The North Africa American Cemetery - History and Facts | History Hit

The North Africa American Cemetery

Tunis, Tunis, Tunisia

The North Africa American Cemetery is a World War II military graveyard in Tunisia.

Peta Stamper

06 May 2021

About The North Africa American Cemetery

The North Africa American Cemetery in Tunisia is a military cemetery and memorial site for casualties of World War Two. In particular, the North Africa American Cemetery houses the graves of those who were killed in campaigns in North Africa and the Persian Gulf.

Tunisia was the site of fierce fighting between Allied and Axis powers, especially between 1942 and 1943. The North Africa American Cemetery is home to 2,841 graves and a Wall of the Missing inscribed with the names of 3,724 soldiers who went missing in action.

The North Africa American Cemetery history

From November 1942, large numbers of Axis troops had arrived in Tunisia and were able to mount a significant defence against the British invasion under General Kenneth Anderson, particularly at the Battle of el-Alamain in October of that year. However, while Germany and Italy held Tunis, they would continue to mis-focus resources on keeping North Africa rather than directing support back to Europe.

In February 1943, Aixs forces delivered a major attack on US forces between the Fā’id Pass in the north and Gafsa in the south. The Panzer division destroyed the 100 US tanks, driving the Americans back 50 miles. The Germans had overcome the stubborn US resistance but suffered massive tank defeats only weeks later by General Montgomery.

By April 1943 the Americans were pushing back the German Afrika Korps and in May, the Allied recaptured Tunis. With North Africa free of Axis forces, the Allies could control shipping and naval movement in the Mediterranean.

Dedicated in 1960, the North Africa American Cemetery was the only cemetery in North Africa and covered 27 acres of land close to the ancient city of Carthage. The site has since been administered by the American Battle Monuments Commission.

The North Africa American Cemetery today

Today, the cemetery is a peaceful oasis within Tunisia’s fierce heat and is open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm. Under a canopy of trees and blue skies lay over 2,800 Americans marked by white headstones. At the cemetery’s entrance visitors are met by a sculpted figure called Honour, laying a wreath to those remembered at the cemetery. Walk along the Wall of the Missing which holds the engraved names of 3,724 missing servicemen.

An open-air portico in the Tunisian style displays mosaic operational maps that depict the African campaigns and are explained in English, Arabic and French. There is also a chapel on site made of polished marble and Moroccan ceder. While wandering the site you will likely hear the drifting prayers from nearby mosques.

Getting to The North Africa American Cemetery

Situated within the ancient city of Carthage on the Tunisian coast, you can reach the North Africa American Cemetery in 20 minutes by car via N19. There is plenty of nearby car parking. If using public transport, Carthage Presidency rail station is only a 5 minute walk away. Otherwise, you could get a bus to the same stop.