NORMANDY AMERICAN CEMETERY
COLLEVILLE SUR MER
"The Sprit of American Youth Rising from the Waves"
At the conclusion of the fighting in Normandy, there were more than ten American cemeteries on the battlefield, with hundreds of small burial grounds and isolated graves. The American Battle Monuments Commission (AMBC) repatriated at least 60% of these burials back to the United States, and concentrated the remaining casualties into two main cemeteries; one here in Normandy and another in Britanny.
To a size of 172.5 acres, the Normandy American Cemetery has 9,387 burials of US service men and women. Of this number, some 307 are unknowns, three are Medal of Honour winners (see below) and four are women. In addition there are 33 pairs of brothers buried side by side. It is the largest American Cemetery from WW2, but not the largest in Europe: that is the Meuse-Argonne Cemetery from WW1 with more than 14,000 burials.
The main body of the cemetery is rectangular with the main paths laid out in the pattern of a Latin cross. On entering the cemetery, visit first the Visitors Building where veterans can sign the Veteran's Book, and all others the main Visitors Book. Here you can also trace US servicemen and women who are in the care of AMBC either in cemeteries or on memorials. You can also pick up a free leaflet about the cemetery.
The graves at Normandy American Cemetery
Then proceed to the Memorial, the main feature of which is a 22 foot bronze statue "The Sprit of American Youth Rising From The Waves". Either side of this are huge wall maps showing the campaign in the European Theatre of Operations (ETO).
Behind the statue is the Garden of the Missing which commemorates a further 1,557 soldiers, sailors and airmen who fell in Normandy and have no known grave. Those who remains have been found since the war are indicated with an asterisk. The servicemen commemorated here represent all but one of the 50 States.
From here enter the main body of the cemetery and follow the path to The Chapel. This is built from limestone and the main inscription inside reads "I Give Unto Them Etneral Life and They Shall Never Perish".
The Memorial, Normandy American Cemetery
The cemetery borders on the left flank of Omaha Beach, and overlooks the sector where the 1st Division landed on D Day. There is a Viewing Platform with a useful map, and paths which take you down the slopes and onto the beach - although it is a long walk.
On most days the cemetery is open until 17.00. For further information contact:
Normandy American Cemetery
14710 Colleville sur Mer
Tel: 02 31 51 62 00. Fax: 02 31 51 62 09
The cemetery is well signposted from many locations, including Bayeux. From Bayeux take the RN13 in the direction of Cherbourg. Take the exit signposted 'Omaha Beach' and follow the road junction in Vierville-sur-Mer. Here turn left on the RN814 and follow through St Laurent sur Mer to a roundabout just before Colleville sur Mer. Here turn left and follow the signs to the parking at the cemetery.
Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt Jr (Block D : Row 28 : Graves 45 & 46)
- 4th Division.
- Died 12th July 1944
- Nephew of the President and buried beside his brother Quentin, killed as a pilot in WW1.
- Recipient of the Medal of Honour.
Two brothers who inspired 'Saving Private Ryan' (Block F : Row 15 : Graves 11 & 12)
- 2/Lt Preston Niland 22nd Infantry and Sgt Robert Niland 505th PIR.
- Robert was killed on D Day and Preston on 7th June. A third brother was thought killed in the Pacific, so the fourth was allowed home. However, the brother in the Pacific actaully survived the war.
- It was their story which inspired the script writers for 'Saving Private Ryan'
Father and Son (Block E : Row 20 : Graves 19 & 20)
- Colonel Ollie Reed, 115th Infantry, 30th July 1944.
- 1st Lieutenant Ollie Reed Jr., 163rd Infantry, 6th July 1944.
Medal of Honour winner: T/Sgt Frank Peregory (Block G : Row 21 : Grave 7)
- 116th Infantry, 29th Division.
- Killed 14th June 1944.
- Awarded for Grandcamp Maisy 8th June 1944.
Medal of Honour winner: 1st Lieutenant Jimmie W. Monteith Jr (Block I : Row 20 : Grave 12)
- 16th Infantry, 1st Division.
- Killed 6th June 1944.
- Awarded for Omaha Beach, D Day.
ŠPaul Reed 2002-2006