AMERICAN BATTLE MONUMENTS COMMISSION

 

BRITTANY AMERICAN CEMETERY AND MEMORIAL

 

 

The World War II Brittany American Cemetery and Memorial lies one and a half miles southeast of the village of St. James (Marche), France, twelve miles south of Avranches and fourteen miles north of Fougeres.  It may be reached by automobile from Paris via toll Highway A-11 to Laval, then D-31 to Ernee, N-12 to Fougeres and finally D-798 to St. James, a total distance of 220 miles from Paris.  The cemetery is reached by rail, bus and taxi.  From Paris take the high speed train (TGV) at the Montparnasse Station to Laval.  Change to the SNCF bus to Fougeres and from there to St. James by taxi.  Travel time including layover is about five hours.  There are hotels at St. James, Avranches, Pontorson (10 miles) and Mont St. Michel (15 miles).

 

At this cemetery, covering twenty-eight acres of rolling farm country near the eastern edge of Brittany, rest 4,410 American Dead, most of whom gave their lives in the Normandy and Brittany campaigns in 1944.  Along the retaining wall of the memorial terrace are inscribed the names of 498 Americans who gave their lives in the service of their country but rest in unknown graves.   Brittany American Cemetery is located on the site of the temporary American St. James Cemetery, established on August 4, 1944 by the U.S. Third Army.   It marks the point where the American forces made their famous breakthrough from the hedgerow country of Normandy into the plains of Brittany during their offensive around Avranches.

 

The gray granite memorial contains the chapel as well as two large operations maps and flags of our military services and overlooks the burial area.  Interesting stained glass and sculpture aid in embellishing the structure.  The lookout platform of the chapel tower, reached by 98 steps, affords a view of the stately pattern of the headstones as well as the peaceful surrounding countryside stretching northward to the sea and Mont St. Michel.

 

The cemetery is open daily to the public from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm except December 25 and January 1.  It is open on host country holidays.  When the cemetery is open to the public, a staff member is on duty in the Visitors’ Building to answer questions and escort relatives to grave and memorial sites.

 

 

 

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