Plot E: The Cemetery For Disgraced Servicemen

If you look on the Veterans Administration's cemetery plot map of the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery and Memorial in France, you will find Plots A, B, C and D, which contain 6,012 American military men from World War I. You will not, however, find Plot E. Google Earth will just show an expanse of green. It’s as though the plot doesn’t exist, but it’s very much there, and it serves a necessary but unsavory purpose. Plot E is where American servicemen are buried who were executed by firing squad or hanging for capital crimes committed in Europe during or shortly after World War II. Plot E is located 100 yards from the main cemetery and contains the remains of 94 servicemen. Hedges hide it from view, no U.S. flag is permitted to fly over it, the graves lack headstones, and it’s not publicly accessible. The graves are designated by white index-card-sized stone markers with stark black numbers, in four rows, and all facing away from the recognized burial ground nearby. Nevertheless, it is maintained, with grass being cut and hedges trimmed, perhaps more for the aesthetic sensibilities of the superintendent than due to any niceties afforded the deceased. Plot E has been described by one cemetery employee as a “house of shame.”