Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Key Locations at Belleau Wood

This month marks the 99th anniversary of the U.S. Marine assault on Belleau Wood, so I thought I could share a few things that will help you understand what the media has to say about it. These comments and the graphic I've constructed below are based my own observations and questions and observations I've had from tour members on over a dozen visits to Belleau Wood.

1.  It is bigger than most people expect; the map below covers over a square mile.  You can't see it all from one position.

2.  The attack direction (red arrows) is not north to south, but from the southwest to northeast. This is because the Marines were attacking the side of a salient created by the recent German push to Ch√Ęteau-Thierry and the Marne river, which are southeast of Belleau Wood.

3. The American Cemetery is not shown on the graphic. It is just to the right of  of the last letter of the "Hunting Lodge" caption, but the wood is on a plateau and there is an abrupt drop-off down to the cemetery.

4.  The bottom illustration, C, by noted French artist George Scott, accurately depicts the wood at the end of the fighting. Following the battle of Belleau Wood, Scott traveled to the battlefield and interviewed Marine veterans of the struggle


  1. Just read chapters on this battle in _Thunder and Flames_.

  2. A profound and thought provoking location. The ABMC has a superb self-guided tour of the Woods.

  3. I have an ongoing project where I am working on photos my grandfather took during his service with the medical corps after the armistice. I was recently looking at a half dozen or so showing destruction in the Belleau Woods area.

    Then you post this article.

    Synchronicity is interesting!

    1. Jerry Beach jerry.beach@sbcglobal.netJune 29, 2017 at 3:59 PM

      Paul, Do you have these pictures posted anywhere? I would like to see them because my father fought in Belleau Wood and through to the end of the war. I would like to see pictures of anywhere (and everywhere) the Marines fought during The World War.

    2. I sent the 4 that I have to Jerry in response to a direct email.

      In case others are interested here are links to them on Google Drive.

      I'm pretty sure anyone can access them but let me know if not.

  4. Turns out there are only 4 Belleau Woods photos total. All are old, faded BW that I have not gotten around to trying to improve.

    For me, one of the interesting things about my photo collection is that my grandfather wrote captions on about 80% of the photos so I have some idea of what and where they are at least.

    The Belleau Woods ones include the following:
    2 photos of blown up trees simply labeled "Belleau Woods"
    1 photo of a few people looking around labeled "Amex cemetery at Belleau Woods"
    1 photo showing a small, partially destroyed, 2 story building with onlookers labeled
    "Old German machine gun nest in Belleau Woods. Bosche graves along side"

    These are from a "secondary" collection. If interested, see the following sites for info and sample photos from my "main" collection. Read the introduction on the first site for some background info.

    A selection of photos is also on

    I also have a (harder to navigate) Facebook page at

    Thanks for looking!


  5. Paul, those photos (on Tumblr and Facebook) are fascinating. Thank you for doing this work.