PARIS — It was America’s deadliest battle ever, with 26,000 U.S. soldiers killed, tens of thousands wounded and more ammunition fired than in the whole of the Civil War. The Meuse-Argonne offensive of 1918 was also a great American victory that helped bring an end to World War 1.

Officials, descendants of soldiers and visitors braved strong winds and rain to attend a remembrance ceremony Sunday in the Meuse-Argonne cemetery, which is surrounded by green fields and forests in Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, a village in northeastern France.

All day, volunteers read the names aloud of the 14,246 Americans buried there. Covering 130 acres, Meuse-Argonne is the largest American cemetery in Europe.

Gerald York, grandson of World War I hero Sgt. Alvin York, praised a “beautiful commemoration.”

William M. Matz, secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission that maintains the site, said that this piece of history must be retold to younger generations.

“I think it’s important for their teachers, their parents to bring them to these beautiful sites, let them walk through the rows of crosses, let them look at the walls of remembrance, let them go into the cemetery chapels and let them learn the history of what these men did 100 years ago,” he said.

During seven weeks of combat, 1.2 million American troops led by Gen. John J. Pershing fought to advance on the entrenched positions held by about 450,000 Germans in the Verdun region.

The offensive that started on Sept. 26, 1918, was one of several simultaneous Allied attacks that brought the war that started in 1914 to an end, leading the Germans to retreat and sign the armistice on Nov. 11.

Pershing said “the success stands out as one of the very great achievements in the history of American arms.”

At the cemetery, eight wide grave sections with long regular rows of crosses stretch between the trees on the gentle slopes of a hill. On top is a chapel where the names of 954 missing American soldiers, whose bodies were never found or identified, are engraved.

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.