Private Wiley Harris Jr was born on 12th June 1918 in Greenville, Georgia, USA.
He served with 626th Ordnance Ammunition Corps and transferred to Northern Ireland in the lead up to D-Day.
626th Ordnance Corps were on of the US Army’s segregated regiments for black soldiers. At one time they were based in Dromantine House, near Newry in Co. Down.
A gruesome murder in Belfast
It was during a night out in a bar in Belfast that things would take a drastic turn for Wiley Harris. Harry Coogan, a known pimp in the area, approached Harris and offered him the services of a girl.
A disagreement turned into a fight and in the end, around sixteen stab wounds were inflicted by the American GI on 6th March 1944.
Harris at first fled to the Red Cross Quarters to remove the blood from his uniform. Eventually, the law caught up with the American Private. He was arrested, Court Maritaled at Victoria Barracks and sent to Shepton Mallet prison in the UK.
Renowned British hangman Thomas Pierrepoint executed Wiley Harris Jr on Friday 26th May 1944.