The Secret ‘Plot E’ of Oise-Aisne American Cemetery

Nov 6, 2015 2 comments

The Oise-Aisne American Cemetery and Memorial, in Picardy in northern France, contains the graves of just over 6,000 American soldiers who died while fighting in this vicinity during World War I. Their graves are distributed across four plots designated Plot A through D. But there is also a fifth plot — Plot E —that’s located outside the walls of the main cemetery, across the road. Plot E is secluded, surrounded by hedges and hidden behind a thick forest. Buried here are soldiers who served in World War II. But these are not war heroes. Instead, the shunned Plot E contains the graves of those who were “dishonorably discharged” from service and executed under military authority for crimes committed during or shortly after the World War. These were rapists and murderers.


Photo credit: Stranger20824/Wikimedia

Plot E is deliberately hidden from view, and there is no official entryway for the public. The only way in is through the rear door of the superintendent's office. Visitors are not encouraged and its existence is not noted on any of the cemetery’s promotional literature, guide pamphlets, or on its website. Plot E is the perfect anti-memorial, a “house of shame”, as put by one cemetery employee.

Unlike the marble monuments and inscribed standing headstones of the regular plots, the graves on Plot E are marked by flat stone markers about the size of standard index cards, carrying only a sequential number engraved in black. There are no names or dates. The intention was that individual graves would be impossible to identify, but the U.S. Government later released a document stating who was located where in the cemetery. There is a small, solitary, white cross standing at the head of the space. No US flag is permitted to fly over the section, and the numbered graves literally lie with their backs turned to the main cemetery on the other side of the road.

Plot E currently contains the remains of 94 American soldiers, all of whom were either rapists or murderers or both. All had been dishonorably discharged from the US Army just prior to their executions. Only one individual buried in Plot E had not been convicted of a violent crime. He was Eddie Slovik, who carries the infamous distinction of being the only soldier executed for desertion during the years of World War II. In 1987 President Ronald Reagan gave permission for Slovik's remains to be exhumed and returned to the United States for reburial.


The grave of Pvt Louis Till (#75) in Plot E of Oise-Aisne American Cemetery. Photo credit:


The main cemetery. Photo credit: Victor Grigas/Wikimedia

Sources: Wikipedia / Infobarrel


  1. What a sad story!
    The Wikipedia article reveals that Louis Till (actually #73) was the father of Emmett Till ( who was born one day after me).
    The remains were collected from across Europe and efforts to learn about its existence and its interrees was strongly resisted.

  2. Louis Till was the father of Emmett Till, of American Civil Rights history martyrdom. Ezra Pound wrote about Louis Till in a poem, because Pound and Till were held in the same prison awaiting trial: Till for murder and rape, Pound for anti-American broadcasts for Italian radio. Before the war, Louis Till got in trouble with his wife and had a restraining order against him.

    The folks who maintain the cemetery call Plot E the "house of shame" or the "anti-memorial."

    Interestingly, the British Commonwealth War Graves Commission does not differentiate between those executed for criminal offenses and those who die in battle. One tombstone of a British deserter from the Great War, for example, reads "Shot at Dawn." Which he certainly was.


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