Americans in Flanders Fields: Names & Places 1917-1919
Four American Divisions fought in Belgium during the First World War: the 27th and the 30th near Ypres in July & August 1918, the 37th and 91st in the area between Waregem and Oudenaarde in October and November 1918. Also important is the liberation of the small village of Petite Chapelle near the French border on 10-11 November by the 370th Infantry Regiment, one of the few fighting African-American units. Besides the military presence in 1918, American individuals and organizations had been present near the front line in West Flanders previously: writer Mary Borden led a hospital serving French troops near Roesbrugge, Harvard neurosurgeon Harvey Cushing served in a British field hospital near Poperinghe in 1917, the American Red Cross led a number of aid programs for Belgian civilians, the American YMCA catered for Chinese laborers in British service, etc.
Today, apart from Flanders’ Field Cemetery in Waregem, the Ohio-Bridge in Oudenaarde, and the memorials in Kemmel and Oudenaarde, there is very little that reminds the visitor of the American presence in Flanders during the First World War. Moreover, the handful of existing American sites are set wide apart and not linked to each other.
With the financial support of, and in cooperation with the Embassy of the United States in Belgium, In Flanders Fields Museum together with the Smithsonian Institution (Washington, USA) will carry out a research and outreach project related to the American presence in Belgium during the First World War.
This project has several components that will be carried out between 2022 and 2024:
- Identifying all American victims who died on Belgian soil during the First World War and permanently integrating them into remembrance practices. Besides the military casualties who rest in Flanders' Field Cemetery in Waregem, this also concerns the American dead repatriated to the United States after the war.
- Exchanging expertise on First World War research and the related museology.
- Strengthening the American sites of the First World War in Belgium by developing an app with historical information and personal stories, and thus connecting these sites virtually to each other.
- A (travelling) exhibition to present the results of the project to a broad audience.
- A publication in which the results of the project will be presented.