The Gravestone Collector, Posted: Saturday, October 18, 2014
WWII German and Italian Soldiers Buried in Massachusetts – Fort Devens Cemetery, Fort Devens, Massachusetts.
The story for today’s post is one I stumbled upon quite accidentally. As an Army Reserve Chaplain in Maine, I at times need to go down to Fort Devens, MA for training. This weekend was one of those weekends. As you might imagine, I had no prospects of exploring cemeteries while there. So what I am about to tell you presented itself unexpectedly. A fellow Chaplain had been asked to give the invocation and benediction for a memorial ceremony held in the Fort Devens Cemetery. I of course asked to tag along. What I discovered was that this was no regular ceremony. We had not gathered together to honor American soldiers, but rather twenty Germans and two Italians who had fought during WWII.
Now you may not know, and I did not know, that during WWII Fort Devens contained a POW camp. German and Italian prisoners captured over seas where sent here to wait out the rest of the war. From what I heard during the ceremony, nearly 5,000 were held here at one time or another. However, not all of them were fortunate enough to make it home. Twenty two died during there imprisonment and were buried here at Devens. Interestingly enough they were buried right along with the American soldiers and their families also buried in this cemetery. On a regular basis family, friends, and persons of Italian and German heritage gather here to pay homage to these men. Their countries, once enemies of the United States, are now allies.
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