Military - The American Presence

American Presence

It is a well known fact that the American Bomber Command were based in East Anglia alongside the other Allied Forces. It was late in 1942 when the first Bomb Groups of the USAAF's Eighth Air Force arrived. They occupied bases in Alconbury, Bassingbourn, Kimbolton, Molesworth intially which were later followed by Glatton. More bases and more aircraft became prevelant and the war was taken to Germany.

The American Forces paid a heavy price as can be seen by the World War II Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial, located at Madingley, which is three miles west of Cambridge on A1303. The site, covering thirty and a half acres in land area, was donated by the University of Cambridge. It lies on a north slope with wide prospect. The west and south sides of the cemetery are framed by woodland. There are 3,812 American military dead buried there. On the wall running from the entrance to the chapel are inscribed the names of 5,126 Americans who gave their lives in the service of their country, but whose remains were never recovered or identified. Most of these died in the Battle of the Atlantic or in the strategic air bombardment of Northwest Europe during World War II.

From the raised dais, where the American flag flies as you enter the cemetery, the extending pathway, with its reflecting pool stretches, eastward. From this pathway the headstones in the burial area form a sweeping curve across the green lawn. Along the south side of the pathway is the Wall of the Missing. At its far end is the chapel containing two huge military maps, stained glass windows bearing the State Seals and military decorations, and its mosaic ceiling with a memorial to the American Air Force's Dead.

In the summer the cemetery is open to visitors daily from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and in the winter from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

To learn more visit the American Battle Monuments Commission website that details the Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial.

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