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COLLEVILLE AMERICAN CEMETERY - OMAHA beach

Monday 10 February 2003

The Normandy American cemetry site was chosen because of it’s location on the cliff overlooking Omahah beach. The site coners 172 acres and is granted in perpetuity to the American nation.
There are 9386 graves in 10 plots and in perfect alignment in all directions. There were 23 000 buried in the area before the cemetry was built in 1956. 14 000 were returned home at the request of their families. There are 33 instances of brothers buried side by side, and also a father and son. Their is no hierarchy in the layout. A general lies next to a private. The stones are of white italian marble, with a star of David for those of Jewish faith and a latin cross for the others.
307 of the graves are of unknows. This is in sharp contrast to the german cemetry at Cambes. Out of 21 000 graves there were 13000 unknowns. This is an indication of the level of bombardement that the germans suffered.
At the eastern end of the cemetry is a mémorial of a semi circuler collonade with a loggia at each end. In the centre of the collonade is a 22 ft bronze statue. "The spirite of American mouth" rising from the waves.

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SPIRIT OF AMERICAN YOUTH RISING FROM THE WAVES

On the walls of the loggia are maps depicting the all the stages of the opération Overlord, from the pre-invasion bombing raids to the advance on Berlin.
Behind the memorial is the garden of missing. On the halls are the names of 1557 of the missing.
AT the far side of the cemetry, overlooking the beach , is an orientation table, showing the plan of the invasion fleet
Amongst the graves of special note are the graves of Gen Theodore Roosevelt Jr and his brother Quentin.
Gen Roosevelt led the attack on Utah beach. he died in his office on the 12th of june, just before St Lo was liberated. His brother was shot down in the first world war. he id the only pzerson to be buried in he cemetery that wasn’t killed in the second world war.

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GEN ROOSEVELT AND HIS BROTHER

The film Saving Private Ryan was based on a real family. Four brothers Edward, Preston, Robert and Francis were serving in the forces. Edward was shot down inthe Pacific campain. Preston and robert were killed in the first days of the normandy landings. The forth brother Francis was , in theory, taken out of the action. Not in the way of the film, but by sending the Chaplain to tell him. His daughter maintains that he stayed in combat. She has a photo of him taking leave three weeks after. Edward who had been shot down wasn’t in fact killed. he was taken prisoner, but he never recovered psychologically from his captivity.

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THE NILAND BROTHERS

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