In the second day of the World War II German Counter Offensive (known as the Battle of the Bulge) elements of the 1st SS Panzer Division moving through Belgium captured and subsequently killed nearly 80 US prisoners of war. Victims of the "Malmedy Massacre" were left unattended under a shroud of new-fallen snow for weeks until mortuary affairs troops could arrive.
During the week of 13-18 January 1945 the 4th Platoon, 3060th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company set up a collection point nearby and carefully combed the killing fields for remains and personal effects.
Although many in the unit were former combat soldiers, and had received little mortuary training, seasoned NCOs led the way -- showing them how to use laundry markings and other items for identification, do fingerprinting, fill out the necessary forms, and so on.
In the end, despite the almost complete absence of dog tags, 100 percent of the victims recovered were positively identified, and buried with all due honor -- as befitted United States soldiers who paid the ultimate price in the name of freedom.
Compiled by Dr. Steven Anders, former Quartermaster School historian
Event: The Malmedy Massacre
Date: 17 December 1944
"I am not giving you orders to shoot prisoners of war, but you are all well-trained SS soldiers."
- SS Company Commander
Quoted in Charles B. Macdonald,
A Time for Trumpets (1985)