Oise-Aisne American Cemetery Plot E – Where The Dishonorable Dead from WWII are Buried

By Stranger20824 CC BY-SA 3.0
By Stranger20824 CC BY-SA 3.0

The Oise-Aisne American Cemetery is a military cemetery in northern France where American soldiers killed in the area during World War I are buried. It includes a memorial to the Americans missing in action who fought in the same area. Plots A through D are devoted to the 6,012 soldiers buried there.

Separated from the main cemetery by a hedge, and accessible only through the cemetery’s superintendent’s office is Plot E. This plot holds the graves of 94 American soldiers who were dishonorably discharged before being executed for crimes they committed during or just after World War II.

Victims of these criminals include 26 American soldiers who were all murdered and 71 British, French, German, Italian, Polish, and Algerian civilians who were raped and/or murdered.

Plot E is a 100 x 50-foot clearing across the road from the main four plots and deliberately hidden by hedges and a thick forest.

The remains of these convicted criminals were re-interred in Plot E in 1949 when it was designated by the Graves Registration as a burial site for the “dishonorable dead.”

There is no official recognition of Plot E. It is not mentioned on the ABMC website. It is not on any pamphlets, guidebooks, or maps. Access is difficult, and visitors are not encouraged. The site, however, is maintained by cemetery employees who mow the lawn and trim the hedges.

Plot E was described by one employee as “a house of shame” and “a perfect anti-memorial.” While Plots A through D features perfectly arranged standing headstones and marble monuments, Plot E contains only 96 flat stone markers arranged in four rows and one small granite cross. The grave markers are only the size of index cards and contain only the grave number. It is impossible to identify individual graves by standing in the cemetery.

There were a total of 98 servicemen executed by the US Army after General Courts Martial (GCM) for murder, rape, or both in the European Theater of Operations in WWII. The criminals were originally buried near where they were executed: Germany, Italy, England, France, Belgium, and Algeria.

The US flag is not permitted to fly over Plot E, and the numbered graves have their backs to the main cemetery across the road.

Only one individual was ever buried in Plot E that was not convicted of rape or murder. Eddie Slovik was executed for desertion on January 31, 1945. President Ronald Reagan permitted his remains to be exhumed and brought to the US for burial in 1987.

Joris Nieuwint

Joris Nieuwint is a battlefield guide for the Operation Market Garden area. His primary focus is on the Allied operations from September 17th, 1944 onwards. Having lived in the Market Garden area for 25 years, he has been studying the events for nearly as long. He has a deep understanding of the history and a passion for sharing the stories of the men who are no longer with us.

@joris1944 facebook.com/joris.nieuwint