NEWPORT, R.I. - Each November Germany remembers the victims of war, violence and suppression in national public ceremonies. Not known to many, Newport’s Van Zandt Street cemetery contains the remains of two German submarine sailors killed in action off the New England coast during World War II.
Each year, to honor the service of these and others, the German naval officer attending the course at the Naval Command College Class conducts a memorial ceremony. This year Cmdr. Gunnar F.W. Jopp, conducted a brief service and wreath laying on Sunday, Nov. 13.
He was joined by the Director of the Naval Command College, Professor Vincent P. Mocini, other Naval War College faculty, sponsors and officers from seven European countries, Canada, Israel, Japan, and the United States.
One grave contains the remains of Günther Heder, a machinery Petty Officer on the German submarine U-550, which was attacked, forced to surface and was subsequently sunk on April 16, 1944, in a battle with USS Peterson (DE-152), USS Joyce (DE-317), and USS Gandy (DE-794). Joyce rescued 13 of the German sailors, including Heder, who died some weeks later from severe injuries.
The second grave is the final resting place of an unknown sailor from the submarine U-853
, which apparently did not receive the broadcast message ordering the termination of hostilities on May 4, 1945. In action on May 5, it torpedoed and sank SS Black Point
, carrying coal bound for Boston. On May 6 it was located, attacked and sunk by USS Amick
(DE-168), USS Atherton
(DE-169), and USS Moberly
(PF-63). The submarine was discovered by divers in 1960, who brought ashore the remains of one crew member. The German government requested that divers not disturb the wreck further, and the remains of the unknown sailor were buried in Newport.
Jopp laid two wreaths and stated in his remarks that even 66 years later, World War II still casts a long shadow. He noted, "It is a distant, but not a done with part of Germany's past." The participants present underlined the solidarity among these nations today and the fact that these former enemies are reconciled and are close allies and friends.
From Naval Command College
Posted by Cmdr. Carla McCarthy