The Belleau Wood Memorial Cemetery

The Aisne-Marne American Cemetery is located next to the Belleau Wood battlefield in the Marne Valley. In the summer of 1918 the German army, reinforced on the Western front by the surrender of the Russians were prepared to launch a large attack, hoping to win a decisive victory before more American reinforcements arrived.

In early June, 1918, the Germans penetrated the French lines and threatened a breakthrough. In the center of the line was the 4th Marine Brigade consisting of the 5th and 6th Marine regiments, who were part of the United States 2nd Division. In fierce fighting, the Marines were ordered to retreat by the French, a Marine commander famously said "Retreat? Hell, we just got here!" The battle raged on for several days and eventually the Germans were pushed back, ending the threat. In the course of the fighting one Marine battalion lost most of their 325 troops. Overall, United States forces suffered almost 10,000 casualties.

Following the battle, the French renamed the wood "Bois de la Brigade de Marine" ("Wood of the Marine Brigade") to honor the courageous fighting of the Marines. Later the French government awarded the fourth Marine brigade the French Croix de Guerre. To this day members of the 5th and 6th Marine regiments where that decoration.

On a recent Memorial Day a ceremony was held at the AISNE-MARNE AMERICAN CEMETERY in France, commemorating the United States Marines who fought there in 1918, as shown below. The Marine Corps Drum and Bugle Corps from the Marine barracks in Washington is shown on the right. The site, like other memorials to American fighting men in France, including the Normandy D-Day beaches, remains a popular tourist attraction for American visitors to France.

Belleau wood memorial USMC Drum and Bugle Corps

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