212. The African-American gravediggers of Margraten
In the autumn of 1944, the Americans choose the village of Margraten as the final resting place for the men killed in battle. Margraten has just been liberated, and whilst the fighting continues elswhere, a group of African-American soldiers are given the task of digging their graves. One member of this group is 19-year-old Jeff Wiggings, a messenger from Alabama and First Sergeant of the 960th QMSC (Quartermaster Service Company). He is sent to help the 3136th QMSC which is already struggling with the enormous number of soldiers being brought for burial.
The military cemetery near Margraten and Cadier en Keer is marked by a 30-metre-high landmark shaped like a tower.
It is the only American cemetery in the Netherlands and covers an area of more than 26 hectares of what used to be arable land. Most of the 8,301 servicemen buried here died during the liberation of the south-east of the Netherlands and the Battle of the Rhineland and the advance to the Ruhr region.
The site was liberated on 13th September 1944 by soldiers from the 30th Infantry Division of the First American Army and was designated a cemetery and monument to the fallen on 10th November 1944. The site has been made available to the government of the United States of America for use in perpetuity.
Amerikaplein, Eijsden - Margraten - GPS code N 50 49.248, E 5 49.379