Guide to U.S. War Cemeteries and Memorials Located on Foreign Soil
There is no doubt that the U.S. Armed Forces is a truly global organization, with more than 300,000 active duty servicemembers deployed in more than 150 countries, and more than 800 bases operating in 70 countries. It’s not surprising, perhaps, that there are numerous cemeteries and memorials spread throughout the world honoring the U.S. soldiers, sailors, and airmen who have given the ultimate sacrifice on foreign soil.
While some are large and impressive, others are smaller, tucked away in small villages or on scenic overlooks. Many were established out of necessity during war, only later being formalized into official memorials. In any case, they are worth adding to your travel itinerary during your next international trip. The chance to pay respect to U.S. servicemembers in foreign countries reminds us that the fight for and support of freedom does not stop at the U.S. borders.
Location: Belleau, France
This 42-acre WWI cemetery is located in the foothills of Northern France, and is the final resting place for casualties from the Battle of Belleau Wood and the Battle of Château-Thierry, where many Americans lost their lives. The cemetery contains 2,288 burials, 251 of which contain unknown remains, while the memorial wall of the chapel (built over the location of the trenches from the battle) lists 1,060 soldiers missing in action.
Location: Ardennes, Belgium
One of 14 cemeteries for American World War II dead on foreign soil, this 90.5-acre cemetery and memorial contains the graves of 5,329 U.S. servicemembers. Many of these died during Nazi Germany's final major offensive in the west, the Battle of the Bulge, while others died in the advance to the Rhine and across Germany. Three-fifths of those buried in this cemetery were airmen.
Location: Brittany, France
Most of the 4,410 of World War II American soldiers buried at this 28-acre cemetery lost their lives in the Normandy and Brittany campaigns of 1944. This site also honors the names of more than 450 never recovered. Ninety-five of the headstones mark graves of "unknowns," with two of these graves containing the remains of two Unknowns that could not be separated. In 20 instances, two brothers are buried side by side.
Location: British Isles
The only American Military Cemetery of World War I located in the British Isles, this cemetery lies approximately 28 miles southwest of London, Brookwood. As a smaller cemetery, this 4.5-acre memorial serves as the final resting place to 468 American WWI servicemembers, including the graves of 41 Unknowns. The memorial chapel contains the engraved names of 563 missing, most of whom served in the United States Navy and Coast Guard, whose graves are in the sea.
Location: Cambridge, England
Located between the villages of Coton and Madingley, the 30.5-acre cemetery contains 3,809 headstones and the remains of 3,812 servicemen, including airmen who died over Europe and sailors from North Atlantic convoys. The inscribed Wall of the Missing records the names of 5,127 missing servicemen, most of who died in the Battle of the Atlantic or in the strategic air bombardment of northwest Europe.
Location: Dinozé, France
This 49-acre cemetery and memorial rests on a plateau overlooking the Moselle River in the foothills of the Vosges Mountains. It contains the graves of 5,255 of the United States' military dead, most of who lost their lives in the campaigns across northeastern France to the Rhine and beyond into Germany during World War II. It was originally established in established in October 1944 as the Army drove northward from southern France, and became the final resting place for the fatalities in the bitter fighting through the Heasbourg Gap.
Location: Waregem, Belgium
Flanders Field was immortalized by a famous poem penned by a battlefield physician that would one day lead to the wearing of red poppies on “Remembrance Day,” or Memorial Day in the United States. This six-acre cemetery is the only American World War I cemetery in Belgium and is the final resting place for 411 American servicemen buried or commemorated there. Many of them fell at Spitaals Bosschen, an action of the Ypres-Lys Campaign by the 91st Infantry Division in the closing days of World War I.
Location: Florenece, Italy
Most of the 4,402 U.S. servicemembers buried on this 70-acre site are from the Fifth Army who died in the fighting that followed the capture of Rome in June 1944; others fell in the heavy fighting in the Apennines that continued until May 1945. The memorial commemorates an additional 1,409 servicemembers who gave their lives in this area approximately 7.5 miles south of Florence. Three Medal of Honor recipients are also buried here.
Location: Liège, Belgium
One of three American war cemeteries located in Belgium, this 57-acre cemetery and memorial acts as the final resting place for 7,992 U.S. servicemembers who died in WWII. Most of these lost their lives during the advance of the U.S. armed forces into Germany, and their headstones are arranged in arcs stretching across a broad green lawn overlooking the rolling Belgian countryside that was once a battlefield.
Location: Moselle, France
Located just outside Saint-Avold, Moselle, France, this cemetery and memorial covers 113.5 acres and contains 10,489 graves, the largest number of any American World War II cemetery in Europe. Those interred died mostly in the autumn of 1944 during the drive to the Siegfried Line as the Americans sought to expel the Germans; they were mainly part of the U.S. Third and Seventh Armies.
Location: Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
This 50.5-acre site contains the remains of 5,076 American service members, most of who died during the Battle of the Bulge that was fought nearby in winter 1944-1945. On 22 occasions, two brothers rest side-by-side in adjacent graves. German fallen from the same battle are buried in the Sandweiler German war cemetery, about 1.5 kilometres away, marked with dark stone crosses compared to white tombstones of the American cemetery.
