The role of Brazil in the European theatre of World War II is one of the least well known aspects of the war. This Italian cemetery is the memorial to that role.
In 1944, 25,000 soldiers of the Brazilian Expeditionary Force fought against German and Italian troops in Italy. In their final push, the Brazilians advanced as far as Turin and on May 2 they joined up with French troops at the border in Susa.
The Brazilian Military Cemetery (formerly the WWII memorial cemetery) is located in Pistoia, Tuscany, where most of the Brazilians that died in the war were originally buried.
The cemetery once contained the remains of 463 Brazilian soldiers, most of whom lost their lives in the Italian Spring Offensive in 1945. But 15 years after the war’s end, the cemetery was closed, and their remains were removed and officially re-interred in Brazil, at the new “Monumento Nacional aos Mortos da Segunda Guerra Mundial.” This current war cemetery is located on Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro.
After the remains were transferred, the body of a soldier was found remaining in the cemetery. The Brazilian Government chose to leave it there and create a new Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. In 1967 the cemetery reopened with the inauguration of a new monument.