Here at European Waterways, we understand that, more often than not, the best part of travelling is the history – which is why we offer many barge holidays in France that include excursions to sites with great historical value. One of our favourites is our classic cruise through the Champagne region aboard the Panache. On day five we visit a World War I monument dedicated to soldiers from the United States, the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial in Belleau.
Explore the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial
Learning About World War I on Our Barge Holidays in France
Aisne-Marne, established in 1918, is a cemetery that contains the graves of American soldiers. It’s located at the bottom of the hill where one of the bloodiest fights of World War I took place: the Battle of Belleau Wood. The casualties buried there are mostly those who lost their lives during Belleau Wood and the Battle of Château-Thierry, as well as others who died fighting in the Marne Valley area. Its official dedication ceremony took place on 30 May, 1937 – Memorial Day in the United States.
The necropolis is 42.5 acres long and features headstones that are laid out in a sweeping curve that forms the shape of the capital letter T. A memorial chapel adorned with stained-glass details and sculptures of wartime equipment and personnel was also constructed here. 2,289 bodies of men who died in combat rest in this cemetery (250 are unknown burials) and 1,060 who went missing in action have been commemorated; the names of the latter have been inscribed on the interior wall of the chapel and marked with rosettes.
During World War II, in 1940, heavy fighting took place near Aisne-Marne and the chapel sustained some damages. Since then, it has been completely repaired save for one bullet hole – a reminder of the events that once occurred there.
The Aisne-Marne Cemetery and Memorial is something anyone interested in war and history should visit. In fact, it’s the perfect reason to take a trip to France – let us help you discover this part of the past on one of our river cruises.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a keen interest in history, are all about sampling different cuisines or simply love relaxing as you float down a river – we’ve got the luxury cruise for you. For more information on our barge holidays in France or any of our other destinations throughout Europe, get in touch with our expert team.