Location: Metro Manila, Philippines
Located in Fort Bonifacio, within the boundaries of the former Fort William McKinley, this 152-acre cemetery contains 17,206 graves, and has the largest number of graves of any cemetery for U.S. personnel killed during World War II. Many of the personnel whose remains are interred or represented were killed in New Guinea, or during the Battle of the Philippines (1941–42) or the Allied recapture of the islands. Twenty-three Medal of Honor recipients are buried or memorialized at the Manila cemetery. Also honored are the five Sullivan Brothers, who perished when their light cruiser was sunk in June 1942.
Location: Meuse, France
This 130.5-acre World War I cemetery is located east of the village of Romagne-sous-Montfaucon in Meuse, and contains the largest number of American military dead in Europe. Most of the 14,246 interred here lost their lives during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. The walls of the chapel include tablets of the missing which are inscribed with the names of those soldiers who fought in the region and in northern Russia, but have no known grave.
Location: Mexico City, Mexico
This small cemetery in the heart of Mexico City was established in 1851 by the United States Congress to gather the American dead of the Mexican-American War that lay in the nearby fields and to provide burial space for Americans who died in the vicinity. The remains of 813 Americans and others are interred in wall crypts on either side of the cemetery, and a small monument marks the common grave of 750 unidentified American dead of the War of 1847. The cemetery was closed to further burials in 1923.
Location: Margraten, Netherlands
This 65.5-acre site is located along the famous Cologne-Boulogne highway, originally built by the Romans and used by Julius Caesar. Hitler's legions advanced over the route in 1940, overwhelming the Low Countries, and later used it to withdraw four years later. The cemetery is the final resting place for 8,301 American dead, most of who lost their lives nearby. An additional 1,722 names of American missing are inscribed on the walls of the cemetery’s court of honor.
Location: Normandy, France
On June 8, 1944, the U.S. First Army established a nearby site as a temporary cemetery, the first American cemetery on European soil in World War II. After the war, the present-day cemetery was established a short distance to the east, in Colleville-sur-Mer. The cemetery is located on a bluff overlooking Omaha Beach, one of the Normandy Invasion landing beaches, and the English Channel. It covers 172 acres and contains the remains of 9,387 American military dead, most of who were killed during the invasion of Normandy. It includes the graves of Army Air Corps crews shot down over France as early as 1942, three American women, and the graves of two sons of President Theodore Roosevelt.
Location: Fère-en-Tardenois, Aisne, Picardy, France
Situated about 70 miles northeast of Paris, this 36.5-acre cemetery contains the graves of 6,012 American soldiers who died while fighting in this vicinity during World War I. 597 of these were not identified. The site also includes a monument for 241 Americans who were missing in action during battles in the same area and whose remains were never recovered. Included among the soldiers here who lost their lives is poet Joyce Kilmer.
Location: Draguignan, France
This American war cemetery in located in Southern France, memorializing American soldiers and mariners who died in Second World War operations in that area. The cemetery covers 12.5 acres and is named for the Rhone River and its watershed, where most of those interred fought and died. Those interred were mainly part of the U.S. Seventh Army – in particular the US 45th Infantry Division, the US 36th Infantry Division, and the US 3rd Infantry Division – and mostly died during the summer of 1944 during Operation Dragoon, the Allied invasion of Southern France from the Mediterranean, which followed the Allied invasion of Normandy.
Location: Nettuno, Italy
Established in Nettuno, Lazio, as a temporary wartime cemetery on January 24, 1944, two days after the landing at Anzio and Nettuno – codenamed Operation Shingle – the site covers 77 acres. A large field of headstones contains 7,861 graves of American military war dead. The majority of these men died in the liberation of Sicily, in the landings in the Salerno Area and at Anzio and Nettuno, and in air and naval support in the regions. The site also includes a chapels whose white marble walls contain the names of 3,095 of the missing.
Location: Bony, France
Situate 0.5 miles southwest of the commune of Bony, Aisne, in northern France, this cemetery is located on a gentle slope typical of the open, rolling Picardy countryside. The 14.3-acre cemetery was established in October 1918 on ground that saw heavy fighting just before and during the Battle of St Quentin Canal. It contains the graves of 1,844 U.S. military dead from World War I. Most lost their lives in the assault on the Hindenburg Line while serving in American II Corps attached to the British Fourth Army. Others were killed in operations near Cantigny. An additional 333 names are listed on the wall of the chapel, in remembrance of the missing.
Location: Thiaucourt, France
Located at the west edge of Thiaucourt (Meurthe-et-Moselle), France, the 40.5-acre cemetery contains the graves of 4,153 U.S. military dead from World War I. The majority of these died in the Battle of Saint-Mihiel, the offensive that resulted in the reduction of the St. Mihiel salient that threatened Paris. The onsite chapel and small museum records the names of 284 of the missing as well as a large map of inlaid marble depicting the St. Mihiel Offensive.
Location: Suresnes (Hauts-de-Seine), France
Situated on the high on the slopes of Mont Valérien, this 7.5-acre cemetery offers panoramic views of Paris. Originally a WWI cemetery, it now shelters the remains of the dead from both World Wars, including 1,541 Americans who died in World War I and 24 Unknown dead of World War II. Bronze tablets on the walls of the chapel record the names of 974 World War I missing. The chapel walls also include a summary of the loss of life in the United States' armed forces in each war, together with the location of the overseas commemorative cemeteries where American war dead are buried.
Written by Megan Hammons