735th ROB George J Grimm Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery/ Fosses Belgium

Name George J Grimm
From Colorado Service
Number 37331422 Rank Sergeant Service U.S. Army Regiment 735th Railway Operating Battalion War World War II Date Death 01-09-1945 Burial Plot G Row 12 Grave 47, Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery, Henri-Chapelle, Belgium Cemetery Details Henri-Chapelle, Belgium

There Was ... An American Cemetery at Fosses.

Andre Gany, Presentation Gerard ROGGEN, Translation by Marcel GUSTIN


Many amateur historians know about the main American cemeteries and memorials, Neuville-en-Condroz and Henri-Chapelle. However, few people know that there was a predecessor: It was known as the Fosses cemetery, opened in September 1944 and definitively closed on July 1st 1948.


"Number One" American military cemetery in Belgium, the cemetery at Fosses-la-Ville, was settled by the 1st U.S. Army, on September 8, 1944.
Located on the highway to Charleroi, 10 miles (about 16 kilometers) southwest of Namur and 150 miles (about 250 kilometers) from Paris. It was settled along the road traveled by the American troops, from the north of France to Belgium.In that cemetery were buried the remains of 2,199 American soldiers.At the start of the war for the U.S.A., since their arrival in Ireland and Great Britain, from D-Day in Normandy to the "V" Day in May 1945, there were not less than 36 military cemeteries where 124,366 American officers and soldiers were resting. That figure will be subsequently more, following the discovery of isolated G.I.'s remains.

2,199 Americans and 96 men of other allied armies were buried in the military cemetery at Fosses. On the lower level of the cemetery and separated by a large lawn, the remains of 1,600 German soldiers were also buried there by the American graves services.
The most part of the soldiers buried at Fosses were killed during the German counter-offensive in the Ardennes, in December 1944. The burials were performed without a break until May 1945.
On "Memorial Day": May 30, 1945, (anniversary day of the national tribute to the American soldiers, killed in action), the Fosses cemetery was then officially recognized by Colonel OTT. If the counter-offensive in the Ardennes had not existed, this No 1 cemetery in Belgium would have become a definitive memorial. But, we all know, that fate decided otherwise and the United States Army, in front of huge losses in men inflicted, had to look for more important spaces on our soil, the Cemeteries-Memorials of Neuville-en-Condroz and mainly of Henri-Chapelle, among others.

The American cemetery at Fosses, in 1944, is settled in a truly picturesque site on the hill called: "Campagne du Chene", the Fosses American military cemetery was, following the American staff, one of the most beautiful in Europe.


Around a pavilion, guarded by seven U.S. Army soldiers, thousands of small crosses, all identical, are aligned in a perfect symmetry. That forest of small crosses is divided in 12 squares, or better said in American lexicon, in 12 plots. Among those plots, are 11 squares of 200 graves each, and a 12th one with the remains of 96 "allied" soldiers: English, French, Dutch and Belgians; most of them are aviators, fallen after the liberation of our regions. A high mast, with the star spangled banner, is set up half-side of the eastern fence.
Ballast trails are set up; walking to the graves, you discover a superb panorama. To the north is the river bed "La Biesme" and part of the city over hanged by the forest greenery called "Bois de Sainte-Brigide d'Irlande" and the "Dejaifve Hospice" (actually an hospital). To the east, over the skyline, is the Collegial church's antic outline, which characteristic steeple seems to watch over the spacious and field at rest.


From September 1944 on, some families from Fosses have been seeking the authorization to adopt a grave. It can be observed, that some local women have been coming in silent contemplation in front of one grave or another.In decorating those little wooden crosses with flowers, their wish is to replace the mothers from America and the spouses of those heroic American soldiers.It's interesting to keep in mind, the goal to adopt a grave, is for the Belgian families, to be able to replace the parents, the spouses or the children of our brave allied, who do not have the consolation to come, to contemplate and be close to their dear next of kin. Generally, our fellow-citizens take the initiative to contact the American families in order to keep them informed that their dear missing received some flowers from time to time and pious thought.
At that time, our American allies, were deeply touched in learning that many of the "unidentified" graves were adopted. That gesture, particularly thoughtful, shows the kind-hearted nobility of the adopting families.

To honor all those brave U.S. Army soldiers who died for their country and peace, the celebration of the Day of Remembrance, is traditionally held, each year on May 30th. Those ""MEMORIAL DAYS" are celebrated in all the military cemeteries, not only in the United States but worldwide. This tradition goes back to May 5th, 1868, when General John A. LOGAU, General-in-Chief of the Great Army of the Republic, decreed that May 30th would be the "Official Day of Tribute" to honor the comrades killed in action.From 1945 to 1948, during four consecutive years, the "Memorial Day" ceremonies were held at Fosses.

On each occasion, those ceremonies were enhanced by the presence of American military Authorities, Belgian civilian and military Authorities and American and Belgian military detachments. A minute of silence is observed. Three salvos, fire of salute, are shot by the present military detachment, whereas the two flags of friendly nations are raised slowly to the top of the mast. The Bugle call "aux champs" is resounding, and with the benediction of the graves, the chaplains close the ceremonies. In closing, the delegations march with their flags, inclined in front of the VIP stand, and in going past, express their thanks to the religious Authorities headed by their dean-priest.
What striking, is to notice the fact that on May 1947, before the benediction of the graves by the reverend-dean of Fosses, more than eight hundred wreaths and flowers bouquets were laid on. All those were forming an immense multicolor flower bed in front of the stand, from where you could see each grave adorned with a diminutive star spangled banner, often along with an other tricolor.
On July 12th, 1948, the Cemetery was definitively closed.

Sources:This above text, was composed by the "101st AIRBORNE-SCREAMING EAGLE", for the UNAO-FBA/NAMUR magazine, dated July 1993.