Battle of Alcatraz

Battle Of Alcatraz

Military Conflict
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Battle of Alcatraz

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The Battle of Alcatraz, which lasted from May 2–4, 1946, was the result of an unsuccessful escape attempt at Alcatraz Island Federal Penitentiary. Two guards—William A. Miller and Harold Stites—were killed along with three of the inmates. Eleven guards and one convict were also injured. Two of the surviving convicts were later executed for their roles.

The Takeover

On May 2, 1946, while most convicts and guards were in outside workshops, Bernard Coy, a bank robber serving a 25-year sentence at Alcatraz, was in the C Block cell-house sweeping the floor when kitchen orderly Marvin Hubbard called on guard William Miller to let him in as he had just finished cleaning the kitchen. As Miller was frisking Hubbard for any stolen articles, Coy assaulted him from behind and the two men overpowered the officer. They then released Joseph Cretzer and Clarence Carnes from their cells.

The cell block had an elevated gun gallery which was regularly patrolled by an armed guard. The guard, Bert Burch, had a set routine and the convicts had attacked Miller while he was away. Coy, as cell-house orderly, had over the years spotted a flaw in the bars protecting the gun gallery which allowed them to be widened using a bar-spreading device consisting of a nut and bolt with client metal sleeve which moved when the nut was turned by a small wrench. Coy thus managed to spread the bars and...
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