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The Yankee Division Memorial Church

After the battle of Belleau Wood, the men of the 26th "Yankee" Division relieved the Marines at Belleau, and on July 18, 1918 were to advance and take the village. The German troops were hidden in the village of Belleau and the hill above the town. A five hundred-year-old church stood in the center of the village and its tower became an enemy observation post and machine gun position. General Clarence Edwards ordered the 103rd Field Artillery to fire and destroy the village and church. After the battle, he promised to rebuild the church for the people of Belleau.

Ten years after the end of the war, the church was rebuilt at the entrance of the village. The funds for the project came from veterans of the 26th Division. The new church was dedicated on October 10, 1929. At the dedication ceremony, Brigadier General John Sherburne spoke about the men who died here and the plans to honor them. He also addressed the special friendship between France and the United States. Some of his words follow.

"A century and a half ago, your soldiers helped us in our struggle for independence; your blood mingled with our soil and our community is still grateful to France, our friend.

"Eleven years ago, nearly 3,000 New England men gave up their lives in the common cause. We, their comrades, that their sacrifice may not be forgotten have erected this Memorial and upon its walls will inscribe their names, and we have thought it appropriate that this Memorial should stand upon the soil of France where these men still lie.

"By the necessity of war, it was our misfortune to destroy the church which served this parish for five hundred years and we have thought that as well as building a memorial to our own dead, it would be fitting and proper to restore to this town its place of worship.

"We have rebuilt your church, using the old stones and plans, as nearly as possible as it was and it may be interesting to you to know that the money which has made this reconstruction possible has not come from public subscription or State aid but has been given almost to the last dollar by the men of the Division itself. It is to be your church, not ours, and it is given into your custody for your own use in the hope that the record of our sacrifice which it contains may be a permanent and undying pledge of the community of faith and friendship between our two countries."

The stone church at the entrance to Belleau is the only memorial in France dedicated to the men of the Yankee Division.


Front view of the church.


Right side of the church. Houses are at the entrance to Belleau.


Inside the church, here is the main altar. The stained glass windows picture Saint Michael and Joan of Arc.


Inside the church, to the left, is the honor plate for the members of the 102nd Infantry.


Philip Edwards' name on the honor roll of the 102nd Infantry.


The following were sources of reference for the above text:

Military historian Gilles Lagin of Marigny en Orxois, France.
Yankee Doings. Yankee Division Veterans Association. Vol X. No.11, November 1929.



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