Two black soldiers who served in World War II were killed by a white commander for opposing segregation and speaking to white Red Cross workers at a camp in France, newly unearthed documents have revealed.
The soldiers killed – Allen Leftridge and Frank Glenn – were challenged by the sergeant for breaking norms, archived documents show, and then ruthlessly gunned down by another officer as punishment.
A third soldier – a white man who had just been released from a German prison camp – was also killed in the crossfire in the altercation. The two white soldiers involved in the killings that took place on the war-torn Western Front in 1945 were acquitted of their crime.
Despite the illegality of the act and multiple witnesses who saw the killings firsthand, the killer – an unnamed American soldier – was acquitted and one of the men’s widows was denied a survivor’s pension.
The duo’s story is now being told in part thanks to the victim’s widow, the late Sarah Leftridge, who shared the harrowing account with a black journalist who would eventually marry her.
The long-forgotten story of Allen Leftridge and his slain comrade is told thanks to Leftridge’s late widow, Sarah Leftridge, who provided a harrowing account of the incident. Army officials told her her husband’s death was “due to his own wrongdoing.”
The newly unsealed documents include letters offering her own account of the incident – in which army officials told her her husband’s death was “due to his own wrongdoing”.
Nearly a century later, the couple’s descendants are seeking justice – after she was denied her rightful military service for reasons that are unclear.
That decision came from a US judge who, in a court-martial convened after the 1945 incident, ruled that her husband’s death occurred after he disregarded his superiors.
The incident took place near the end of the long-running conflict at an Allied camp known as The Lucky Strike, according to witness accounts and since unsealed Army documents.
The camp was a busy tent city with approximately 58,000 American soldiers awaiting transport back to the United States after victory in Europe at the time.
However, the settlement was also highly segregated – and has been described as both a “seventh heaven” and a center of unbridled chaos due to brewing tensions between war-weary troops.
The incident took place towards the end of the long-running conflict at an Allied camp known as The Lucky Strike, a busy tent city with around 58,000 American soldiers at the time awaiting transport back to the United States after victory in Europe
The encounter in question occurred at about the height of these tensions two weeks after the end of the war in September 1945.
Documents and testimonies detail how Leftridge and Glenn – whose death, unlike his companion, was ruled on duty and whose widow was awarded compensation – entered a Red Cross tent where women served donuts and coffee to soldiers.
At one point, the soldiers went in to get something – flouting laws passed by the army that forbade black soldiers from associating with French women.
In the vast camp, black troops were usually tasked with guarding German prisoners, which spurred officials to set the rules, fearing the black men would engage in interactions with white Europeans.
Accounts vary as to what happened next – though the duo were reprimanded by an unnamed officer, who Alfred A. Duckett, Stacy Leftridge’s second husband, said had a romantic relationship with one of the women.
‘[The] White congressman ordered him not to stand there and talk to that woman, Allen turned his back on him,” Duckett said in an interview published in Studs Terkel’s oral history, The Good War, in 1984.
Duckett, who died in 1984, was a journalist whose reporting has served as the primary account of the encounter.
Duckett described how in an ensuing scuffle Leftridge was “shot in the back and killed” by an armed guard who was called in to quell the encounter. Glenn was also killed at some point during the previously veiled incident.
Accounts vary of the 1945 encounter, in which the duo were scolded by an unnamed officer, who Alfred A. Duckett (right), Stacy Leftridge’s second husband, said had a romantic relationship with one of the women. Duckett, a journalist, learned about the story after meeting Stacy and her daughter (pictured) in 1950. The couple would marry soon after
In an undated statement from the Library of Congress unearthed by the Washington Post, a witness said Solomon Johnson, Leftridge and the sergeant “got into a heated argument and suddenly got into brawls” before his and Glenn’s deaths.
After the fight ended, the witness reportedly said Leftridge “took a step” toward the guard, who then shot him.
According to the documents, Johnson told Army officials investigating the incident that the unnamed guard, who was white, “never gave the order ‘stop’ or gave a warning” to indicate he was about to fire on Leftridge , let alone Glenn.
While a court-martial was called and the two unnamed white men were tried, no legal action was taken in relation to the altercation — either to the sergeant, the guard, or their couple’s senior officers.
In a statement to the NAACP, the Army said Leftridge was killed because the soldier “did not heed” a challenge from a superior officer. The organization has since picked up calls from Leftridge’s late widow to correct her first husband’s service record.
The new documents shed new light on the decades-old dispute, revealing it almost a century laterracial injustices directed against black soldiers during World War II are finally being addressed.
The case had previously only been addressed by Duckett in the 1984 oral tradition, and Sarah’s efforts to obtain military benefits from the Army have still proved fruitless.
The duo’s history was detailed by the late Sarah Leftridge in the recently unsealed Library of Congress documents, which contain documents including this letter from Sarah to Army officials requesting rectification of her husband’s record
Thanks to reporting from her late husband, who became obsessed with the case after interviewing Sarah about the incident and eventually marrying her in 1950.
Leftridge’s daughter, Carolyn Holman, is now continuing her stepfather and mother’s efforts to rectify her late father’s legacy and continues to plead with Army officials to clear his name and compensate her family for back payments that should have gone to her mother .
Given the recent attention the case has received, it looks like that might be a possibility – with an army spokesman hinting that action could be taken on the case in the coming months.
Madison Bonzo told the Post in a statement that the service gives “a high priority to honoring the legacy of all our Soldiers and their families, especially when there may be mistakes or injustices.”
“The Army stands ready to assist the Leftridge family through the Army Board for Correction of Military Records with the Army Review Boards Agency should they decide to file a request for records correction,” the statement said.
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11638395/Documents-two-black-World-War-Two-soldiers-murdered-white-colleague.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Documents show how two black World War II soldiers were murdered by white colleagues