Saint Laurent-sur-Mer American Temporary Military Cemetery

Operations at Saint Laurent began at on 10 June, when 775 Allied and 200 enemy dead were recieved. Although 325 burials had been made by 11 June, internment was not completed until 15 June. The graves registration company assigned to the Provisional Engineer Special Brigade Group was then put under First United States Army control, and Saint Laurent became a First Army Cemetery. By 26 June, 1,510 American, 48 Allied, and 606 enemy soldiers had been buried there. The cemetery continued to recieve bodies until the United States forces were halted at Saint-Lo in mid-July. By that time, 3,797 American soldiers had been buried in this spot that overlooked the beach where many of them had fallen. Most of the men buried here were members of the V Corps, which had made the assault landings. Others were members of the rangers, the Special Army-Navy Engineer Task Force, and the Provisional Engineer Special Brigade Group, who gallantly gave their lives to make the invasion a success. “By their unflinching courage,” General Eisenhower wrote, “they turned what might have been a catastrophe into a glorious victory.

GPS location Saint Laurent-sur-Mer American Temporary Military Cemetery.

Saint Laurent was closed to burials during the Saint-Lo break-through and on 7 August was placed under control of the Advance Section, Communications Zone. The First Army’s graves registration company continued to maintain and beautify the cemetery until 21 September 1944, when a quartermaster composite company assumed control.

 The commanding officer of the quartermaster group in charge of all cemeteries in Normandy believed that Saint Laurent should be developed as a permanent cemetery, that the final plan should be drafted to include the dugouts and the gun emplacements as they were at the time of the invasion, and that the entire area should be turned into a memorial park rather than just a cemetery.

Dedication of ‘Cemetery No.1’ – 12 June 1944

By mid-January 1945 beautification had been accomplished. All plots had been leveled and raked. Crosses or Stars of David had been erected on all graves. A roadway had been constructed from the entrance to the flagpole. The circular walk around the flagpole had been filled with stone from the beach shingle. All Allied dead had been removed, and the enemy plot had been separated from the American section. The temporary office building had been completed. Plans for a main access road were in the hands of the engineers.

The Chief of the Graves Registration Division agreed that the site was suitable for a permanent cemetery and that the whole area could be turned into a memorial park. The plan also appealed to the officers of the American Graves Registration Command, when that organization was created in October 1945. The Office of The Quartermaster General announced in June 1947 that Saint Laurent had been selected as a permanent cemetery.

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