American Accused of Killing 150 German Prisoners of War

Conflict: World War I

Telegram regarding American soldier accused of killing 150 German POWs

On August 18, 1918, the commanding general of the 42nd Division wrote a telegram demanding an investigation into accusations that one of his soldiers, enraged by losses suffered in a battle at Rheims killed 150 German prisoners.  The accusations had been published in German papers and the Associated Press had picked it up.

After concluding his investigation, the division inspector wrote, “The statements of all the officers at present with the troops, who were with them in the Champagne battle 15 July 18 following were taken,” and that, “All the officers state that no German prisoners were killed by American troops nor were any mistreated…” In fact, “they were treated well.” Wounded prisoners were cared for, and they were “given food, drink, and cigarettes.”

The facts, as determined by the inspector general

The inspector general concluded “That all prisoners taken by troops of the 42nd Division were turned over immediately to the French military authorities…”

This report is part of the American Records of the WWI Supreme War Council, a collection of historical files concerning conduct of the war.