Henri-Chapelle Temporary American Military Cemetery
The Henri-Chapelle Temporary American Military Cemetery looked nothing like it does today. The temporary cemetery was a farm field that had been selected by the graves registration unit in September 1944.
The Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery and Memorial, located on the N-18, consists of 23 acres of area. The area where the cemetery is located was liberated by the US 1st Infantry Division on September 12, 1944. A temporary cemetery was created on September 28, 1944, two to three hundred meters north of the current cemetery. Ultimately, 17,600 American soldiers would be ordered down. Immediately to the right, 10,600 killed Germans were also buried alongside 191 British, Canadian and Polish dead.
After the war ended, there was a repatriation program. An offer was extended to the immediate next of kin to exhume their loved one and return the remains to the United States for burial.
he next of kin could also choose to have their loved one interred at Henri-Chapelle Military Cemetery once it was converted from a temporary military cemetery to a permanent one.
On July 27th, 1947 the repatriation program began. This involved disinterring all the German soldiers buried at the Henri-Chapelle Temporary Cemetery #2 and moving those remains to a new location at Lommel, Belgium.
Then all American soldiers had to be disinterred. They were placed in caskets which lay above the ground. The first group of soldiers scheduled to be repatriated to the United States were placed on a barge and taken up the Maas River to Antwerp, Belgium. At Antwerp, the ship "Joseph V. Connolly" was loaded with the remains of 5,600 fallen American soldiers.
Over 30,000 Belgian people turned out in October 1947 to honor those who had given their life to free Europe from Nazi oppression. The ship arrived in Brooklyn, New York on October 26th, 1947; while a large crowd viewed the solemn occasion.
The caskets were unloaded and sent by train to each soldier's hometown.
Once all soldiers were reburied in the new location, there was a beautification program which gave the cemetery a nice appearance compared to the temporary cemetery during World War II. The graves were still marked with painted wooden crosses and there were no monuments.
On May 14, 1949 Executive Order #10057 transferred control of the military cemeteries to the American Battle Monuments Commission. The Henri-Chapelle American Military Cemetery and Memorial was completed and the dedication ceremony was held on July 9, 1960.
This is the beautiful location that you see today.
The fallen soldiers were treated with proper respect and I am forever grateful to the men of the 607th Graves Registration Company and their successors that served at Henri-Chapelle. They had the horrible assignment of retrieving, cataloguing, and burying our fallen loved ones. Thanks to the men who served in the Graves Registration Units during World War II.
Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery
At the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery and Memorial in Belgium, covering 57 acres, rest 7,992 of our military dead, most of whom lost their lives during the advance of the U.S. armed forces into Germany. Their headstones are arranged in gentle arcs sweeping across a broad green lawn that slopes gently downhill. A highway passes through the cemetery. West of the highway is an overlook that affords an excellent view of the rolling Belgian countryside, once a battlefield.
To the east is the long colonnade that, with the chapel and map room, forms the memorial overlooking the burial area. The chapel is simple, but richly ornamented. In the map room are two maps of military operations, carved in black granite, with inscriptions recalling the achievements of our forces. On the rectangular piers of the colonnade are inscribed the names of 450 missing. Rosettes mark the names of those since recovered and identified. The seals of the states and territories are also carved on these piers.
The cemetery possesses great military historic significance as it holds fallen Americans of two major efforts, one covering the U.S. First Army's drive in September 1944 through northern France, Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg into Germany, and the second covering the Battle of the Bulge.
Known by God:94
Missing in Action:450
Brothers: 33 gravens from to bothers, 3 Graves from three Brothers (,Glenn, Robert en James Tester, located: B-14-18/19/20)
Several Medal of Honor recipients are buried in the cemetery:
- Brigadier General Frederick W. Castle (1908–1944), for action as an Army Air Forces B-17 pilot, the highest in rank buried at Henri-Chapelle; namesake of Castle Air Force Base
Frederick Castle joined the New Jersey National Guard in 1924, entering the U.S. Military Academy at West Point two years later and graduating with the Class of 1930. He was the son of Colonel Benjamin Frederick Castle who had graduated from the Academy in 1907, and retired in 1919 as a Colonel. He left the Army in 1934 to work for Allied Chemical and Dye Corporation, remaining a member of the Army Reserve. He was recalled to active duty as a captain in 1942 and assigned to organizing bases and supply depots for the new Eighth Air Force in England. He was promoted to Brigadier General on 20 November 1944.
Brig Gen Castle commanded the 94th Bomber Group before he was appointed commander of the 3rd Air Division.
The citation of his Silver Star Medal stated:
"The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Colonel (Air Corps) Frederick Walker Castle (ASN: 0-319375), United States Army Air Forces, for gallantry in action while serving as Combat Leader with the EIGHTH Air Force on a bombing mission over Germany, 28 July 1943. Colonel Castle directed a Heavy Bombardment Wing from his position in the leading airplane of the formation. Under his inspiring leadership, a highly important and heavily defended military objective was successfully bombed. The courage, skill and brilliant leadership displayed by Colonel Castle on this occasion reflect the highest credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of the United States."
