Then and Now: American Cemetery & Camp Romagne, Part 2

Following publication of American Cemetery & Camp Romagne, Facebook Group member Therry Schwartz provided these additional photos and details regarding the construction of the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery.  Thanks very much Therry!



Here is the evolution of the cemetery at Romagne. It might be somewhat simplistic but only a full length book would do it the justice it deserves.  The first photo is a typical battlefield cemetery.  The men are buried where they fell.  In this Signal Corps photo members of the GRS are getting ready to disinter the bodies for transport towards a consolidation cemetery like Romagne.

Romagne 2



This next photo shows men of color from Pioneer units getting the ground ready for the influx of bodies to the consolidation cemetery at Romagne.  Please note that there are no individual graves at this time just long trenches which will get the wooden crosses to identify the dead.

Romagne 3



The cemetery at Romagne is shaping up with the start of landscaping.

Romagne 4



French RPPC showing the extent of the graves which number over 25,000.  This is taken in late 1919 early 1920 as preparations for permanency are set into motion and beautification with buildings are started.

Romagne 5



As seen in this photo permanent structure and well-kept grounds offer visitors a place to reflect.  Artillery pieces are added.  Soon after memorial ceremonies are organised, yet in the US families are requesting the return of their loved ones.

Romagne 6



The American Battle Monuments Commission takes over as plans for repatriation are set forth.  A great number of families want the return of their sons, fathers, brothers and husbands…  The bodies are disinterred once again and those returning to the States are sent to the coast by train and the ones who will remain are re-buried in single graves in 8 plots.  Early French RPPC showing the plots without the Memorial Chapel.  (Webmaster’s note:  The Cemetery has 14,246 graves today versus over 25,000 when it was originally constructed.)

Romagne 7



(The webmaster asked whether the cemetery’s location was significantly altered due to the repatriation of about 11,000 bodies to the U.S.)  I think it has to do with the spacing of the graves.  because they were not individual graves but more mass burials in a trench the GRS could put more in the same amount of space.  Maybe this angle shows it better.

Romagne 1



With the addition of the Memorial Chapel it is now the cemetery we know…   Again I realise this is very simple as there are many subplots to the cemetery evolution such as use of POWs for manual labor or the identification process for repatriation and so on, but like I said a full book is the only way to do that.

Romagne 8



Webmaster comment:  Details of the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and all the other cemeteries and memorials maintained by the American Battle Monuments Commission can be viewed on the ABMC’s website:  The ABMC has really beefed up the WW1 content on its website in preparation for the upcoming centennial of the war.


(The webmaster is always looking for quality content for a blog or a full article.  Also, blog readers are encouraged to join the Facebook Group.  News and events get posted there much quicker.)