Fighting for the United States, Executed in Britain by Simon Webb

Fighting for the United States, Executed in Britain by Simon Webb* – US Soldiers Court-Martialled in WWII has, as many of Webb’s books, a very unusual and not exactly well known subject. This makes the book fascinating and surprising, of course. One of the most intriguing aspects is that these soldiers were under US jurisdiction despite being based in UK, they were court-martialled in US courts… but they were executed by Brits, who were not impressed with American executions. Who would have imagined that the differences between the British and American approach would be so significant. There are many more things, like what it took to train as an executioner. These details are fascinating.

Fighting for the United States, Executed in Britain by Simon Webb

The Shepton Mallet Prison in Somerset was used by the US military for the soldiers who were killing or/and raping British civilians. Because of the treaties, US soldiers could be (and were) executed for rape while rape was not a capital crime for a century or so in the UK. In three years, American soldiers killed 53 people and raped 126.
The majority of the soldiers executed were black or Hispanic, but even here is a stark contrast in how people were referring to the accused, with Brits and Americans using different language. In one case, the British public was appalled by the conviction of a black man on slim evidence, which, again, is very different than what would have happened in US at that time.

I like that Webb pointed out what happened next and he mentions the case of a 17-year-old boy killed in a car accident, by an American soldier in 1970. He was driving on the wrong side of the road. He was fined $1 in US courts. Of course my readers would remember the tragic case of Harry Dunn, the 19-year-old killed in a car accident by the wife of a CIA operative. She was flown back to US and neither Trump nor Biden had the decency to extradite her to UK to face justice.

Fighting for the United States, Executed in Britain by Simon Webb

Details about the picture: –
My rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: yes
Published by: Pen and Sword
Year it was published: 2021
Format: Hardcover
Genre(s): History – 20th Century – WWII
Pages: 200

About the author: Simon Webb is the author of a number of non-fiction books, ranging from academic works on education to popular history. He works as a consultant on the subject of capital punishment to television companies and filmmakers and also writes for various magazines and newspapers; including the Times Educational Supplement, The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian.
Books by him: Forgotten Slave Trade; The Analogue Revolution; Post-War Childhood; 1919: Britain’s Year of Revolution; A History of Torture in Britain; British Concentration Camps; First World War Trials and Executions; Bombers, Rioters and Police Killers; Suffragette Fascists; The Suffragette Bombers.
Website & Social Media Links: Pen and Sword

*I was sent a copy of Fighting for the United States, Executed in Britain by Simon Webb for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.



6 thoughts on “Fighting for the United States, Executed in Britain by Simon Webb”

  • Goodness, I had no idea this was happening in WW2! Why am I not surprised it was predominantly black and Hispanic soldiers who were convicted? Still, at least it would seem the US took accusations seriously back then. Now they just fly people out of the country and then refuse to extradite them, as you point out, and refuse to participate in any international courts.

    • He talks about black and Hispanic soldiers and that more of them were sentenced to death, this was too similar to what was happening in US at that time. It’s a very interesting topic not talked about. I imagine there were many more problems with soldiers, American or not, with pub fights and so on.

  • This is certainly a topic about which I know very little. I’m sure it’s an interesting book.

    I do remember the Harry Dunn case and it really inflamed me at the time. I couldn’t live with myself if I were that woman. Diplomatic immunity is questionable at times.
    Kelly recently posted…Fourth of July, 2021My Profile

    • I agree. Diplomatic immunity has its good points, as it protects diplomats from being wrongly accused, but protecting family members when they killed a teenager in a car crash is crazy.

  • When Dave was in the military, he spent some time based at a US base in Norfolk and he often commented on the differences between the way the UK and US airmen were treated by their respective government departments. He was on secondment from a UK base, but was under the leadership and rules of the US base when he was there! Of course there are two sides to every story, as the US food was much better than our own servicemen were able to get, so he benefitted from getting some good meals whilst there!

    We live about 5 miles away from Shepton Mallet and the prison is quite a feature around these parts. If you are ever down this way, they now organise guided tours of the prison, which are really interesting. There was some talk about the whole site being redeveloped as luxury apartments, but all has gone quiet on that front now, so we shall just have to wait and see!

    Interesting book, I shall make a note of the details, thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Webb mentioned in the book about plans to make luxury apartments in the old prison. I would love a tour of the prison, of course.:)
      With the prison so close to where you live, I think you might enjoy the book as you know the area too. The topic is gruesome, with all the details about the cases and the people involved, but well that’s history.

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