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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!