NEWPORT, R.I. - International Naval War College students conducted a memorial ceremony at the Newport Cemetery to honor fallen German and British sailors who died in World War II, on Nov. 15. Cdr. Thorsten Marx from Germany, Cdr. Rob Wilson from the United Kingdom, and 12 colleagues in the current Naval Command College class joined together in the commemoration.
Since 1952 Germany remembers the victims of war, violence and suppression in public ceremonies every year on the 3rd Sunday in November. Every year, the German Naval Officer attending the Naval Command College conducts this ceremony on behalf of his nation at the Newport Van Zandt (Island) cemetery.
For the first time, this year the U.K. officer, Wilson, joined with Marx in this service as a show of solidarity and because there are also seven British WWII sailors buried in that same cemetery.
Both officers stressed that this mourning day is not only a day commemorating the dead of the two World Wars, but also to remember the million sufferers of war, tyranny and terrorism.
The ceremony included a wreath laying. Cdr. Marx made the following remarks:
"On this cemetery we bow in humility in front of the graves of two German sailors buried here after World War II. Guenther Heder was a machinery petty officer on the German submarine "U 550", which was sunk on April 16th, 1944 off Long Island by USS Peterson, USS Joyce and USS Gandy after having attacked a US convoy. The submarine managed to surface after depth charges damaged the boat, but sunk after successive damage by artillery and ramming. Only 12 crew members survived. Guenther Heder was initially been taken care of by the local population before he died because of his severe injuries only weeks later. The other graveside is the last rest of an unknown sailor who died in the submarine "U 853", which apparently and sadly enough did not receive the broadcast message ordering termination of hostilities at sea on May 4th, 1945. The submarine continued to conduct anti merchant traffic operations and was sunk May 6th, 1945 by USS Moberly and USS Atherton after hedgehog and depth Charge attacks. It sunk off the coast of Block Island with its complete crew. The submarine was found in 1960 by divers, who brought ashore the remainders of one of the crew members. According to the wish of the German Government it was decided to leave the boat on the bottom of the sea and not to disturb the grave of the rest of the crew."
Provided by the Naval Command College
Photos by LtCol Michelle Barrett, USAF, NCC