Date Of Execution: 29 Apr 1943
Crime Location: Hankley Common, Godalming, Surrey
Execution Place: Wandsworth
Executioner: Albert Pierrepoint
August Sangret murdered his girlfriend Joan Pearl Wolfe 19 at Hankley Common, Godalming on 13 September 1942 who he stabbed and battered to death.
A case that became infamous as the ‘Wigwam Murder’. Sangret, a 30-year-old French-Canadian soldier was serving in England in 1942. On 7th October of that year an army vehicle driving on Hankley Common, Godalming, Surrey, disturbed the earth and exposed a human arm and it was noticed shortly afterwards by two soldiers on a field exercise on the common. The arm belonged to the badly decomposed body of a woman. A forensic examination conducted by Professor Keith Simpson determined that blows from a blunt instrument had killed the woman after she had been stabbed by a knife that had a hooked tip. She had been pregnant at the time of her death. The body was identified as that of Joan Pearl Wolfe. She had been living rough near the army camp in a crudely made shelter of branches and heather. When the common was searched the girl’s identity card was found along with a letter to Sangret telling him that she was pregnant. When Sangret was interviewed he admitted that he knew the girl and had been living rough with her. When asked by police to produce his clasp knife he claimed that he had lost it. His battledress uniform was examined and freshly washed stains were tested and these turned out to blood. Sangret was charged with the girl’s murder. The knife was found blocking a pipe on 27th November.
Sangret’s trial opened at Kingston Assizes in February 1943. It was determined that the girl had died on 13th September, probably after telling Sangret that she was pregnant by him. The body had been dragged to the top a hill for burial and this, it was suggested, came from Sangret’s Red Indian ancestry when the bodies of enemies were buried on hilltops. He was found guilty and, despite a recommendation to mercy, was sentenced to death. Sangret was hanged at Wandsworth Prison on 29th April 1943.
see Murder UK
see National Archives - PCOM 9/974, HO 144/21860, MEPO 3/2237 and HO 144/21861