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Remembered Today:

Montmédy German Cemetery, dept. of Meuse, NE France


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Hi all,

On my way to revisit the former RCAF station at Marville (1 Fighter Wing, 1 Air Div), I paid a visit to the Soldatenfriedhof Montmedy.

Buried in the cemetery in single and communal graves are

2,464 Germans, 4 Belgian civilians, 4 UK servicemen, 155 French (among them a few Alsacians), 36 Italians and 168 Russians (Wounded German soldaten and Allied prisoners of war who succumbed to their wounds, sickness or ill-treatment). This is a quiet, rather sombre but reasonably well maintained spot situated in the shadow of the citadel of Montmédy-Haut, just off the road to Marville and Longuyon.

The light was exceptionally good on 20 October last so here goes (hope the upload process works...).

 

 

AA Montmedy German + MVL 10 oct 2020 (32).JPG

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AA Montmedy German + MVL 10 oct 2020 (52).JPG

AA Montmedy German + MVL 10 oct 2020 (57).JPG

AA Montmedy German + MVL 10 oct 2020 (67).JPG

AA Montmedy German + MVL 10 oct 2020 (74).JPG

AA Montmedy German + MVL 10 oct 2020 (87).JPG

AA Montmedy German + MVL 10 oct 2020 (102).JPG

AA Montmedy German + MVL 10 oct 2020 (114).JPG

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I know this cemetery quite well. My wife and I go to Montmedy for lunch a couple of times a year (normally). The best restaurant there is the one very near the cemetery on the road beside the river. It's a bit quirky, but very nice food.

However, if you go up to the fortress and find the old town cemetery, there is a mass grave of both French and German soldiers. Which is quite unusual, I have no idea why there are the two cemeteries.

 

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Hi Healdav,

Is the cemetery you're talking about located on the straight road leading from the fork in the bend of the N43 to the citadel entrance, on the right-hand side when looking towards the 'place forte'?

And by the way, can you tell me if the hollow shell facing the church in the fortress has been finally rebuilt (it was once a restaurant and a watering hole for the Canucks based at nearby Marville air base ... The Nord Meusien is such a beautiful area but sadly a bit far from Brussels where I live.

Cheers.

 

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There are 3 German cemeteries or at least places with German graves in Montmédy: https://kriegsgraeberstaetten.volksbund.de/friedhof/montmedy

 

The two mass graves were left as they were because it was impossible to separate the remains undoubtedly. As reburying German dead on French cemeteries was not considered a good idea after the war and moving even individually unidentifiable French to a German cemetery was totally out of the question, these mass graves were just left where they were.

 

I can see that the 4 British headstones are standing on the mass graves as well, so they are (or at least should be) special memorials ("known to be buried in this cemetery" or "buried near this spot").

 

The Belgians are undoubtedly Zivilarbeiter (forced civilian labourers).

 

Jan

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Hi Jan,

bedankt for your input and link to the VDK site. Very interesting and extremely detailed info.

Keep safe from this b... 'Chinese virus'.

F100D

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Jan,

concerning the pic of KOSIMIN Fedor's marker, I'm at a loss about the inscription: was it possible for a Russian national to be serving with an (apparently) German unit (9 Schutz. Regt.) and be regarded as a member of the French army (Mort pour la France ...) at the same time? Possibly a typo or have you another explanation?

Thanks in advance.

F100D

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5 minutes ago, F100D said:

Jan,

concerning the pic of KOSIMIN Fedor's marker, I'm at a loss about the inscription: was it possible for a Russian national to be serving with an (apparently) German unit (9 Schutz. Regt.) and be regarded as a member of the French army (Mort pour la France ...) at the same time? Possibly a typo or have you another explanation?

Thanks in advance.

F100D

 

That's his Russian unit. Most of the Russians on German cemeteries have French grave markers including the "mort pour la France" or something similar inscription. IIRC this was the same for the Belgian civilian labourers buried on French or German cemeteries in France until a few years ago when the Belgian war graves service had all the grave markers checked and new plaques placed and a round badge added with the Belgian colours. (they should have had the names corrected at the same time)

 

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Thanks Jan.

