May 5, 1944: The black American soldier Leroy Henry has sex with a woman at Bath, England. She accuses him of aggravated rape, he is tried by a military court, convicted, and sentenced to death under American military discipline.
This case is remarkable for the reaction of the locals in this supposedly so racist country. The following information is extracted largely from the press cuttings below.
Private Leroy Henry had sex with a local housewife at Combe Down late at night. The woman claimed to have got out of bed to show him the way back to Bristol after he knocked on her downstairs window, then raped her at knifepoint. At his court martial on May 25, his defence was, basically, that she had flogged her mutton. She asked him for two pounds; he gave her one pound. So much for over-paid, over-sexed and over here. (A similar report to the first below appeared in the Bath and Wilts Chronicle and Herald, LATE EXTRA, Monday, May 29, 1944, page 4).
The woman’s husband testified for the prosecution. The unnamed Henry was said to have signed a confession but claimed it had been beaten out of him by the Military Police. Perish the thought.
“I just had one blind flash. It was as if somebody had kicked me from behind”.
Henry said they filled out a long paper which he didn’t read, and which he signed under duress.
As can be seen, what happened next was truly amazing, at the height of the bloodiest war in history, the people of Bristol and environs put together a thirty-three thousand petition in a remarkably short space of time asking Eisenhower to spare his life.
The Bath and Wilts Chronicle and Herald, LATE EXTRA for June 5, 1944 published a big advertisement on page 8 urging people to sign the petition as a matter of urgency.
Although there is little about this case in the public domain, the fact that Henry was soon back serving with his unit speaks volumes. Clearly the locals realised what was the score if the American military did not.
Check out what this dude has to say. (There are only four pages here; the fifth was blank).
My apologies for the above partial scan from the local press.
The above article appeared in the Western Press And Bristol Mirror, June 19, 1944, page 3.
The above article appeared in The Daily Mirror, June 22, 1944, page 4.
The above article appeared in the Bath Weekly Chronicle and Herald, June 24, 1944, page 1.
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