting hours a member of the cemetery staff is available in the building to answer questions and provide information on burials and memorializations in the Commission's cemeteries, accommodations in the vicinity, travel, local history and other items of interest.

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