The citation of his Legion of Merit stated:
"The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Legion of Merit to Brigadier General Frederick Walker Castle (ASN: 0-319375), United States Army Air Forces, for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services to the Government of the United States while serving with the EIGHTH Air Force during World War II. The singularly distinctive accomplishments of General Castle and his dedicated contributions in the service of his country reflect the highest credit upon himself and the United States Army Air Forces."
The citation of his first Distinguished Flying Cross stated:
"The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 2, 1926, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Flying Cross to Colonel (Air Corps) Frederick Walker Castle (ASN: 0-319375), United States Army Air Forces, for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight while serving as Commanding Officer of a B-17 Group of the EIGHTH Air Force on a bombardment mission over Germany, 17 August 1943. In spite of intense anti-aircraft fire and extremely heavy fighter opposition, the formation made the deepest penetration thus far into Germany, bombed a target of vital importance with highly successful results and continued on to bases in another theater. During one of the greatest aerial battles of the war, lasting over two hours, approximately one hundred and fifty enemy aircraft were destroyed. The courage, skill and determination displayed by Colonel Castle on this occasion reflect the highest credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of the United States."
The citation of his second Distinguished Flying Cross stated:
"The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 2, 1926, takes pleasure in presenting a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster in lieu of a Second Award of the Distinguished Flying Cross to Colonel (Air Corps) Frederick Walker Castle (ASN: 0-319375), United States Army Air Forces, for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight while leading a Heavy Bombardment Division of Flying Fortresses on a mission over Germany, 16 December 1943. Colonel Castle directed the attack from his position in the leading aircraft. In spite of repeated assaults by hostile fighters and extremely adverse weather conditions, he maintained a tightly-knit formation and reached the assigned target on schedule. Though subjected to heavy, accurate anti-aircraft fire, Colonel Castle led his units directly over the objective and wrought great destruction on important enemy installations. The high degree of success attained is attributable to the courage and superb leadership of Colonel Castle. His actions on this occasion reflect highest credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of the United States."
The citation of his third Distinguished Flying Cross stated:
"The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 2, 1926, takes pleasure in presenting a Second Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster in lieu of a Third Award of the Distinguished Flying Cross to Colonel (Air Corps) Frederick Walker Castle (ASN: 0-319375), United States Army Air Forces, for extraordinary achievement, while leading a Combat Wing of B-17 airplanes on a bombardment mission over Germany, 25 February 1944. In spite of adverse weather conditions over England, he skillfully assembled his units in their proper positions in the formation exactly on schedule. Flying as Command Pilot in the leading aircraft, Colonel Castle maneuvered the Wing through determined enemy opposition to reach the assigned target. Though subjected to intense and accurate anti-aircraft fire, which damaged his plane, he directed a bombing run that wrought vast devastation on an important enemy installation. The courage, sound judgment and skillful leadership displayed by Colonel Castle were largely responsible for the high degree of success attained by the Wing. His actions on this occasion reflect highest credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of the United States."
The citation of his fourth Distinguished Flying Cross stated:
"The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 2, 1926, takes pleasure in presenting a Third Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster in lieu of a Fourth Award of the Distinguished Flying Cross to Colonel (Air Corps) Frederick Walker Castle (ASN: 0-319375), United States Army Air Forces, for extraordinary achievement, while serving as Pilot of a B-17 airplane of the EIGHTH Air Force on twenty-five bombardment missions over enemy occupied Continental Europe. Displaying great courage and skill, Colonel Castle has materially aided in the success of each of the twenty-five missions and his actions are an inspiring example for his fellow flyers. The courage, coolness and skill displayed by Colonel Castle on all these occasions reflect the highest credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of the United States."
The citation of his Medal of Honor stated:
"The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor (Posthumously) to Brigadier General (Air Corps) Frederick Walker Castle (ASN: 0-319375), United States Army Air Forces, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the 487th Bombardment Group (H), 4th Bombardment Wing, Eighth Air Force. Brigadier General Castle was air commander and leader of more than 2,000 heavy bombers in a strike against German airfields on 24 December 1944. En route to the target, the failure of one engine forced him to relinquish his place at the head of the formation. In order not to endanger friendly troops on the ground below, he refused to jettison his bombs to gain speed maneuverability. His lagging, unescorted aircraft became the target of numerous enemy fighters which ripped the left wing with cannon shells, set the oxygen system afire, and wounded two members of the crew. Repeated attacks started fires in two engines, leaving the Flying Fortress in imminent danger of exploding. Realizing the hopelessness of the situation, the bail-out order was given. Without regard for his personal safety he gallantly remained alone at the controls to afford all other crewmembers an opportunity to escape. Still another attack exploded gasoline tanks in the right wing, and the bomber plunged earthward, carrying General Castle to his death. His intrepidity and willing sacrifice of his life to save members of the crew were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service."