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On 29/10/2020 at 10:54, F100D said:

Hi Healdav,

Is the cemetery you're talking about located on the straight road leading from the fork in the bend of the N43 to the citadel entrance, on the right-hand side when looking towards the 'place forte'?

And by the way, can you tell me if the hollow shell facing the church in the fortress has been finally rebuilt (it was once a restaurant and a watering hole for the Canucks based at nearby Marville air base ... The Nord Meusien is such a beautiful area but sadly a bit far from Brussels where I live.

Cheers.

 

Yes. It's sort of around the back so to speak.

I haven't been to Montmedy for a year or so for obvious reasons, but when I was last there it was still a shell. I remember it first as a restaurant, then it was just a bar, then a Pizzeria, then derelict. There is, or was, a new sort of wooden prefabricated bar with some microwave meals just beside it.

If I can ever get there again! I will be interested to see what is left.

The walk around the walls is well worth while. Buy your ticket in the office opposite the bar. The first room, which gets all the publicity, is the works of a local and not very good artist, but after that there is a fascinating museum of fortifications, and then you go outside for the walk. Allow about 3 hours or so for the lot.

 

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I visited the entire site with family a couple of years ago. I must admit I was as much attracted (and fascinated) by the surrounding countryside as by the fortress itself.

Provided the right light, the whole place is a delight. About 80 people live up there permanently, with some houses being rehabilitated.

Of interest is the new, completely refurbished organ in the church (cfr. the nice little video on Marville in the excellent series DES RACINES ET DES AILES on YouTube).

Wish I could live there with places such as Avioth cathedral and Orval abbey close by. To say nothing of the amazing and very old St Hilaire cemetery, just north of Marville which contains the graves of dependants of the Canadian personnel once based at RCAF Station Marville, some of them being one-day-old babies. Heart-rending...

I have a very special interest in the old flying station (1954-67) which sadly is now almost completey covered with photovoltaic panels, disfiguring it for ever...

Cheers.

F100D

 

 

 

AA Montmedy German + MVL 10 oct 2020 (129).JPG

AA Montmedy German + MVL 10 oct 2020 (160).JPG

AA Montmedy German + MVL 10 oct 2020 (162).JPG

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I have been in touch with the Canadian Air Force about the number of babies buried at Marville (interesting that the grave markers are all French military). They told me that no one now remembers just why there are so many, but they suspect it may have been the polio epidemic at the time - most are 1956/57.

The 'modern' town on the opposite hillside is fascinating and most strange, with the ruined houses, and so on.

The one place I haven't been is in the chapel in the cemetery, which I have been told is very interesting, but it never appears to be open.

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You probably know that, from 2002, Veterans Affairs Canada carried out significant rehabilitation work in its plots in France and Germany. The Canadian section in St Hilaire was restored in 2003, with new concrete crosses erected and 50-year leases taken for the dependants' graves. Those laid to rest in graves now lost (yes, this did happen) have their names inscribed on the large memorial stone (pic above) located in the 'modern' part of the cemetery. More info @ veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/memorials/canadian-armed-forces/canadian-post-war-military-dependant-graves. 

There is also the famous 'ossuaire' which contains 40.000 skulls (figure not checked) neatly stacked along the walls of the building in a corner of the burial ground - worth taking a peek but nothing to write home about. I must also mention that a few graves were desecrated some years ago by young Dutch 'gothics' in a macabre ceremony...

The keeper of the place no longer lives on the spot so I suppose the key to St Hilaire's chapel/church may be obtained from Marville town hall. It's a shame since the most interesting burial stones (i.e. those of the rich and famous) are now preserved inside...). 

Picture shows a corner of Marville with (off-pic left) the town hall where 217 marriages were contracted between Canadian nationals and 8 between Canucks and French 

citizens. Tragically, there were 62 fatal road accidents in the Marville area only between 1955 and 1967; these men and women rest in Choloy RCAF Cemetery (28 km west of Nancy and 5 from Toul) which adjoins Choloy War Cemetery (ww2).

I could go on forever but I don't want to wear you out...

Cheers.

F100D

 

 

Famille LEGLISE 20 sept 2013 140.JPG

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