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U.S. soldier Hung for Murder 1943.

Discussion in 'Information Requests' started by Owen, Jan 21, 2010.

  1. Owen

    Owen O

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    I was wondering if anyone had anymore info on this case?
    Anyone have photos of the men involved, know where they are buried, newspaper articles etc etc ?

    Private Harold Smith was serving in Headquarters Company , First Tank Destroyer Group at Chiseldon Camp , Wiltshire [just south of Swindon].
    New Years Day 1943 he recieved his pay and went AWOL.
    He went off to London & met up with Private Harry English of the 984th Tank Destroyer Battalion.
    After a week Smith's money ran out so he returned to his unit at Chiseldon to find his unit had moved on and in it's place was 116th Infantry Regiment.
    He hung around the camp not knowing what to do so returned to his old billet where he found a .45 pistol lying on a bed.
    He checked the magizine was full and left .
    He was stopped by Pvt Harry Jenkins of 116th Inf Regt , Smith thought the guard was going for his own weapon so Smith shot him from a range of 4 feet. Jenkins span around and Smith fired twice more into Jenkins back.
    The shooting alerted other soldiers who rushed to the scene , Smith fired on them and ran off.
    He caught the local bus to Marlborough where he got on a train to London where he was arrested the next day.
    Pvt Jenkins was taken to the Victoria Hospital [where I was born, years later] in Swindon where he died. He had two serious stomach wounds and a less serious leg wound.
    Smith was tried by US Court Martial in Bristol on 12th March 1943 and sentenced to death.
    He was hung in Shepton Mallet Military Prison on June 25th , 1943.
    He is listed here.
    Capital punishment by the United States military - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    This says he was from West Georgia.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shepton_Mallet_(HM_Prison)#American_military_executions

    As I say, if anyone can add to the story, I'd like to know where they were buried & has anyone any photos of them .
    Also on a lighter note was Harry a common name as all 3 GIs mentioned in this story were called Harry.
    ;)
     
  2. sniper1946

    sniper1946 Expert

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    Pte. Harold Smith had gone AWOL (absent without leave) in London in January 1943 and with another young soldier was staying in a hotel enjoying the town until their financial recourses dried up. He then returned to Chisledon Camp near Swindon to find his own unit had been posted elsewhere. He found a loaded pistol and then got into an altercation with Pte. Harry Jenkins whom he shot dead. He also fired at another soldier before escaping back to London, where he was arrested by a British policeman. He was handed over to American authorities and was court-martialled at Bristol on the 12th of March 1943. He made a full statement admitting his guilt and was duly hanged on the 25th of June, 1943 by Tom Pierrepoint.
     
  3. sniper1946

    sniper1946 Expert

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    in unmarked graves in brookwood cemetary in surrey,which they were later exhumed and removed,and to where?
     
  4. sniper1946

    sniper1946 Expert

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    shepton mallet prison,might interest you..

    sheptonm
     
  5. Owen

    Owen O

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    That info in post #2 was from here wasn't it ?
    sheptonm

    Rather than concentrate on the murderer I wondered if anyone knew any more about the victim , Pvt Jenkins?
     
  6. sniper1946

    sniper1946 Expert

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    re-unmarked graves post...do you mean?
     
  7. Tony H

    Tony H Member

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    On the same subject - where the victim was a "Harry" and the sentance was carried out at Shepton Mallet although the crime occurred in East Anglia on December 9th 1943. . . .

    A taxi was discovered on December 9th abandoned a mile or so from the construction site that later became USAAF Birch (Stn 148) in rural Essex. In the back was a jacket, and papers were strewn around the blood stained seat. The vehicle was empty but parked on the right hand side of the road suggesting a possible link with US forces in the area

    The body of the Taxi Driver - Harry Hailstone was found the next day two miles down the road. A raincoat previously stolen from a Canadian officer was found - but the thief had left behind a Gas Mask, which was traced to a soldier of E Coy 356th Engineer Regt (who were building the airfield at Birch)

    This soldier stated he had given it to a coloured Pvt George Fowler who along with a Pvt J.C.Leatherberry another coloured soldier of E Coy 356th Engineer Regt had returned from a day pass to London. Leatherberry suggested they hire a Taxi at Colchester and rob the driver on the way back to base

    Both Fowler and Leatherberry were Court Martialled at Ispwich Town Hall (Suffolk) on Jan 19th 1944. Found Guilty Leatherberry was hung at the US Disciplinary Training Centre No 2912 at . . . . Shepton Mallet, Somerset on March 16th 1944

    Two weeks later the 410th Bomb Group Ninth Army Air Force arrived at Birch

    No details available for what happened to Pvt Fowler

    Info taken from Airfields of the Ninth by After the Battle (where pictures of the incident location, the taxi and Leatherberry can be found!)

    Rgds

    Tony

    PS Although not WWII related, I am also aware of yet another coloured US Serviceman who went on a shooting spree at RAF Manston, Kent in the 1950's He was eventually shot dead on a nearby beach . . . .
     

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