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The Plot of Shame (Hardback)

US Military Executions in Europe During WWII

Military > Frontline Books > Frontline: WWII P&S History > Social History P&S History > True Crime WWII

By Paul Johnson
Frontline Books
Pages: 224
Illustrations: Integrated black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781399011778
Published: 3rd February 2023

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The Oise-Aisne American Cemetery is the last resting place of 6,012 American soldiers who died fighting in a small portion of Northern France during the First World War. The impressive cemetery is divided into four plots marked A to D.

However, few visitors are aware that across the road, behind the immaculate façade of the superintendent’s office, unmarked and completely surrounded by impassable shrubbery, is Plot E, a semi-secret fifth plot that contains the bodies of ninety-six American soldiers. These were men who were executed for crimes committed in the European Theatre of Operations during and just after the Second World War.

Originally, the men whose death sentences were carried out were buried near the sites of their executions in locations as far afield as England, France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, and Algeria. A number of the men were executed in the grounds of Shepton Mallet prison in Somerset – the majority of whom were hanged in the execution block, with two being shot by a firing squad in the prison yard. The executioner at most of the hangings was Thomas William Pierrepoint, assisted mainly by his more-famous nephew Albert Pierrepoint.

Then, in 1949, under a veil of secrecy, the ‘plot of shame’, as it has become known, was established in France. The site does not exist on maps of the cemetery and it is not mentioned on the American Battle Monuments Commission’s website. Visits to Plot E are not encouraged. Indeed, public access is difficult because the area is concealed, surrounded by bushes, and is closed to visitors.

No US flag is permitted to fly over the plot and the graves themselves have no names, just small, simple stones the size of index cards that are differentiated only by reference numbers. Even underground the dishonoured are set apart, with each body being positioned with its back to the main cemetery.

In The Plot of Shame, the historian Paul Johnson uncovers the history of Plot E and the terrible stories of wartime crime linked to it.

"New and noteworthy".

WWII History

Reveals the whole tragic history of Plot E, each story a tragedy within the greater history of
World War II.

ARGrunners.com

4 out of 5

As featured on Army Rumour Service

Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)

Certainly a great book for those true crime fans.

Read the Full Review Here

The History Fella

As featured in

The Bookseller, Jan 23

As featured in

The Bookseller, Jan 23

Very informative! It's an interesting compilation. I wasn't sure exactly what to expect in this book & it was different from my expectations...

This book tells about the US Servicemen that were convicted & executed for crimes of murder & rape during World War II.

You can tell the author did a lot of research. He gives the background history of the victims & assailants, their ages, where they're buried & the story of what happened.

NetGalley, Martha Armbruster

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

With a great eye to detail and a flowing narrative The Plot Of Shame by Paul Johnson explains not only why but how we had American soldiers killed on foreign soil not by “the enemy“ but fellow allies. So many honorable men went to fight in world war two that we had to eventually start skirting the rules and letting those of questionable integrity in our military. Even Britain’s most famous hangman and his son got in on meeting out judicial sentences. It seems like everything from rape of the native people to the killing a fellow military there wasn’t any egregious crime that wasn’t committed. We didn’t just take our criminal mindset with us, we also took our racism as well. Most of those tried and convicted of serious crimes were non-white soldiers. I think the author did a great job telling the stories and giving voice to victims most had never heard of before I know I hadn’t. This is definitely an unheard chapter in our history that I am glad Mr. Johnson saw fit to tell and a book I highly recommend.

NetGalley, Janalyn Prude

About Paul Johnson

PAUL JOHNSON is a recognised military & aviation researcher, historian and author, who has published a number of books covering various aspects of both the First and Second World Wars. An occasional battlefield guide, he has worked as an historical consultant and contributor for both television, radio and projects of national remembrance.

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