- Kate Werran
- ARRSE Rating
- 4 Mushroom Heads
A 'shoot out' between coloured and white American GI's on September 14th 1943 had grabbed the attention of the national news when it was revealed that 14 soldiers were to be court martialled for what the tabloid press of the time called a 'wild west' mutiny.
All 14 of the accused were coloured GI's from the 581st Ordnance Ammunition Company stationed in Pennygillan camp, Launceston.
The court martial was held at Paignton Police station in Devon as it was the only place big enough to house the proceedings. There was a great deal of media coverage of the event and it revealed an uncomfortable truth that 'Jim Crow' was alive and well here in England although in general the English disliked the idea of racial segregation to the extent that coloured GI's were better liked than white GI's as they were better behaved, more respectful and not rude or brash.
Even Winston Churchill expressed 'grave anxiety' at the state of Anglo-American relations at the time.
The court martial gave the burgeoning civil rights movement in the USA fuel for its campaign against the repressive 'Jim Crow' laws.
The research that has gone into this story is very impressive and the author has revealed the not so nice side of the US forces stationed here during WW2. It also gives an insight into the how the English reacted to the US forces when they came over.