The mission fell fifteen minutes behind schedule because of problems assembling the massive force, and the 487th missed its rendezvous with escorting P-51 fighters because the fighters were late in arriving due to the weather. The lead bomber also experienced an intermittent problem with one of its four engines and was attacked by German ME-109 fighters while still over Allied-held territory in Belgium.
The plane fell away from the formation almost immediately and Brig Gen Castle instructed the deputy commander by radio to take over the lead. The B-17 struggled with control and moved some distance away from the protection of the bomber force, where it was again attacked. The pilots attempted to return to the bomber column but a third attack set both engines on the right wing on fire. Castle ordered the bomber abandoned but it spun into a dive. The pilots recovered from the dive and seven of the nine crewmen parachuted. The pilot was observed in the nose of the airplane hooking on his parachute, with Castle still at the controls, when the fuel tank in the burning right wing exploded, putting the B-17 into a spin from which it did not recover.
Of the ten crew members, six survived the crash
T/4 Truman C. Kimbro (1919–1944), for action against enemy forces in Belgium
T/4 Truman Kimbro enlisted at Fort Sam, Houston, Texas on 2 December 1941.
On 19 December 1944, as a scout, he led a squad assigned to the mission of mining a vital crossroads near Rocherath, Belgium. At the
first attempt to reach the objective, he discovered it was occupied by an enemy tank and at least 20 infantrymen. Driven back by withering
fire, Technician 4th Grade Kimbro made 2 more attempts to lead his squad to the crossroads but all approaches were covered by intense
enemy fire. Although warned by our own infantrymen of the great danger involved, he left his squad in a protected place and, laden with
mines, crawled alone toward the crossroads. When nearing his objective he was severely wounded, but he continued to drag himself forward
and laid his mines across the road. As he tried to crawl from the objective his body was riddled with rifle and machinegun fire. The mines laid
by his act of indomitable courage delayed the advance of enemy armor and prevented the rear of our withdrawing columns from being
attacked by the enemy.
PFC Francis X. McGraw (1918–1944), for action against enemy forces in Germany
Francis Mc Graw graduated from Camden Catholic High School in Cherry Hill, New Jersey with the class of 1937. He worked as a packer at the Campbell Soup Company while living at home.
He enlisted on 25 February 1942 and joined his unit as an early replacement on 26 December 1942 while the 1st Infantry Division was in North Africa.
Pfc. McGraw participated in fighting at Ousseltia Valley, Kairouan Pass, Gafsa, El Geuttar, Beja, and Mateur. Next he was part of the invasion of Sicily. He landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day, fought in the Normandy hedgerows and advanced across France to the Hürtgen Forest.
Pfc. McGraw's unit was part of a attack that began on 16 November 1944. The Americans took heavy casualties over the next three days, including McGraw's company commander. The Germans decided to counterattack on 19 November. Pfc McGraw played a major roll in stopping the enemy attack. He was posthumously award the Medal of Honor.
The citiation for his Medal of Honor stated: 'The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor (Posthumously) to Private First Class Francis Xavier McGraw, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action above and beyond the call of duty while serving with Company H, 26th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division. Private First Class McGraw manned a heavy machinegun emplaced in a foxhole near Schevenhutte, Germany, on 19 November 1944, when the enemy launched a fierce counterattack. Braving an intense hour-long preparatory barrage, he maintained his stand and poured deadly accurate fire into the advancing foot troops until they faltered and came to a halt. The hostile forces brought up a machinegun in an effort to dislodge him but were frustrated when he lifted his gun to an exposed but advantageous position atop a log, courageously stood up in his foxhole and knocked out the enemy weapon. A rocket blasted his gun from position, but he retrieved it and continued firing. He silenced a second machinegun and then made repeated trips over fire-swept terrain to replenish his ammunition supply. Wounded painfully in this dangerous task, he disregarded his injury and hurried back to his post, where his weapon was showered with mud when another rocket barely missed him. In the midst of the battle, with enemy troops taking advantage of his predicament to press forward, he calmly cleaned his gun, put it back into action and drove off the attackers. He continued to fire until his ammunition was expended, when, with a fierce desire to close with the enemy, he picked up a carbine, killed one enemy soldier, wounded another and engaged in a desperate firefight with a third until he was mortally wounded by a burst from a machine pistol. The extraordinary heroism and intrepidity displayed by Private McGraw inspired his comrades to great efforts and was a major factor in repulsing the enemy attack'
- James G. Snitzer (1926–1945), film actor
- Lt. William Nellis (1916–1944), USAAF P-47 pilot and namesake of Nellis Air Force Base