LA CAMBE: GERMAN CEMETERY
Friday 7 February 2003
La Cambe was an American cemetery before the cemetery at Colleville / Omaha beach was made. The cemetery was first set up after the battle for Isigny. An American field hospital was sited at La Cambe.
The atmosphere of this German cemetery contrasts with that of the cemetery at Colleville. At Colleville white marble crosses in perfect alinement give an air of brightness. Here the cemetery has a few dark granite saxon crosses.
- TUMULUS AND CROSSES
In the centre a tumulus ossuaire surmounted by a large saxon cross with a statue on each side.
- STATUE ON TUMULUS
A man and a woman mourning their lost family.
A very narrow entrance takes you through a monumental wall.
This represents the fact that death is lonely and you go one by one. There is a plaque 10in x 10in on the ground for each grave. Each grave has two bodies. The cemetery has several groups of Five saxon crosses in a line, the centre cross slightly bigger than the others. This is emblematic of the way the German soldiers were buried. The Germans were retreating in Normandy and their dead were buried by the allies. Allied soldiers didn’t take the same care as for their comrades. In one grave for german soldiers there were five bodies found with five crosses stuck in the mound. Thence the symbol of the five crosses.
In the american cemetery there are 307 unknown graves out of 9387. Here there are 13000 out of 21000 graves. There are two reasons for this difference. One is that the American soldier had two dog tags. One to stay with the body and the other for counting. The Germans didn’t. They also suffered greatly from artillery fire and aerial bombing. Bodies were often unrecognisable.
On the unknown graves one can sometimes find a small metal plaque, on a spike, with a name on. This means that the name of the soldier has recently been discovered.
- NAME PLAQUE
An association researching the names of the lost men and correlating with objects found and what was known of the lost men somtimes finds names even after nearly 60 years.
Standard wreaths put on graves by German visitors. There are also flowers put on certain graves. These are usually put there by French families. Many of the German soldiers in Normandy didn’t want to be here. Many of them weren’t even German. Some of these men tried to get on with the locals and live out their time before they could get back home. When they got killed they were remembered by the families that had got to know them as a human being rather than the invader.