With headstones lying in a sweeping curve, the 42.5-acre Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial in France, sits at the foot of Belleau Wood. The cemetery contains the graves of 2,289 war dead, most of whom fought in the vicinity and in the Marne Valley in the summer of 1918. The memorial chapel sits on a hillside, decorated with sculptured and stained-glass details of wartime personnel, equipment and insignia. Inscribed on its interior wall are 1,060 names of the missing. Rosettes mark the names of those since recovered and identified. In 1940 during World War II the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery chapel was damaged due to heavy fighting in the vicinity. All damage was repaired except for one shell hole in the chapel, left as a reminder of what took place.
Belleau Wood adjoins the cemetery and contains many vestiges of World War I. A monument at the flagpole commemorates the valor of the U.S. Marines who captured much of this ground in 1918.
Aisne-Marne American Cemetery
When the United States entered World War I in April 1917, the Allies and Germans all doubted the fighting capability of the Americans. German offensives on the Western Front in spring 1918 sought to win the war before American units became operational.
May 27, 1918: German forces broke through French lines at the “Chemin des Dames.” Within three days they reached Belleau Wood and the Marne River in Château-Thierry. Without reserves, France called on the American Expeditionary Forces.
May 30: U.S. 3rd Division arrived in Château-Thierry, blocking German forces on the north bank of the Marne throughout June.
Early June: U.S. 2nd Division, including its 4th Marine Brigade, replaced French units in the Belleau area.
June 6: Marines led the 2nd Division into Belleau Wood to clear out German units. The battle lasted 20 days and became an enduring symbol for the Marine Corps. American forces proved themselves, stirring Allied hopes to win the war.
July 15: German forces tried again to pierce Allied lines by crossing the Marne River east of Château-Thierry. The 3rd Division blocked them, and was nicknamed “Rock of the Marne” by the French Army.
July 18: The Allies began the Aisne-Marne Offensive. By August 6, the German salient was eliminated and Allied forces reached the banks of the Vesle River. Ten American Divisions (310,000 men) participated in this offensive.
General John J. Pershing led the American Expeditionary Forces to successes in the St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne campaigns and to the Armistice on November 11, 1918.
Aisne-Marne American Cemetery lies south of the village of Belleau, France, six and a half miles northwest of Château-Thierry.
Travel via Car:
From Paris travel via toll autoroute A-4. Take the Montreuil-aux-Lions exit (#19), then travel via N-3 (also called D1003), following the cemetery signs to “Lucy-le-Bocage” and proceed via D82 through Belleau Wood to the cemetery entrance.
From Reims travel via toll autoroute A-4. The cemetery may be reached by taking the Château-Thierry exit (#20). Proceed to the center of Château-Thierry and then follow the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery signs in the direction of Meaux/ La Ferté sous Jouarre via D1003. About one mile after Château-Thierry, there will be signs for Belleau via D9 on your right, at the top of the hill. At this point you will be 10 minutes from the cemetery. Stay on the main road until you enter Belleau.
Travel via Train:
There is rail service from Paris (Gare de l'Est) to the train station in Château-Thierry. The journey takes about one hour. From Château-Thierry to Belleau, the trip is a 15-minute ride via taxi. (No bus transportation is available)
Travel via Airplane:
Paris is about 60 miles from the cemetery.
Travel via Public Transportation:
Public transportation to the cemetery is not available.
News & Events
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