Executed Today, Watson and Wimberly

My latest Executed Today post: two American soldier-rapists named Joseph Watson and Willie Wimberly, who raped a French civilian at gunpoint and shot both her and her father during World War II.

I hope the poor woman was able to recover from her ordeal, psychologically as well as physically. What an awful thing for our American soldiers to do on territory they were supposed to be liberating. Watson and Wimberly richly deserved their fate.

Another ET entry

This is actually from several days ago, but I forgot to post it earlier. The unlucky man here is Private Benjamin Hopper, an American serviceman who was executed for murder in France in 1945.

I spend quite a bit of time reading history books and true-crime books on the lookout for executions to write about for Executed Today. I don’t write about every execution I encounter, though; far from it. A case has to be interesting, or at least have some detail about it that catches my eye, for me to make the effort to do an entry for it.

The Hopper case certainly isn’t interesting at all: a perfectly ordinary, mundane drunken murder. But there was a detail about it that got my attention: the pathetic letter Hopper wrote to General Eisenhower, with all the misspellings. This guy had the mental capacity of a child and should never have been in the army in the first place. Though I suppose by 1945 they were really scraping the bottom of the barrel.

Oradour-Sur-Glane

An ET entry by me commemorating the horrific massacre of an entire French village less than a week after D-Day in World War II. A Nazi SS unit commanded by one Adolf Diekmann killed 642 people in reprisal for something the French Resistance did. The Germans hadn’t even meant to attack Oradour-Sur-Glane; their intended target was a nearby settlement with a similar name. Oradour-Sur-Vayres. In a way I suppose it’s a good thing because the other town was larger and there would have been even more deaths. Sucks for Oradour-Sur-Glane though.

Diekmann’s CO professed to be horrified and requested a court-martial, saying, “I cannot allow the regiment to be charged with something like this.” But the slaughter Oradour-Sur-Glane was not really any worse than other atrocities that SS unit and others had committed in the war. (Lidice, anyone?) In my opinion, the commanding officer had seen the writing the on the wall and realized the Nazis were going to be be held to account for their actions, and he was trying to protect his own self. It would have been interesting to see how that court-martial turned out; as it was, Diekmann got killed on the front a few days later, before the Wehrmacht could do anything to him.

Jason uses the word “hecatomb” to describe the tragedy, in place of my much more mundane term “event.” I had to look up “hecatomb” and the definition is “A great sacrifice; an ancient Greek or Roman sacrifice of 100 oxen.” In this case I guess it just means a mass slaughter. I enjoy it when I increase my vocabulary.

Anyway, check it out. That article took a long time for me to write, and these people should be remembered.

Bodies found at home of missing French family

A French family of six disappeared from Nantes, France early this month: Xavier Dupont de Ligonnes, a business manager, age 50, his wife Agnes, a school assistant, age 49, their 16-year-old daughter, Anne, and their three sons, Tomas, Arthur and Benoit, ages 21, 18 and 13 respectively.

They appeared to be an ordinary middle-class Catholic family. Yet something strange was going on: right before his disappearance, Xavier told some people that he was a secret agent and had to go into witness protection. The family had reportedly made arrangements to move to Australia, or at least said they had, which is why it took nearly two weeks before anyone realized they were in fact missing. They took their kids out of their private school and settled the bill.

Police have found three bodies on their property, and in one case a leg severed and placed apart from the rest of the corpse. (The first article I linked to just mentions a leg, but they have since turned up more. The next article contains photos of the family.) This article (which is in French; I translated it with Google), says they think the bodies are those of Agnes, Arthur and Tomas, and the apparent cause of death was gunshot wounds, though they’re still investigating. Presumably the cops are also searching for three more bodies. I don’t have much hope that anyone in that family remains alive.

Of course I don’t know a whole lot, but on the face of it, it sounds like a possible family annihilation on the part of the father, aka John List or Robert Fisher.

This is a very tragic and horrific situation. I feel sorry for the extended family.