The Brookwood American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) Memorial and Cemetery are located about 28 miles southwest of London, just outside of the city of Woking in Surrey. The site covers 4.5 acres and is a part of a large complex established in 1854 which covers 500 acres and contains over 235,000 interments. There is also a 37 acre Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery here, which has 1,601 WW1 burials and 3,476 WW2 burials. Some of these burials are non-British, including whole sections of French and Italians from WW2.

The ABMC site was designed by the New York architect Egerton Swartwout (1870–1943), with assistance from British architect Harry Bulkeley Creswell (1869–1960). Swartwout designed over 100 buildings in his career, mostly in the Beaux-Arts style. Six are listed today on The National Register. He was a Yale graduate of 1891 but had no formal architectural education, starting out as a junior draftsman for the famed architect Stanford White. Swartwout’s most famous creation was the Missouri State Capitol building in Jefferson City, and he also designed the ABMC’s Montsec Memorial in the Meuse-Argonne.

Creswell was brought on board to do the local legwork. He was an early proponent of Functionalism, and he mostly designed industrial structures. He was also an author, producing novels and children’s books. Two of his titles, The Honeywood File and The Honeywood Settlement, are currently available in re-print.

The cemetery is laid out in symmetrical plots surrounding a flagpole. There are 427 marked graves and 41 unknowns. During WW2 an additional 3,300 dead were buried at ABMC Brookwood, but in 1948 all of these were either repatriated to the U.S. or re-interred at the ABMC Cemetery at Colton in Cambridgeshire.

The Brookwood chapel is a Classical-style Portland Stone building located on the north-end of the site. The interior is of tan-hued stone, featuring an Altar of Sacrifice, a carved cross, two oak pews, flags and 18 stained glass windows, each bearing the names of the states and territories of 1918, as well as branch and unit insignia, worked into the patterns. On the walls are inscribed the names of 563 missing Americans, most of whom died at sea.

USS Alcedo

Included are 21 men from the sinking of the USS Alcedo by UC-71, lost one hundred years ago Sunday, Dec. 17th 1917.

SS Tuscania

There are also 210 from the torpedoing of the British troopship SS Tuscania by UB-77 on Feb. 5th, 1918, the 115 men lost in the sinking of the USCGC Tampa by UB-91 on Sept. 26th, 1918,

HMS Otranto

and 42 from the troopship HMS Otranto which collided with HMS Kashmir on Oct. 6th, 1918.

The sinking of the Tampa was the largest loss of life incurred by the US Navy in WW1 and also the largest loss ever suffered by the U.S. Coast Guard to date.

A total of 358 American soldiers died on the Otranto, the largest American loss of life at sea of WW1. Many of the identified dead are interred at Brookwood.

 

James (“Jim”) Patton BS BA MPA is a retired state official from Shawnee, Kansas and a frequent contributor to several WW1 e-publications, including "Roads to the Great War," "St. Mihiel Tripwire," "Over the Top" and "Medicine in the First World War." He has spent many hours walking the WW1 battlefields, and is also an authority on British regiments and a collector of their badges. An Army Engineer during the Vietnam War, he does work for the US World War 1 Centennial Commission and has memberships in the WW1 Historical Association, the Western Front Association, the Indian Military Historical Society and the Salonika Campaign Society.