Court Martial Document Information

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This image, taken by Sgt. Harold J. Beaulieu, shows the 101 Black men from the 477th Bombardment Group arrested in the 'mutiny' at Freeman Field' in 1945. Here they are about to board aboard six Douglas C-47 Skytrains to Godman Field, Kentucky. Beaulieu took the only photograph to survive the Mutiny at Freeman Field. Other photographers reportedly had their cameras confiscated, broken, or film destroyed. Beaulieu captured the scene of the arrest with a camera hidden in a shoebox and a shutter release cord. The photo appeared in the Pittsburgh Courier. The incident was a catalyst for the desegregation of the US armed forces.

The official documents when viewed in chronological order illustrate and highlight the administrative process that 2nd Lt. Marsden Thompson went through as he and other Negro Army Air Force stood up to unauthorized and clandestine Jim Crow practices at Freeman Field, Indiana during World War II, which would later be called The Freeman Field Mutiny.

  1. 9 April 1945, BASE REGULATION 85-2. Assignment of Housing, Messing, and Recreational Facilities. The infamous Base Regulation 85-2 in which Colonel Selway and General Hunter conspired in order to legitimize their segregated policies. General Hunter’s unwillingness to apply this regulation equally to all bases under his command make it clear as to his true desire to segregate by race rather than by function. AAF leadership is clearly implicated in condoning this segregation practice through Inspector General findings and correspondence to the Secretary of War supporting the “functional” separation at Freeman Field while not insisting on the same separation elsewhere.
  2. 9 April 1945, Charge Sheet 2nd Lieutenant Marsden A. Thompson and 2nd Lieutenant Shirley R. Clinton. Following the incidents on April 5th and 6th 1945 and subsequent Arrest in Quarters on 5 April 1945, 2nd Lt’s Marsden Thompson and Shirley Clinton were formally charged with 1. Willfully disobeying a lawful command from 1st Joseph D. Rogers, 2. Offering violence against their superior officer 1st Lt. Joseph D. Rogers., Willfully disobeying a command from his superior officer Major Andrew M. White, and 4. Violation of the 68th Article of War.
  3. 9 April 1945 – Charge Sheet Shirley R. Clinton
  4. 12 April 1945 – Transfer Order of Arrested Officers from Freeman Field to Godman Field. Contains the name of 101 Negro officers being held in arrest in quarters at Freeman Field Ind and placed in transit to Godman Field Ky where they are to remain in arrest in quarters.
  5. 12 April 1945 – Transfer Order of Arrested Officers from Freeman Field to Godman Field Continued
  6. 13 April 1945, Arrest Order in Transit from Freeman Field, Ind to Godman Field Ky and acknowledgement of Arrest in quarters upon arrival at Godman Field, Ky.
  7. 17 April 1945, Permission to Procure Legal Counsel. 2nd Marsden A. Thompson formal request to pursue legal counsel outside of the racially segregated military.
  8. 17 April 1945, Letter to from 2nd Marsden A. Thompson to William H. Hastie, Dean, Howard University Law School, Washington D. C. requesting his services as Civilian Defense Counsel.
  9. 19 May 1945, Request Clarification of Arrest by 2nd Marsden Thompson.
  10. 14 June 1945, MEMORANDUM War Department. Command of Negro Troops. AR 210-10 Paragraph 19 is cited as being explicit in defining the application of this policy.
  11. 23 July 1945, General Court-Martial, Finding, Orders Number 203, 2nd Lieutenant Marsden A. Thompson and 2nd Lieutenant Shirley R. Clinton.
  12. 4 July 1945 Letter Roger C. Terry
  13. 23 July 1945 – General Court Martial Findings for Lt’s Clinton and Thompson