Aisne-Marne Memorial at Belleau Wood

Pictures and text by Kimberly Gibbs

This memorial was commemorated in 1923 to honor the US military personnel who fought in the Battle of Belleau Wood during the first World War. We visited the site and took pictures on June 6, 2009, as this was the date when Marine Gunnery Sergeant Dan Daly uttered the now famous words: "Come on you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?" as he led a charge against the German forces. It was also this day that GySgt Daly led the Marines into the wheat fields for a fierce battle that included hand-to-hand combat. Unfortunately, this day saw the largest casualty numbers sustained by Marine Corps forces up to this point in time.

Straight view as you drive into the Aisne-Marne Memorial Site.
There were two of these buildings, one on the left and one on the right. The one in this picture is the one on the right, the information building.
Close up of some of the many flowers in bloom all along the path leading up to the memorial, as well as in front of the memorial.
This cone tree, which I find very unique, was in front of the memorial. These were also all over the memorial grounds. Notice any edgings along the paths, how immaculately kept the grounds were.
Up alongside the chapel looking down the steps you can see the flagpole, crosses and gardening in front of the chapel.
The many crosses as they swept across the grounds. They were symmetrical on both sides of the chapel.
This is a close up of the cross, no it's not a coincidence that this mans last name is Gibbs. We found one on purpose. However, he is not related to us.
The base of the flagpole directly in front of the memorial.
This is a plaque that was on the ground to the left as you walk out the chapel. This is talking about bells that were dedicated by the American Veterans, the Carillon.
Engraving on the outside of the chapel before you walk in.
When you first walk into the Chapel and look straight ahead this is what you will see. You can see some of the engraving of the names on the wall, although the next pictures are easier to see that.
This was engraved above the door as you walk into the chapel.
As you look to the right this is the French flag, although their names are not in this chapel it is just signifying that they fought with the French.
Looking to the left is the American flag, hung amongst the names of the missing.
Here you can see an angled view, capturing both flags among the engraved names. Also notice the stained glass windows, the one of the left are depicting a soldier "fighting" and the one on the left are the insignias of those who fought here.
Here is the left side of the entrance into Belleau Wood. The right side says Belleau Woods. I chose to show the left one because this is what the French named Belleau Wood after the battles in honor of the Marines. "Woods of the Marine Brigade."
This monument has a Marine fighting and sets in the center of Belleau Wood where you drive in. It is surrounded by captured German artillery.
This is an up-close of the plaque right below the Marine Monument. You can zoom into read it; the left side is in English, the right in French. This shows that the names of the woods were changed June 30, 1918.
Here you can see one of the many trenches still in existence today where artillery hit the woods. Along a handful of these you will find some plaques lying amongst them.
These plaques each talk about one of the battles that took place during the fighting. Along the bottom they depict when they were dedicated and by whom.
This is the wheat field in which one of the bloodiest battles in Marine Corp history up to that point was fought. The Germans were attempting to defend the woods and the Marines mounted their assault from across the field in the woods that you can see in the distance. .
On the brick/stone entrance heading into the German Military Cemetery.
As you head in this is the frontal view of the mass gravesite.
This is an angled view to see the wording better. "Here rest German soldiers…"
This is on the top of the mass gravesite where some 3,847 German soldiers were buried together.
One can definitely see the difference in this picture of the German gravesite compared to the American Memorial and it's sweeping white crosses. Notice how unkept this site is, compared to the American Memorial.
Two different headstones, the one with the star is for the Jewish soldiers.
An up-close of the Jewish headstone.
This final picture you can see the last row of German gravesites as you look past them you can see the Aisne-Marne Memorial in the background.

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