Oise-Aisne American Cemetery Plot E
The Oise-Aisne American Cemetery Plot E is the fifth plot at the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery and Memorial, an American military cemetery in northern France that comprises four main burial plots (i.e., A, B, C and D) containing the remains of 6,012 service personnel, all of whom died during World War I.
Plot E is approximately 100 metres away from the main cemetery and is a separate, hidden section which currently contains the remains of 96 American military prisoners, all of whom were executed by hanging or firing squad under military authority for crimes committed during or shortly after World War II. Their victims were 26 fellow American soldiers (all murdered) and 71 British, French, German, Italian, Polish and Algerian civilians (both male and female) who were raped or murdered.
In total, the US Army executed 98 servicemen following general courts martial for murder and/or rape in the European Theatre of Operations during the Second World War. The remains of these servicemen were originally buried near the site of their executions, which took place in countries as far apart as England, France, Belgium, Germany, Italy and Algeria. In 1949, the remains of these men were re-interred in Plot E, a private section specifically built to hold what the Graves Registration referred to as "the dishonored dead"; per standard practice, all had been dishonorably discharged from the US Army the day before their executions.
Plot E is detached from the main four cemetery plots for the honored dead of World War I. It is located across the road and deliberately hidden from view, inside a 100×50 feet oval-shaped clearing surrounded by hedges and hidden in thick forest. Officially, Plot E does not exist: it is not mentioned on the ABMC website or in any guide pamphlets or maps. The plot is accessible only through the back door of the superintendent's office. Access is difficult and visitors are not encouraged, though the section is maintained by cemetery caretakers who periodically mow the lawn area and trim the hedges. One cemetery employee described Plot E as a "house of shame" and a "perfect anti-memorial".
Unlike the marble monuments and inscribed standing headstones of the regular plots, Plot E contains nothing but 96 flat stone markers (arranged in four rows) and a single small granite cross. The white grave markers are the size of index cards and have nothing on them except sequential numbers engraved in black. The intention was that individual graves would be impossible to identify.
The only individual buried in Plot E who had not been convicted of rape or murder was Eddie Slovik (formerly Row 3, Grave 64), who was executed for desertion on 31 January 1945. His wife, Antoinette Slovik, petitioned the Army for her husband's remains and his pension until her death in 1979. Slovik's case was taken up in 1981 by a former Macomb County Michigan commissioner, Bernard V. Calka, a Polish-American World War II veteran, who continued to press the Army for the return of Slovik's remains. In 1987, he persuaded President Ronald Reagan to grant the petition request. In response, Calka raised $5,000 to pay for the exhumation and reinterment at Detroit's Woodmere Cemetery, where Slovik was reburied next to his wife.
Burials at Plot E
Furthermore, some victims were children: e.g. 15-year-old Elizabeth Green, who was raped and strangled by Corporal Ernest Lee Clarke (grave 68) and Private Augustine M. Guerra (grave 44) at Ashford on 22 August 1944, and 7-year-old Patricia Wylie, who was raped and strangled by Private William Harrison (grave 62) in Northern Ireland on 25 September 1944.
Other rape and murder victims were adults, e.g., 75-year-old Agnes Cope who was raped by Private Aniceto Martinez (grave 39) on 6 August 1944, or Joyce Brown, who was raped by Corporal Robert L. Pearson (grave 22) and Private Parson [aka Cubia] Jones (grave 15) on 3 December 1944 while pregnant.
Another case involved Private Lee A. Davis (grave 61), who raped Muriel Fawden after fatally shooting her friend, 19-year-old Cynthia June Lay near Savernake Hospital, Marlborough on 28 September 1943. Private Madison Thomas (grave 76) was convicted by a court martial in Plymouth of raping Beatrice Maud Reynolds in a field at Albaston (near Gunnislake, Cornwall) on 26 July 1944, and was hanged at HMP Shepton Mallet on 12 October 1944.
James E. Hendricks (grave 13) was hanged near Plumaudan on 24 November 1944 for the murder of Victor Bignon and the attempted rape of his wife Noémie. The cases of Louis Till (grave 73) and the murder of Sir Eric Teichman by George E. Smith (grave 52) on 3 December 1944 are other examples.
Similarly, on 10 February 1945, Privates Yancy Waiters (grave 31) and Robert L. Skinner (grave 64) were hanged simultaneously in the village of Hameau au Pigeon in Quettetot on the Cherbourg peninsula after being convicted of murder and rape. Among spectators at their execution were twenty French witnesses, including nineteen-year-old Marie Osouf, the girl who was raped, and the family of Auguste Lebarillier (Marie's boyfriend), who was murdered.
Private Blake W. Mariano (grave 12), a 29-year-old gunner with the 191st Tank Battalion, was hanged at Loire Disciplinary Training Center in Le Mans, France on 10 October 1945 for an incident which took place in Lauf, Germany on 15 April 1945; he raped two women aged 21 and 54, and shot dead their 41-year-old companion.
