Dear YANK:

Recent public attacks on the Army courts-martial system have brought into focus a situation which has been in need of corrective action for some time. The appointment of a civilian board of review constitutes a step in the proper direction, but it only catches errors after commission. A possible amendment, much closer to the source and one which would serve to eliminate rather than note discrepancies, has apparently been overlooked, to wit: the discontinuance of the practice of indiscriminately selecting officers to serve as members of the court who lack proper dignity, judicial temperament, training, experience, adaptable backgrounds and an understanding of the fundamentals of military law.

Under the provisions of Article of War 19, courts-martial cases are required to be determined “according to the evidence”—that is, solely on the basis of matters introduced before the court at the trial, and on the basis of the facts of which the court may, under the provisions of the Manual for Courts-Martial, take judicial notice.

Yet, chosen from the organization to which an accused is assigned, through pre-trial discussion, from personal knowledge of the offense and the accused, their believe as to the existence of local regulations, which, in fact, may not be in force, these officers usually, unintentionally but humanly, form a definite opinion as to the accused’s innocence or guilt.

Often they come to court without having read the Manual for Courts-Martial in an endeavor to correct their deficiencies and to see that justice is properly administered, thereby rendering themselves incompetent to serve as members of a courts-martial board. It is conceivable that they do not have time to ferret out the principles of military justice; but, whatever the reason, it cannot justify the fact that as a result of their misconceptions and ignorance of the rules they materially injure the rights of an accused by basing decisions on personal knowledge, what may be no more than rumor, or someone else’s opinion.

This present method, which so apparently precludes impartiality, could be effectually remedied and the rights of an accused substantially protected, if a system corresponding to the following general outline could be established:

1)      The designation of the Judge Advocate General’s Department as a separate arm or service.

2)      The founding of a School of Military Justice to which qualified candidates could be detailed as has been done with other branches of OCS, said school to be operated under the supervision of the aforementioned arm or service.

3)      The inclusion in each T/O of at least one commissioned graduate of the School of Military Justice.

4)      The establishment of a Judicial Administrative School for enlisted men which would teach the fundamentals of military law and the proper procedure for the preparation of legal records.

5)      The inclusion of each T/O of a minimum of one graduate of the Judicial Administrative School whose duty would be to assist the Military Justice Officer.

—(Name Withheld)


courts-martial military police 9th army germany

Military Policemen of the 9th Army read about the German surrender.

Dear YANK:

Yesterday we received two simultaneous announcements of courts-martial proceedings and their findings. One case involved an officer who was caught red-handed trying to steal Quartermaster rations. When apprehended by the guard, he offered him a bribe (whisky and a wrist watch). The officer was found guilty on several counts and given a $100 fine and reprimanded by the commanding general.

The other case involved a private who misconducted himself while drunk, offering no violence, but simply acting boisterous. This private received a six-month sentence at hard labor, in addition to other penalties.

I, as well as most of us, donned the uniform of our country to fight for various reasons. Is it small wonder then that we’ve come to hate the very instrument that was supposed to have established the four freedoms all over the earth?

Things of that nature will never be erased from our memories and they serve to make us lose faith in the great ideals that we have just fought for.

—(Name Withheld)


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From Here to Eternity

WWII Classic War Movie Mega Collection (The Guns of Navarone / From Here to Eternity / The Bridge on the River Kwai / Das Boot / Anzio / Caine Mutiny)

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