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3d Session


REPORT No. 1771



JUNE 5 (legislative day, May 28), 1940.—Ordered to be printed

Mr. PITTMAN, from the Committee on Foreign Relations, submitted

the following


[To accompany S. 4097]

The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations having had under consideration the bill (S. 4097) to provide for the disposition of estates of American citizens who die abroad, hereby report the same favorably to the Senate, without amendment, and recommend that it do pass.

For the information of the Senate there are appended hereto and made a part of this report a communication of June 3, 1940, from the President to the Congress of the United States, and a communication of May 31, 1940, from the Secretary of State to the President, in support of this bill, which are as follows: To the Congress of the United States:

I commend to the favorable consideration of the Congress the enclosed draft of proposed legislation designed to clarify and simplify the existing laws governing the disposition by American consular officers of the personal estates of American citizens who die abroad and to remove therefrom certain ambiguities. The draft also authorizes diplomatic officers, in the absence of consular officers, to dispose of such estates.



Washington, May 31, 1940. The PRESIDENT,

The White House: I have the honor to submit with a view to its transmission to the Congress, if you approve, the following draft of proposed legislation designed to amend sections 1709 and 1711 of the Revised Statutes, as amended, in order to clarify and simplify the existing laws governing the disposition by American consular officers and the General Accounting Office of the personal estates of American citizens who die abroad, and to remove certain ambiguities. The draft also authorizes diplomatic officers, in the absence of consular officers, to dispose of such estates.

The hope is expressed that you may consider it appropriate and desirable to transmit the proposed legislation to Congress with your favorable recommendation. I am advised by the Bureau of the Budget that there is no objection to the submission of this proposed legislation to the Congress for consideration. Respectfully submitted.


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JUNE 5 (legis tive day, May 28), 1940.-Ordered to be printed

Mr. Downey, from the Committee on Military Affairs, submitted

the following


[To accompany S. 3539)

do pass.

The Committee on Military Affairs, to whom was referred the bill (S. 3539) for the relief of Thomas M. Barnes, having considered the same, report favorably thereon with the recommendation that it

The purpose of this measure is the posthumous change in the military records of Thomas M. Barnes, formerly of Company I, Eighth Infantry, from dishonorable to honorable discharge from the Army on May 12, 1915.

Barnes died some years ago, and his mother, Mrs. Margaret M. Barnes, of Dorchester, Mass., believes that an injustice was done her son when he was sentenced to serve 1 year at hard labor and to be dishonorably discharged for the theft of one shirt valued at $2.46.

Barnes served two enlistments in the Army; from the first enlistment he was dishonorably discharged and from the second one he received an honorable discharge.

His dishonorable discharge carried with it confinement for 1 year, and this confinement took place at Alcatraz Island, San Francisco, Calif. A dishonorable discharge and confinement for 1 year for the theft of one shirt valued at $2.46 seems unduly severe when it is considered that Barnes was a mere boy who had not arrived at an age of discretion.

While it is appreciated that larceny cannot be tolerated nor go unpunished, no matter what the value of the stolen article, it does seem that the offense committed did not warrant the punishment awarded by the court.

In 1918, 5 months after his dishonorable discharge, the Government called Barnes to military service through the draft and when his services were no longer required he was given an honorable discharge. The War Department report on this measure follows:


Washington, April 4, 1940. Hon. MORRIS SHEPPARD,

Chairman, Committee on Military Affairs, United States Senate. DEAR SENATOR SHEPPARD: This is in response to your request of March 9, 1940, for a report on S. 3539, Seventy-sixth Congress, third session, a bill for the relief of Thomas M. Barnes. I desire to invite your attention to the enclosed report of The Adjutant General of the Army and to state as follows:

8. 3539 proposes by its terms that in the administration of any laws conferring rights, privileges, or benefits upon honorably discharged soldiers Thomas M. Barnes shall be held and considered to have been honorably discharged as a private, Company I, Eighth Regiment, United States Infantry, as of May 12, 1915. Examination of the statement of service of the former soldier prepared in the office of The Adjutant General from the official records reveals that he was dishonorably discharged on the above date pursuant to the sentence of a general court martial.