The following table provides names, serial numbers, locations, and associated grave numbers of deceased interred in Plot E of the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery. This list only became available in 2009, following a Freedom of Information Act request. Prior to that, it was impossible to determine who was buried in a particular grave, because the graves are only marked with numbers.
|Name of Person||Serial Number||Row||Grave Number|
|Anderson, Roy W.||35407199||2||29|
|Baldwin, Walter J.||34020111||2||43|
|Bennerman Jr, Sidney||34174757||3||57|
|Burns, Lee A.||38520648||4||74|
|Clark, Ernest L.||33212946||3||68|
|Clay Jr, Matthew||38490561||1||3|
|Cooper, John D.||34562464||4||81|
|Crews, Otis B.||14057830||2||30|
|Davis, Arthur E.||36788637||4||82|
|Davis, Lee A.||18023362||3||61|
|Davis, William E.||33541888||1||19|
|Donnelly, Robert L.||13131982||4||95|
|Downes, William C.||33519814||1||16|
|Ervin Jr, Charlie||34042926||3||54|
|Farrell, Arthur J.||32559163||1||21|
|Grant, General L.||34557976||3||59|
|Green Jr, George||38476751||2||36|
|Guerra, Augustine M.||38458023||2||44|
|Harris Jr, Wiley||6924547||4||92|
|Harrison Jr, William||15089828||3||62|
|Hendricks, James E.||33453189||1||13|
|Hopper, Benjamin F.||32720571||1||7|
|Jefferies, Charles H.||33181343||4||78|
|Jones, Cubia (a.k.a. Parson)||34563790||1||15|
|Jones, James L.||34221343||4||84|
|Jones, John T.||38315973||2||48|
|Jordan, Charlie H.||14066430||2||40|
|Kendrick, James E.||14026995||1||5|
|Kluxdal, Paul M.||36395076||2||35|
|Leatherberry, J. C.||34472451||4||86|
|Lucas, William N.||36639075||4||96|
|Mack, John H.||34042053||1||4|
|Mahoney, Joseph J.||12008332||1||11|
|Mariano, Blake W.||38011593||1||12|
|Maxey, Curtis L.||34554198||3||71|
|McCarter, William J.||34675988||4||91|
|McGhee Sr, Shelton||34529025||1||6|
|McMurray, Fred A.||38184335||1||2|
|Nelson, Henry W.||35726029||1||1|
|Newman, Oscar N.||35226382||1||80|
|Norris, Clete O.||37082314||4||79|
|Pearson, Robert L.||38326741||1||22|
|Pennyfeather, William D.||32801627||3||66|
|Philpot, Henry C.||39080069||4||89|
|Pittman, Willie A.||34400976||3||50|
|Robinson, Charles M.||38164425||3||70|
|Rollins, Alvin R.||34716953||3||51|
|Sanders, James B.||34124233||3||58|
|Schmiedel, Werner E. (a.k.a. Robert Lane)||7041115||3||53|
|Scott, Richard B.||38040012||2||45|
|Skinner, Robert L.||35802328||3||64|
|Smith, Charles H.||36337437||4||77|
|Smith Jr, George E.||33288266||3||52|
|Smith, John C.||33214953||3||67|
|Spears, Charles E.||32337619||1||18|
|Spencer, Elwood, J.||33739343||2||33|
|Taylor, John W.||37485128||1||24|
|Twiggs, James W.||38265086||4||88|
|Waters, John H.||32337934||2||46|
|Watson Jr, Frank||34793522||3||55|
|Williams, Olin W.||34649494||1||20|
|Wilson, J. P.||32484756||1||9|
|Wimberly, Willie J.||36392154||2||34|
Note: additional background information (e.g. place of enlistment and year of birth etc.) regarding the condemned men can be found by entering the relevant service number into Online World War II Indexes & Records.
- Private Eddie Slovik, 36896415, was buried in Row 3 Grave 65 until his remains were returned to the United States in 1987.
- Private Alex F. Miranda, 39297382, was buried in Row 2 Grave 27 until his remains were returned to the United States in 1990.
- Capital punishment by the United States military
- Shepton Mallet (HM Prison) – provides details of the 18 American servicemen executed there who were later moved to Plot E
- American Battle Monuments Commission: Oise-Aisne American Cemetery Official Website As of June 22, 2009
- Venditta, David. "Lehigh County soldier was hanged for murder in World War II". Retrieved 1 March 2017.
- "Bing Maps - Driving Directions, Traffic and Road Conditions". Binged.it. 2015-03-04. Retrieved 2015-04-24.
- Kaplan, Alice. The Interpreter. Free Press: New York, 2005. 172–3.
- Huie, William Bradford.The Execution of Private Slovik. Westholme: Yardley, 1954. 4–7.
- "Body of executed soldier interred next to his wife". Associated Press. July 12, 1987. Retrieved April 21, 2011.
- Jewish Virtual Library
- The Telegraph
- "Shepton Mallet prison history". Capitalpunishmentuk.org. Retrieved 2015-04-24.
- Joe Beine. "Online World War II Indexes and Records - WWII". Militaryindexes.com. Retrieved 2015-04-24.
- Huie, William Bradford. The Execution of Private Slovik. Westholme Publishing, 2004. ISBN 1-59416-003-1
- Somerset Live
- Midweek Herald