After leaving Newton’s home last week I continued my drive to Southend, as was just on the outskirts of Cambridge when on a hillside to me right I spotted a large white building with 5 square pillars* and so my curiosity was piqued. Repeating the journey today gave me a chance to address my ignorance. Arriving today I soon learned that the large pillared building was not as white as it appeared, though there was plenty of white marble in evidence. Too much. This is the American Military Cemetery at Madingley where a field of crosses (and the occasional Star of David) mark that the remains of nearly 4000 servicemen and women who died in the Second World War are buried here.
To the south of the field of crosses (which was donated by Cambridge University) is a long wall guarded by four large figures each in the uniform of a different service, and inscribed with the names of a further 5127 missing in action. At one end of the wall stands the chapel, the pillared building whose doors bear bronze plaques featuring the hardware of the conflict. They lack the artistry of Ghiberti and Pisano of course, but in their own way they are also the Gates of Paradise. No poppies feature here, but the fields and pathways are still specked with blood-red.
Opposite the chapel the Stars and Stripes flutter from a large flagpole, and linking the two a long narrow pool, whose still surface forms a perfect mirror. The Reflecting Pool mirrors not just the surrounding scenery, but a larger pool that joins the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument. The effect is one of great tranquility. *The pillars of the chapel incidentally represent the 5 years that America was committed to the war; 1941-45.