Good fortune alone meant that the weather for this, our latest trip, was perfect. A little chilly in the wind, but the blue skies and a low winter sun ensured that this beautiful setting looked truly magnificent for Dot, Malcolm, Bennet and myself.

The serried ranks of 3,811 white marble headstones shone brightly in the sunshine, casting long shadows across the perfectly manicured lawns of the thirty acre site which was donated by Cambridge University and which slopes down to grand views to the east and over the Cambridgeshire countryside. 

The stones radiate from a single point close to a flagpole bearing the stars and stripes, and the accuracy of their positioning is really incredible. Something Malcolm, with his background in engineering, found particularly impressive. Their alignment ensures that the head of every single grave faces directly towards the flag.

Before walking amongst the graves we called in at the visitor centre which was built around five years ago. There are impressive displays, both static, interactive and video, mapping the history of WW2 and illustrating America's involvement in it. The centre is fairly accessible although for those with limited or no vision there is no audio assist, so the videos with sound track become the focal point.

Before setting off Dot had done a little research and discovered that three of the air crew that had died in the B-17 Flying Fortress ‘Mi Amigo’ that crashed in Sheffield in February 1944, and who were commemorated recently for their selfless heroism, are buried in the cemetery. A curator at the visitor centre offered to show us their graves and proceeded to give us a guided tour filled with fascinating insights, including the fact that every headstone is washed three times each week! This tour service is probably not something you could expect every visit, or if the cemetery had been busier, but we were lucky and it made the experience a far richer one.

Apart from the graves of the servicemen themselves, there are 5,127 names recorded on the Walls of the Missing. An enormous face of stone, meticulously etched with the names and details of each serviceman and woman, and at the end of the wall sits the memorial with a chapel, adorned with stunning maps, state seals, military decorations and an enormous mosaic ceiling commemorating the dead of the US Air Force.

For those that haven’t been already we would highly recommend a visit. It is a beautiful, tranquil setting, perfect for contemplation and reflection. But try and pick a day with reasonable weather. With its exposed setting it will make all the difference!

The cemetery is free and is open to the public every day (except December 25th and January 1st) from 9am until 5pm.

Directions are available on their website but the address is The Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial, Madingley Road, Coton CB23 7PH, Cambridge.

Image: Dot, Malcolm, Guide Dog Bennet and our guide at the grave of Sergeant Maurice Robbins, tail gunner aboard the Mi Amigo.