Sunday, May 29, 2011
The Labyrinth at Chartres
All the glass from the cathedral was removed just before the Germans invaded France in 1939, and it was cleaned after the War and releaded before replacing. While the city suffered heavy damage by bombing in the course of World War II, the cathedral was spared by an American Army officer who challenged the order to destroy it.
Colonel Welborn Barton Griffith, Jr. questioned the strategy of destroying the cathedral and volunteered to go behind enemy lines to find out whether the German Army was occupying the cathedral and using it as an observation post. With a single enlisted soldier to assist, Col. Griffith proceeded to the cathedral and confirmed the Germans were not using it. After he returned from his reconnaissance, he reported that the cathedral was clear of enemy troops. The order to destroy the cathedral was withdrawn, and the Allies later liberated the area. Col Griffith was killed in action on August 16, 1944 in the town of Leves, near Chartres.