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Overheard in GenForum: Looking for Cemetery in Baccarat France
by Rhonda R. McClure

Each week Rhonda answers a question from the GenForum message boards and gives her expert answer here. We'd love to hear anything you have to add. Go ahead and leave your comments on GenForum with the original message.

August 10, 2000
See Rhonda's Previous Columns

Q: I am looking for a web site for W.W. I Cemeteries in Baccarat France. My relative was killed July 25, 1918 and was buried in Baccarat. He was an Infantry Captain assigned to Company G, 308th Infantry, 77th Division. At that time period he was a driver for the Norton Harjes Ambulance Corps with the French Army. Does anyone know the name of the cemetery where he, as an American soldier would be. I have relatives close to Baccarat that could go there and take a photo of his grave. -- Louise

A: Many of our family perished on foreign soil during both World War I and World War II. And while many families had their fallen soldiers flown home and buried back in the United States, still many others were buried in Europe, close to where they fell.

For those with family members who died in World War I, it may be that no one in the family knows where some of them are buried, especially those who were buried in Europe. However, there is the American Battle Monuments Commission, that might hold some answers.

The American Battle Monuments Commission is responsible for military cemeteries on foreign soil.

American Battle Monuments Commission

The American Battle Monuments Commission was actually created as an independent agency by an act on 4 March 1923. Prior to this it was known as the Battle Monuments Board and was under the War Department from 1921. However, the first agency was the Graves Registration Service.

The Graves Registration Services was created in August, 1917. And most of their work was done by the Army Quartermaster Corps, which explains how it ended up under the War Department later on.

The purpose of the Commission is to design and maintain permanent U.S. military cemeteries and memorials on foreign soil. The land for these cemeteries has been donated by the host country free of taxes and any other charges. And in exchange, agreements have been reached about who can be buried in these cemeteries.

World War I Cemeteries

To mark the contributions by American soldiers eight cemeteries and eleven battlefield monuments were erected. Each of the eight cemeteries has a memorial chapel.

Not all of those eight cemeteries are located in France. However, that is the country with the most.

  • Aisne-Marne is located south of Belleau, France. This American Cemetery has 2,289 burials and a Wall of Missing with 1,060 names.
  • Brookwood is located southwest of the town of Brookwood, England. This cemetery has 468 burials and a Wall honoring the missing with 563 names.
  • Flanders Field is located on the southeast edge of the town of Waregem, Belgium. There are 368 buried here and another 43 names listed of those who were missing in action.
  • Meuse-Argonne is located east of the village of Romagne-sous-Montfaucon (Meuse), France. This is the largest of the cemeteries, with 14,246 soldiers buried here and another 954 names listed as missing in action.
  • Oise-Aisne is located one and a half miles east of Fere-en-Tardenois (Aisne). There are 6,012 soldiers buried in this cemetery and another 241 names of those missing in action engraved on the walls of the chapel.
  • Saint-Mihiel is located at the west edge of Thiaucourt, France. Here you will find 4,153 soldiers in their final resting place and 284 names of those who are missing in action.
  • Somme is located one-half mile southwest of the village of Bony (Aisne), France. This cemetery holds the graves of 1,844 soldiers and the names of 333 missing in action.
  • Suresnes is located in the suburb of Suresnes five miles west of the center of Paris in France. This cemetery has 1,541 graves and 974 names of those missing in action.

Contacting the Commission

For many years, it was necessary to contact the commission only through regular mail. You can still contact them this way by writing them at

American Battle Monuments Commission Operations
20 Massachusetts Ave.
Room 5127 Casmir Pulaski Building
Washington, DC 20314-0001

However, as with many things these days, it is now possible to do some of your research online. The Commission has a web site. This web site includes details about each of the cemeteries and monuments on foreign soil that fall under its responsibility.

Best of all, it contains a searchable database of those interred overseas and those who are missing in action from World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam. This would be the best place to begin your search for your relative.

In Conclusion

Even if you do not find your relative in their online database, you will want to write to them to request a search of their data. They will supply you with a photograph of the cemetery and your veteran's marker or name on the wall of those Missing in Action.

However, keep in mind that if your soldier was not buried in one of these cemeteries, you may still have to visit specific cemeteries in the town of Baccarat, France.

See Rhonda's Previous Columns

Rhonda R. McClure is a professional genealogist specializing in celebrity trees and computerized genealogy. She has been involved in online genealogy for fifteen years. She is the author of the award-winning The Complete Idiot's Guide to Online Genealogy, now in its second edition. She is the author of four how-to guides on Family Tree Maker. In late 2001, she wrote The Genealogist's Computer Companion. She is a contributing editor to Biography Magazine with her "Celebrity Roots" column and a contributing writer to The History Channel Magazine. Her latest book is Finding Your Famous and Infamous Ancestors. She may be contacted at rhondagen@thegenealogist.com.

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