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After the war: the regrouping of graves: Colleville

Discussion in 'Colleville-Sur-Mer' started by Jim, Sep 16, 2006.

  1. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    At the end of the Second World War, there were several hundred provisional cemeteries. 24 of which were in France laid out by the American Grave's Registration, an ancillary service of the U.S Army. About ten cemeteries were in Lower Normandy, Vierville, Colleville, Saint-Laurent, two at Saint-Mere-Eglise, Blosville, La Cambe, Orglandes, Mariguy, Saint-James and Le-Chene-Guerin.
    It was in 1947 that fourteen sites worldwide were chosen as permanent cemeteries for American soldiers. The choice of site bore reference to a glorious feat of arms nearby in the Second World War. For each of these an architect was to design a non-confessional chapel, a wall to commemorate the missing, a museum containing battle-maps and a visitor’s hall as well as a war memorial. In the same year, France and the United States governments signed an Agreement regarding the setting up of five permanent cemeteries in French soil. Between 1947 and 1954 the American Graves registration repatriated the bodies of 172,000 soldiers to the USA at the request of their families; 14,000 of these were from Normandy.
    In Lower-Normandy, two historic sites were decided on Colleville-sur-Mer at Omaha, the first of the Allied Landings in Northern Europe and at Saint-James in the Manche where at one time General Patton had his Command-post. a symbol of the Avranches Breakout. In 1956 the government of France granted to the United States rights of the lands in and around the cemeteries and monuments.
    The American Battle Monument Commission was created BY an act of Congress in March 1923. It is responsible for everything concerning monuments and memorials commemorating the American Armed Forces who fell in battle on foreign soil. This is an independent agency of the executive branch of the United Slates Government, although financed by the US Government. The Superintendent in charge of each cemetery is an American citizen.


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    These two cemeteries are well organised to welcome visitors with personnel always available to give information and maintain supervision. They are the only cemeteries in Lower Normandy with definite visiting hours. Colleville in particular has a touristic element as shown by its large parking areas for cars and coaches. It is said to have nearly two million visitors a year. Droves of tourists arrive in coaches attracted by the way in which one nation has honoured its Fallen in the cause of Freedom. A large expanse around the Memorial has been left for ceremonies and parades beneath flags flying on very tall masts. The Commemoration is a striking reminder of one generation sacrificed for another.
     
  2. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Colleville Cemetry

    From 1947 onwards, the bodies of soldiers buried in the provisional cemeteries nearest to Colleville were taken there by the American Arm in March 1948 the graves from three cemeteries near Sainte-Mere-Eglise were removed, amongst which was that of General Theodore Roosevelt. The architects, Harheson, Livigston and Larson, as well as Stevenson a landscape gardener, all from Philadelphia, were given the task of laying out the cemetery the memorial and 173 acres of ground overlooking the Landing Beaches. After four years in construction it was finished in 1956, given the name of the Normandy American Cemetery and inaugurated on 19th .July of the same year.

    This aerial view of the Cemetry gives you an idea of the size of it.

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    Situated on a plateau overlooking Omaha Beach the grave-yard is a vast rectangle parallel to the shore. The land put at the disposal of the United States, stretched right down to the beach for about a kilometre in length and six hundred metres wide. It included also. the way from the 'Route Departmental' up to the Cemetery gates, no one enters Colleville Cemetery by chance, one has to make one's way there. It is a vast majestic park, making the most of its position and the surprise effect. The sea, framed between a double row of' evergreen oaks draws the visitor to the focal point. The eye ranges over the immense green carpet studded with white crosses in faultless lines.
     
  3. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    The entire layout of the site is determined by the majestic central mall on which the monuments are arranged. At the eastern end of the main axis stands the Memorial, a spacious construction - two loggias linked by a semi-circular colonnade which is reflected in a rectangular pool.

    The Rectangular Pool

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    The whole symbolises an opportunity for future generations of remembrance and reunion. In the centre of the Memorial at the axis of the mall a bronze statue seven metres high symbolises the soul of American youth emerging from the waves. Around the plinth can be read: "Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord". The work is that of the sculptor Donald de Lue of New-York. The terrace between the loggias is studded with shingle from Omaha Beach.


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    The Memorial is built of limestone from Vaurion in the Cote d'Or, the plinths and the steps are in granite from Ploumanach in Brittany. Beneath the blue ceramic ceilings in the two loggias arc maps and explanations of the Battles engraved in the stone. On the south side the largest map traces the 6th June landings from England. On each side two others depict the naval plan of the Landings and the air operations that preceded it. Three theatres of conflict: Army, Navy and Air-force, where soldiers, sailors and airmen gave their lives. In the North Loggia a gigantic map shows military operations in Western Europe from 6th June 1944 to 8th May 1945. All the maps have been drawn from the American Battle Monuments Commission documents by Robert Foster.

    Two great bronze urns, the work of Donald de Lue flank the entrance of each loggia. Their decor symbolises on the one: War and Death with women and children stricken with grief and misery at the loss of a dear one. The other calls to mind those who perished at sea, the resurrection and Eternal Life. Behind the Memorial, below the terrace, is the garden of the Missing. It forms a semicircle. The walls are inscribed with the name, rank, unit and State of origin of 1,557 missing servicemen. In central position under the Memorial Colonnade is an extract from the dedication of the Memorial, by General Eisenhower, taken from the “Livre d'Or" kept in Saint Paul's Cathedral in London.
     
  4. Jamie 111

    Jamie 111 New Member

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    Graves

    Another fantastic thread Jim.

    Again the photographs are first class.

    And once again the details are very well presented.

    Brilliant!
     
  5. Cabel1960

    Cabel1960 recruit

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    i learn something new, i didnt know that the brothers were both in here, especially the one from the 1st WW :thumb:
     
  6. -Spitfire-

    -Spitfire- New Member

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    Just read this story. A very good one:thumb:
     
  7. Buford

    Buford New Member

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    When you showed the aerial photograph of the graveyard...it took my breath away. It was simply shocking to see so many graves, and the sheer size of it all. A humbling and poignant reminder of the folly of war.
     
  8. RustySword

    RustySword New Member

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    Wow, those photos put a lot into perspective. Great information.
     
  9. r2b2ct

    r2b2ct New Member

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    Those are definitly some awesome pictures. They show the honorable graves of the fallen soldiers in a both touching and dignified manner. Very nice!
     
  10. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    The Grave Stones are made from white marble from Lasa in Italy indicate the religion of each soldier: a Star of David for members of the Jewish faith and a Latin cross for Christians. On each is the soldier's name, rank and unit as well as the State he came from and the date of his death. From the memorial no inscriptions can be seen since the graves face west. The graves bear no distinctive signs or flowers; each one forms a part of the whole, of a great army. All are in strict alignment to the axis of the Central mall, all face west towards the United States.

    This picture shows both Stones that indicates the Soldiers Religion

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