WWII U.S. MILITARY CEMETERIES & BURIALS

 
 

 

 

 

 

MILITARY CEMETERIES

It was the duty of the commanding generals of each army, corps, division or other command, to supervise the selection and location of the temporary cemeteries in the areas and sections within which his command was operating. This responsibility would include the proper interment of the dead, the determination of identities, when possible, and the preparation and maintenance of the required burial forms and records.

Cemeteries and graves would be screened from hostile ground observation and as nearly as possible be located beyond the range of hostile artillery. Local cemeteries may would have been utilized when suitably located, and if no American military cemetery had been acquired. If circumstances permit, authorization of local officials would be secured. Cemeteries would be located in open fields where the soil was well drained and easy to dig and with or near good lateral roads leading from the flanks of the command which it was designated to serve. In any event, the ground would be suitable for the purpose. It would not be under laid with rock, requiring blasting, nor would it be swampy, which causes the graves to fill with water. Cemetery sites near the banks of a stream would have been avoided not only because of the possibility of pollution but also because overflow would may cause grave markers to be washed away, and so removing valuable identification markers.

Cemetery sites would have been in such a position and of such shape as to interfere as little as possible with the use of adjoining land; for example, the corner and not the center of a flied would have been selected. The site would be selected with a view to economy, bearing in mind that the owners of the land must be compensate by the nation within whose borders the permanent cemetery was established. For example, as little frontage along the road as possible should be taken. Where there is any choice of land, the poorer quality should be cleared rather than the more fertile. In order that such parcels would not be carelessly divided, attention would be paid to parcel boundaries, which may usually be distinguished by difference of cultivation.

Other factors being favorable, cemeteries would be located in places convenient to the sectors where the heaviest fighting and casualties are would have been expected.

A description of the ground recommended or selected for use as a cemetery would be prepared and include such surface conditions as slopes, trees, prominent terrain irregularities and vegetation, available roads and other means of access. All map coordinates would be indicated to establish absolute means of location. The standard maps of the area available and in use at the headquarters of the particular theater of operations, would be referred to and cited in the description

In laying out temporary cemeteries the standard plan furnished by The Quartermaster General would be strictly followed, both as to plotting and numbering of graves, except when deviation is actually required by terrain conditions, in which case immediate report of the modifications and reasons therefore would have been forwarded through military channels to the chief, Graves Registration Service of the operations or defense command concerned ( see cemetery plan ).

As soon as a cemetery was closed, a final inspection report and survey would have been made by the local Graves Registration Service unit and forwarded to the chief of the Graves Registration Service of the theater of operations concerned. The final inspection report and survey would not be based on data or blueprints received from the office of the chief of the Graves Registration Service, but would reflect the actual position of each grave, at the time, and the name of the occupants as shown on the crosses or other markers. Sufficient space would be retained in the cemetery to provide the grave sites for bodies subsequently recovered in the vicinity.

The Graves Registration Service unit commander would keep an accurate map of grave locations at all times. Topographic draftsmen and their assistants are included within the unit for that purpose.  The commander would be active, conscientious and constantly alert to eliminate uncertainty as to such locations. Copies of all cemetery maps or sketches of all isolated burials would be furnished The Quartermaster General as soon as practicable, with complete information noted thereon.

NOTES

(1) Graves to be a minimum of 5 feet in depth.
(2) All interments to be made with head in same direction.
(3) Markers to be placed at head of graves.
(4) Graves to be numbered consecutively, starting with No 1 at left ( standing at foot of grave and facing head ) and following row to end, then continuing with first grave at left of  second row.
(5) Where terrain or other reasons necessitate excavation of trench for burial purpose, the remains will be interred therein in same manner and distance apart according to the above plan (see sketch "A" )  In such cases, extreme care must be taken to insure marker being placed at the grave to which it pertains.
(6) In light or sandy soil where excavation will not stand, it is sometimes necessary to dig trenches to a depth of 4 feet and then make single excavations 1 foot deeper ( see sketch "B" ).
(7) Care should be taken that graves are in line with one another both laterally and longitudinally.
(8) The meridian (directional arrow ) indicating north should be shown on all plans and sketches.
(9) Separate layout plans should be prepared for each cemetery and/or burial plot.
 

 

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