The Beautiful American War Cemetery, Madingley

Stars and Stripes

The American War Cemetery at Madingley, near Cambridge, is the only one of it’s kind in the UK.

More than 3 million Americans came to the British Isles in World War 2 and here, in this beautiful and peaceful part of England, is where 3,812 of them are at rest. Alongside this, there are the ‘Tablets of the Missing’, a wall that is engraved with the names of 5,127 Americans missing.

AWC 7

It was a cold, crisp and sunny morning, a beautiful day to pay my respects on what was my first ever visit to a War Cemetery.

AWC 2

As I walked into the cemetery and saw for the first time the immaculately kept grass, thousands of grave stones and row upon row of names, this remarkable resting place for the fallen immediately felt very moving.

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AWC 1

One grave in particular that stood out was that of William C. Boucek from Pennsylvania who died on June 30th 1945.

The war in Europe ended in May 1945, nearly two months earlier and yet this young man had tragically lost his life afterwards.

I stood there wondering what had happened to him. Had he been injured earlier in the war and had only then succumbed to his injuries? Was it an accident?

Later in the day, I found out what had happened to William C. Boucek and how he had come to sadly lose his life, keep reading to find out more.

Tablets of the Missing

Statue 2

Just as moving as the graves themselves are the ‘Tablets of the Missing’, a long, Portland stone wall with names of the 5,127 missing Americans.

Standing guard on this wall are four statues, a Soldier, Airman, Sailor and Coast Guardsman.

Chapel 6

Located at the end of the ‘Tablets of the Missing’ is the Memorial. A beautiful building which contains a large battle map and small chapel.

The inscription atop of the memorial’s north face reads Grant unto them O Lord eternal rest.

Chapel 4

Chapel 3

Chapel 2

What happened to William C. Boucek

When I returned home later in the day, I tweeted a picture of William’s head stone. Some others were intrigued by this as later in the evening I received some tweets from @MichaelNewbury, @SpudgunB and @Mike_RBL_Rider to whom I am very grateful for the following information:

William Claude Boucek, was born on October 14th 1924 in Allegeny, Pennsylvania. He was killed in an accident at RAF Bentwaters, when his P51 lost a wing and crashed. He bailed out but tragically his chute didn’t open.

He had completed two missions with the 360 Fighter Squadron based at Martlesham Heath but had recently converted from flying bombers. He held the Air Medal with Four Oak Leaf Clusters.

William C. Boucek 1924 – 1945

William C. Boucek

The thousands of brave, young Americans buried here, are sadly a long way from home, but they rest peacefully in a beautiful place, they are deeply cared for and will never be forgotten!

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Comments

  1. Mike Edwards says

    I’ve been going for the last 2 years, will be going agian this year. you might find this site of interest, One ride, three nations: United in Remembrance of our fallen heroes. Lots of pictures of previous visits here, and in the US and Canada.

    http://www.alliedride.org/

    • Ross Corbett says

      Hi Mike, what a terrific website! Thank you for sharing the link, I look forward to reading more about it.

      Thanks again.

  2. Nicola Quinn says

    Not been here but have been to the American
    Cemetery in Normandy that was very moving
    So I can imagine this is as well.

    • Ross Corbett says

      Hi Nicola, I have yet to visit Normandy but I hope to change that this year. I will certainly visit the Cemetery there and like you said, they are all very moving.

  3. Bob Long says

    I have visited Madingley 3 times with the Royal British Legion Riders. We ride there on the first Saturday of June each year. There is also a corresponding run in Canada and America. The Allied Military Remembrance Ride is very well supported. Why not visit next June.

    • Ross Corbett says

      Hi Bob, thanks for letting me know, if I am available in June then I will certainly try my best to be there.

  4. Robin Wilson says

    Not yet but been to lots in Normandy.. Been 4 times and its amazing and humbling at the same time. Highly recommend Normandy if you have not been yet. Thanks for great site

    • Ross Corbett says

      Hi Robin, I have yet to visit Normandy but I can assure you it is high up on my list of places to visit. Thank you for your kind comment and I’m delighted you like the website.

  5. Jonathan says

    Very reminiscent of the cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer.

    I just can’t help feeling though that the United States missed a trick in using the Cross as a grave marker. The lack of space means there is little room for personal details which the British and Commonwealth graves allow for with such dignity. Does the gold writing on Medal of Honor winners really give equality in death? Compare and contrast to a VC winner.

    • Ross Corbett says

      Hi Jonathan.

      Yes, I think you have a good point regarding the US using a cross as a grave marker. It would have been nice to have a little more space to add some personal information.

      You also mention the gold writing for the Medal of Honor winners, I did not see any of these on the crosses but there was one on the wall of remembrance. Personally, I don’t think certain graves should be made to stand out more than others.

      Most certainly a moving place, full of brave young serviceman.

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