Brookwood American Cemetery and Memorial
|Brookwood American Cemetery and Memorial|
|American Battle Monuments Commission|
Memorial chapel and headstones
|Used for those deceased 1918|
|Location||near Brookwood, Surrey|
|Designed by||Egerton Swartwout and H.B. Cresswell|
|Total burials||468 plus 563 commemorated|
|Burials by nation|
|Burials by war|
|Statistics source: ABMC Brookwood web page|
Brookwood American Cemetery and Memorial is the only American Military Cemetery of World War I in the British Isles. Located approximately 28 miles (45 km) southwest of London, Brookwood American Cemetery contains the graves of 468 American war dead, including the graves of 41 unknown servicemen, from World War I.
Maintained by the American Battle Monuments Commission, the cemetery of 4.5 acres (1.82 ha) lies to the west of the civilian Brookwood Cemetery, built by the London Necropolis Company and opened in 1854. The American cemetery is flanked by the much larger Brookwood Military Cemetery, maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, which contains more than 5,000 war dead from the two world wars.
Most of the dead buried in Brookwood died in Great Britain or its surrounding waters. During World War I, servicemen who died in London hospitals were brought to Brookwood. After the Armistice in 1918, the dead from various temporary sites throughout England, Scotland and Ireland were brought to it. These were members of the American Expeditionary Forces who lost their lives in England or the surrounding waters. Among those reburied in Brookwood American Cemetery were victims of the German U-boat UB-77 attack on the SS Tuscania, a British troop transport of the Anchor Line, sunk on 5 February 1918 off the coast of Scotland. In 1929 the chapel memorial opened. Inside are the engraved names 563 missing, most of whom served in the United States Navy and Coast Guard, whose graves are in the sea.
The cemetery was designed by New York architect Edgerton Swartwout (1870–1943) and associate architect H.B. Cresswell. Swartwout designed the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City (1917) and Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza Bailey Fountain (1929). For Brookwood, he laid out the cemetery into four plots for the 468 headstones, grouped around a flagpole. The headstones are of Italian Carrara marble, in the shape of the Latin cross or a Star of David. Shrubs and trees frame the grave plots: evergreen, oak and Scots pine. Existing pine trees were retained to give a pleasing effect around the chapel. For color around the cemetery, rhododendrons, azalea and heather were planted.
The chapel memorial was dedicated in 1929 and designed by Swartwout and Cresswell. It is located in the northwest side of the cemetery. Engraved above the entrance is the tribute “PERPETUAL LIGHT UPON THEM SHINES.” A classic white stone building of Portland limestone, quarried on the Isle of Portland, Dorset, the interior is decorated with religious, military and patriotic symbols. The interior has soft tan-hued stone, with an altar, two oak pews, flags and carved doorways. There are 18 stained glass windows, each bearing the names of American States and Territories of 1918. There are unit insignia worked into the glass and the branches of service for the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
Engraved into the walls of the chapel are the names of 563 missing Americans. Most were lost at sea and their remains were never recovered or could not be positively identified. Included on the walls of the chapel are the names of all hands from the USCGC cutter Tampa, the largest loss of American lives at sea in the war. The cutter was in service for 11 months, until the night of 26 September 1918, when it was attacked in the Bristol Channel. All 115 hands, as well as 16 passengers, were lost. Another naval disaster was the USS Alcedo, a former pleasure yacht that converted to a navy escort, and the first American ship lost in the war. It was struck by a torpedo on 17 December 1917 and lost 21 men. Also included on the wall are the names of the 11 men of the USCGC Seneca who were lost on 16 September 1918, while attempting to assist the steamship Wellington.
There is a lone Medal of Honor recipient honored at Brookwood American Cemetery. Gunner's Mate First Class Osmond Ingram was the first sailor to receive the award in World War I. On 15 October 1917, Ingram was serving on the USS Cassin. He spotted an incoming torpedo and attempted to release the ship’s load of depth charges before the torpedo struck the ship on the aft side. The torpedo struck the ship before he could accomplish his purpose and Ingram was killed by the explosion. Ingram’s body was never recovered; his name is engraved in gold on the wall of the chapel with other crewmen of the Cassin. Other notables are several nurses who perished and are interred in the cemetery.
The office of the cemetery superintendent for the ABMC is next to the Reception Room. The room is a cozy location with a restroom and comfortable chairs. Included in the Reception Room is a guest book and framed portraits of every chairman of the ABMC, beginning with General Pershing. Over the carved wood fireplace is a Purple Heart, presented to the cemetery in 1965. The accompanying certificate is signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
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