Brookwood American Cemetery

Historical Background

Before the United States entered the war, the nation shipped food and supplies to the United Kingdom by way of merchant ships. The ships became targets when the Germans resumed unrestricted submarine warfare in February 1917. The United States responded by assembling convoys of supply ships protected by United States Coast Guard ships and United States Navy warships. The convoys included troop ships after the United States had entered the war, April 2, 1917.

The battle of the North Atlantic involved protecting the sea-lanes so the United States could bring troops and supplies to the battlefields of Europe.  U-Boat attacks claimed many lives. The men who died in these convoys are buried or remembered at Brookwood American Cemetery. Had it not been for the sacrifices of the United States service men and women honored at Brookwood American Cemetery, the Allied Forces could not have been successful in ending the war when they did.

Brookwood American Cemetery provides an opportunity to explore how the United States has worked with the United Kingdom to honor and commemorate American lives sacrificed in the prosecution of The Great War. Ninety-nine cemeteries scattered throughout the United Kingdom held the remains of Americans at the time of the Armistice in 1918; Brookwood was one.  By 1921, the United States War Department decided that the un-repatriated dead would be interred at Brookwood. A year later, the British government granted the land at Brookwood in perpetuity for use as an American cemetery.

The construction and placement of Brookwood American Cemetery close to London were symbolic of the unique bonds that existed between the people of the United Kingdom and the United States. General John J. Pershing wrote, “The hospitable reception of those of our forces who passed through England has impressed upon us how closely common language and blood have brought together the British and ourselves.”

Brookwood American Cemetery is a powerful place in which to appreciate the impact the loss of lives at sea, and how the reverberations affected the Allied war effort and the families at home.  Brookwood Cemetery reminds us of the pain of loss, the pride in sacrifice, and the drive to honor the fallen. President Woodrow Wilson declared in 1917, “We have no selfish ends to serve, we desire no conquest, no dominion. We seek no indemnities for ourselves, no material compensation for the sacrifices we shall freely make. We are but one of the champions of the rights of mankind.”


Egerton Swartwout designed the Beaux-Arts chapel that was dedicated on August 15, 1937. The chapel is made from limestone. Inscriptions on the interior walls bear the names of 563 American soldiers, sailors, and Coast Guardsmen who died at sea and were not recovered.

Small stained glass windows illuminate the interior of the chapel. Two columns frame the altar. Above the table stands a cross, a Star of David and two tablets symbolizing the Ten Commandments. The Great Seal of the United States is set in the wall above the table, and in the center of the floor.


Brookwood American Cemetery Chapel by CyArk on Sketchfab


00:30 / 01:00