Saturday, November 8, 2014

WWII German Soldiers Buried in North Cotes, Lincolnshire, England Churchyard

In July of this year, the fields of poppies were still in full bloom.
What a beautiful sight as we drove through the Lincolnshire Wolds countryside. 

With this Tuesday being Veteran's Day (Armistice Day) I thought about all the fallen soldiers, the hundred of thousands of graves around the world. I thought of the poppy as the symbol which has been worn singularly on the lapel or amassed into a wreath to be laid on a loved one's grave. I thought about the parish churches in Lincolnshire, England, with all their memorials and lists of names of their soldiers who died serving their country. How proud these people were of their soldiers. Both world wars hit England hard.

I thought of North Cotes (St. Nicholas) parish church graveyard in particular. In and earlier post, I mentioned visiting this churchyard this past July and not getting pictures of my ancestor's headstones. I'd like to forget that blunder, but it is hard to forget the unassuming site of soldiers' headstones lined up, row by row. I was struck at the time seeing a couple German soldiers' headstones mixed into the rows of the local boys who had fallen during WWII. 

These German soldiers -- the enemy -- seemed to have received the same burial rights and headstones as the others. How striking that was to me. I could only think of a common American phrase to describe this plot of graves as "equal opportunity burial." I can only wonder what the loved ones of these German soldiers felt when they learned about where their son or husband was buried and how their honor was being preserved by people they were at war with. I was moved speechless.

This site was marked off by a neatly trimmed hedge. The graves were very well kept and there were flowers planted around the headstones. Even the German soldiers' graves had flowers. 

Peaking above the front hedge are some of the roses planted by the soldiers' graves.

The hedge zig-zags marking the war graves of local soldiers and a few German soldiers.

The pictures above were taken last July. As I'm writing this, it is a week past coming home from my annual trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. During my time down on the British Isles floor cranking away at microfilm I came across the entries for many of these soldiers. It was an emotional feeling seeing all the actual burial entries. I was most moved when I saw a couple of the German soldiers' names. They were written on the pages in the same respectful fashion as the English soldiers'. They all became a little more real to me as I read through each line.

Unknown German; Ober ? No. 147/57357; buried 26 Aug 1943; age unknown 

Helmutt Kress, Sergeant German Air Force, buried 5 Oct 1940, age 22

Both sides in war lose loved ones. May they all rest in peace. Lest we forget.

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