September 01, 2014

Legal Lore: A Deserter in France: The Strange Case of Private Wayne E. Powers

Fred L. Borch

In March 1958, French police discovered a man concealed under the stairs in a home in Mont d’Origny, France. The man was Private Wayne E. Powers, an American soldier who had deserted from his unit in December 1944. Since that time, Powers had been hiding out in France and, over the next 13 years, had fathered five children with the French woman who owned the home in which he was discovered. What follows is the story of Private Powers’ 1958 trial by court-martial for desertion and its rather surprising aftermath.

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