Back to
Normandy American Cemetery Welcome Screen

Construction of the Cemetery and Memorial

Normandy American Cemetery 1956

By the end of the war, several hundred temporary cemeteries had been established by the American Graves Registration Service of the United States Army across the battlefields of World War II. Over 30,000 Americans had been buried in the 10 temporary cemeteries in Normandy.

The Normandy American Cemetery, 172.5 acres in extent, is one of fourteen permanent American World War II military cemeteries constructed on foreign soil and managed by the American Battle Monuments Commission. A portion of Normandy American Cemetery lies on the site of the temporary cemetery at Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer, established on D+1, June 7, 1944.

American Cemetery at Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer, Omaha Beach, June 1945.

After the war, the temporary cemeteries were disestablished by the Army. The remains of American military dead whose next-of-kin requested permanent interment overseas were moved to one of the fourteen permanent cemetery sites on foreign soil, usually the one closest to the temporary cemetery.

Sixty percent of those initially interred in the 10 temporary cemeteries in Normandy were returned to the United States. Forty percent were buried at one of the two permanent cemeteries in the Normandy region: Brittany American Cemetery or Normandy American Cemetery. 

The Normandy American Cemetery circa 1954.

There they were interred by the American Graves Registration Service in the distinctive grave patterns proposed by the cemetery’s architect and approved by the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC). Design and construction of all structures and facilities at the permanent sites, as well as sculpture, landscaping and other improvements, were the responsibility of ABMC.