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The Militant, 4 May 1946

Lichfield G.I. Guard Imprisoned for
Brutality Ordered by His Officers

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 18, 4 May 1946, p. 7
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


The second Lichfield Army atrocity trial ended in London last week when an enlisted man, Sgt. James M. Jones, was found guilty of beating prisoners at the 10th Reinforcement Depot guardhouse and sentenced to six months' hard labor and a fine.

Jones admitted brutal treatment of U.S. Army prisoners, but defended his action on the ground that he was obeying orders given by officers at the guardhouse. “I was taught to take orders,” he said. “... In Striking prisoners ... I was only tarrying out the orders of my superior officers.”

Testimony by a junior officer at Lichfield, Lt. Branville Cubage, fully supported this contention. In fact, there was so much evidence along this line that the trial judge advocate was compelled to assert to the court:

“Invidious Situation”

“This is an invidious situation here—it grows and matures because the officers had given orders and condoned acts which the enlisted men believed was the policy of the commanding officer and which other officers wanted parried out.”

Nevertheless, the Army intends to court-martial seven more enlisted men who had been guards at Lichfield before proceeding to try the six Lichfield officers charged with giving the orders. This procedure has been defended as legally sound by Undersecretary of War Kenneth C. Royall, although it was denounced by the original prosecutor in the Lichfield case, Capt. Earl J. Carroll. Carroll withdrew from the “flagrantly mishandled” case at the beginning of the second trial because, among other reasons this procedure “may seriously preclude a successful prosecution of higher ranking officers.”

Evidence by Cubage at the second trial showed that what went on, at Lichfield was not at all unique. He had taken guards and prisoners with him to a number of DTC’s (Disciplinary Training Centers) and observed the treatment of American prisoners there.

Laugh at Misery

“When we returned from DTC 3 at Sudbury, England, I told our guards that the commandant there had told me his men used clubs for beating prisoners. I told the men that at Langford (DTC 2913) they had a dungeon far below ground, you couldn’t see the light and the officer in charge laughingly told me that occasionally someone fell down these stairs on his face.”

Cubage reported that the Lichfield commander, Col. James M. Kilian, had set down the policy that Lichfield “could be as tough as any DTC.”

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