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The Dead

Unlike later wars, where combat fatalities were airlifted back to the United States for burial in family or national military cemeteries, the Allied dead of the Normandy invasion were buried close to where they fell. The decomposing bodies represented a health risk to the living, so it was important to bury them as soon as it could be done safely. Rather than use Allied troops for this purpose, the Allies put German prisoners of war to work laying out the cemeteries, digging graves, and interring the combat slain. This simultaneously freed Allied soldiers for more vital tasks elsewhere in the combat zone, while preventing the Germans from sitting idle. The cemetery contains both German and Allied casualties.