Upon receipt of your call for a report, the case was referred to the Judge Advocate General. That officer's report dated March 29, 1940, is quoted below:

"By preceding endorsement (A. G. 201, Barnes, Thomas M. (March 9, 1940)) dated March 26, 1940, report has been requested whether the record of trial of Thomas M. Barnes, formerly private, Company I, Eighth Infantry, contains Anything which would justify favorable consideration of the bill S. 3539, and for buch recommendation as may be deemed appropriate.

“The records of this office disclose_that Barnes was tried by a general court martial at Fort William McKinley, Rizal, P. I., April 26, 1915, for larceny of one olive drab shirt of the value of $2.46, property of another soldier. He pleaded guilty, was found guilty as charged, and sentenced to dishonorable discharge, total forfeitures, and confinement at hard labor for 1 year. The prosecution introduced no evidence. The accused did not testify and no evidence was introduced by the defense. The reviewing authority approved the sentence and designated the Pacific Branch, United States Military Prison, Alcatraz, Calif., as the place of confinement. Barnes was dishonorably discharged on May 12, 1918.

"From the attached statement of service it appears that Barnes was inducted Into the military service on October 22, 1918, and was honorably discharged on December 16, 1918, by reason of demobilization. During this service he was convicted of absence without leave (November 18–22, 1918), by summary court martial and sentenced to confinement at hard labor for 3 months and forfeiture of two-thirds of his pay for the same period.

“It is the opinion of this office that there is nothing in the record to justify favorable consideration by the War Department of the bill S. 3539; accordingly, an unfavorable report thereon is recommended.”

It appears from correspondence on file that the former soldier died some 16 or 17 years ago. The title of the bill S. 3539 is, therefore, misleading, and the legislation proposed seemingly would have for its object the granting of some benefit to his dependents.

Private Barnes had been in the service less than 7 months when he committed the offense of which he was convicted, and he had been serving in the Philippine Department less than 3 months. His later service during the World War was even more brief, and although he received an honorable discharge therefrom, the greater portion of his time he was absent without leave and in confinement.

Enactment into law of the proposed bill would, in effect, reverse the considered action of the authorities charged with the execution of the laws and regulations for the government and control of the military forces. It would grant to the dependents of this man, who admitted the crime of which he was convicted by a general court martial, all of the rights, privileges, and benefits which are now or may later be conferred upon the dependents of those former soldiers who served honestly and faithfully at the same time and during the World War, and who received honorable discharges from both of their periods of service. Moreover, the enactment would create a precedent whereunder others similarly situated would clamor for the enactment of legislation under which they might obtain benefits from the Government based on the services of deceased former soldiers who were dishonorably discharged. So far as this Department is able to ascertain there is no justification for the legislation and no merit in the claim.

The War Department strongly recommends against the favorable consideration of S. 3539. Sincerely yours,


Secretary of War.



March 19, 1940. The honorable the SECRETARY OF WAR:

The records show that Thomas M. Barnes enlisted in the Regular Army October 8, 1914, at Fort Slocum, N. Y., and was forwarded to Manila, P. I., where he arrived February 3, 1915. He was assigned to Company I, Eighth Infantry, at Fort William McKinley, P. I., February 25, 1915, and while serving as a private with that organization was tried by a general court martial on the charge of larceny, to the prejudice of good order and military discipline, in that he did "feloniously take, steal, and carry away one olive drab shirt, of the value of $2.46,” the property of another soldier, was found guilty, and sentenced to be dishonorably discharged the service, to forfeit all pay and allowances due or to become due, and to be confined at hard labor for 1 year. He was accordingly dishonorably discharged the service May 12, 1915, at Fort William McKinley, P. I.

He was subsequently inducted into the military service October 22, 1918, by the local board for division No. 9, Boston, Mass.; was assigned Army serial No. 2454975, and forwarded to Fort Banks, Mass., where he was assigned to Company A, Sixty-first Ammunition Train. He was transferred to the Second Truck Company, Sixtieth Ammunition Train, November 8, 1918; was absent without leave November 18 to 22, 1918, and sentenced to confinement at hard labor for 3 months and forfeiture of two-thirds of his pay for the same period, by summary court martial approved November 27, 1918. He was honorably discharged December 16, 1918, at Fort Constitution, N. H., by reason of demobilization.

No record has been found to show that he received any medical treatment while in the military service. Respectfully submitted.


Major General,

The Adjutant General. O

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