Friday, February 3, 2023

A military cemetery of which I'd never heard


A post on Gab alerted me to a US military cemetery in France I'd never heard of before.  I searched for more information, and found this article.

PLOTS A-D OF THE OISE Aisne American Cemetery hold the remains of American soldiers who died fighting in a small portion of Northern France during World War I. However set across the street unmarked and completely surrounded by impassible shrubbery is Plot E, a semi-secret fifth plot that contains the nearly forgotten bodies of a number of American soldiers who were executed for crimes committed during and after World War II.

. . .

The soldiers eventually interred in Plot E were tried for rape, murder, and in one case, desertion (although the remains of the deserter, Eddie Slovik, the only American executed for desertion in WWII, were returned to the states in 1987). After being convicted in U.S. courts martial held in Europe, the men were dishonorably discharged and executed via hanging or firing squad. In many cases, the men who were buried in Plot E were initially buried close to the site of their execution. Those bodies were later exhumed and moved to Oise Aisne in 1949 when the plot of shame was established.

Plot E has been referred to as an anti-memorial. No US flag is permitted to fly over the plot and the graves themselves, small in-ground stones the size of index cards, have no names; they are only differentiated by numbers. Even underground they are set apart with each body buried in Plot E positioned with its back to the main cemetery. The site does not exist on maps of the cemetery, and is not mentioned on their website.

There's more at the link, plus a photograph of the little cemetery. With no headstones visible, it looks very strange.

The men in those graves doubtless deserved their punishment.  However, as a pastor, I can't help praying for them to find mercy, because while I'm not guilty of their particular sins, I have more than enough of my own to worry about - as do we all.  If I'm in need of God's mercy, how much more them?

If you're so inclined, please join me in saying a prayer for their souls.  They probably need it.



LL said...

I realize that every army is representative of the national population from which it is drawn. Sometimes for soldiers, killing becomes so routine that there is a very fine line between duty and murder.

Uzi Galil said...

Healing the Haunted by Dr. Kenneth McAll gives fascinating accounts of lost souls who try to gain the attention of anyone sensitive to their plight. You would like it.

Michael said...

Luke 23:32-43

Even today condemned prisoners are given time to speak to the preacher of their choice.

One of the two prisoners crucified with Christ chose well, the other cursed him.

Each man is responsible for his own decisions/actions before the King.

bultaco1495 said...

' never understand Catholicism. ' can never find any basis for this belief, . . . that somehow when you die, your soul (long pause for emphasis), . . . goes someplace else, . . . other than towards God or heaven, . . . or to forever apart from God. There's no place, . . . "in between"!
Plus an additional idea is floated, that, . . . somehow those of us who remain here on earth, can somehow pray for those who are in this so called described place of, "in between", . . . as though it would make any difference.

Peter said...

@bultaco: Prayer for the souls of the dead is taken from one of the books Protestants call the Apocrypha - books that were in use in the Greek Old Testament (the Septuagint) during the time of Jesus, but not in the Temple in Jerusalem just before it was destroyed. The early Protestant fathers went with the latter books for their Old Testament, while the Catholic Church used the Septuagint from the very beginning, because most early converts to Christianity spoke Greek and could use it.

Anonymous said...

This idea of praying for departed souls seems to have become popular.

So if they are in hell, you would pray them out of hell?
Your prayers would bring comfort?

If they are with the LORD, you would pray to increase their joy?

Mark J said...

I've stumbled across this when reading an article on Emmett Till, the lynching victim in Mississippi. His father, Louis Till, is one of those that are buried in Plot E.

Seal Of Lion said...

Several German POW's who were court-martialed at Leavenworth for the murder of another POW were executed by hanging and buried at the cemetery there. They have headstones but I believe they are buried north to south and upside down. The idea being to prevent their resurrections. I also believe the families never requested the bodies back.

Sherm said...

As an aside, the poet Joyce Kilmer is buried in the main cemetery.

Peter said...

@Anonymous at 1.00PM: No, once the final destination is known (heaven or hell) that's it. No leaving. However, that's where the idea of Purgatory comes in - being cleansed of the stain of sin that was insufficiently repented during life. I'm not going to get into a theological debate about it: we'll find out soon enough who's right. Suffice it to say that there's Scriptural background for it.

MrGarabaldi said...

Hey Peter;

Over at Andersonville(the Infamous Civil War Prison in Georgia) there is a segment of the cemetery that is separate from all the others, those contain the bones of the soldiers that ruled the inside of the prison by fear and robbed their fellow soldiers as soon as they showed up of all their possessions that the confederates didn't take. They were eventually killed by their fellow soldiers and buried separately in disgrace.

Anonymous said...

I have a story for you gentlemen. Wife and I were at a fine Hawaiian resort and went to bed for the night. After a while I woke up stone cold awake and I looked at my alarm clock that read 2:00. So I look at the wall at the foot of the bed and there he was, in perfect clear detail, the ghost of a WW2 Marine GI. A smaller man of stature. Beside him he was holding his M1 Garand rifle which seemed large for him. I could see perfectly the fishnet camo on the helmet as I could even see the twists on the net material. So I am looking at him, and he is looking at me for maybe 5 or 6 seconds and then he started to disintegrate, like drifting smoke from his head down which blew away till he was completely gone. I was not struck with any fear. The point I believe was to see that this fellow was still on guard, protecting his little piece of Hawaii 75 years after he must have come to an untimely end. This, amongst some other experiences is why I believe that there is some time elapsed for souls to remain before the angels are sent for the big round-up in the courtyards of God. Your faith in the Saviour is not a waste. More stories upon request.