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Remembered Today:

Deserters imprisoned


Skipman

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24/2/1917 from The People's Journal

" Hiding in the hills. 3 tinkers named John Townsley, George Townsley and John McPhee were charged before Sheriff Syme at Perth on Thursday with having committed 9 acts of theft the articles mainly consisting of food. The accused pleaded guilty and it was explained that they were deserters from the army, and had been hiding in the hills at Killin. Sentence of 6 weeks imprisonment was passed on each of the accused."

I found this article in " The People's Journal " I couldn't find any other mention of it, but wondered why a Civil Court might try, and pass sentence on deserters.

If these men were from a 2nd, or 3rd line battalion, serving in the UK would not the Army have been responsible for punishment?

Mike

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Mike

They were convicted of a criminal offence by a civilian court, which had nothing to do with the army. Desertion was a purely military offence. At the end of their sentences they would have been handed over to the military authorities to be dealt with under military law.

TR

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Thanks very much Terry. I wonder how they were dealt with by the Army?

Say, for example, a soldier on leave, committed a civilian offence, If he was back with his unit overseas , would the civilian authorities have the right to have him sent back to face trial, or would they be content to let the Army dish out the punishment?

Cheers Mike

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Frustratingly, i've found a deserter, 425933 John Townsley ASC of Alloa, hawker by trade. However, he didn't desert until September 1918.

Not too many Townsleys. I'm sure we can trace them.

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Mike

I'm afraid I can't answer that, there are to many variables.

TR

Aye. Sorry Terry. There must have been times when it was difficult to decide who should be responsible?

Cheers Mike

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Frustratingly, i've found a deserter, 425933 John Townsley ASC of Alloa, hawker by trade. However, he didn't desert until September 1918.

Not too many Townsleys. I'm sure we can trace them.

I had a look at the MIC's and there are quite a few. He could also have deserted twice? Perhaps someone with a Scotsman Archives subscription could have a gander, if not I will subscribe for a day sometime soon. I will have a look when get a minute.

Cheers Mike

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19 year old Pte Henry Basire 5th; 6th & 1st Bns Northamptonshire Regt,has 91 odd pages of Service & Civil & Military Courts Martial papers mostly concerned with just this,he deserted following a period of leave in 1916 after being wounded,he & another Soldier were arrested for breaking into two shops a Dairy & a Tobacconists,in North London;making off with a number of items & Cash,both were arrested and tried by the civil courts immprisoned for nearly two years & on release sent to a Military Prison in Dublin,being finally discharged in the 1920s,he received his 1914~15 Star BWM & Victory Medal the MiC; however, simply states "deserter"

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Say, for example, a soldier on leave, committed a civilian offence, If he was back with his unit overseas , would the civilian authorities have the right to have him sent back to face trial, or would they be content to let the Army dish out the punishment?

Hello Mike

The Army authorities overseas had the power to deal with soldiers committing ordinary criminal, non-military, offences under Section 41 of the Army Act. They did not have that power in the UK, where the ordinary criminal courts had jurisdiction.

In the scenario you mention, a possible solution would have been for the civil authorities to lay information (and, if necessary, provide witnesses) to the Army, who would then try the soldier by court martial under Section 41.

It is also possible that the Army might post the soldier back to the UK where the civil authorities could "get at him". But I suspect that the Army would be reluctant to release men from military service if they were still considered capable of contributing to the military effort, bearing in mind the constant pressure on manpower.

I don't think the civil authorities could, in effect, extradite a serving soldier from overseas. There are various provisions in the Army Act protecting soldiers from certain civil responsibilities e.g. liability for jury service, and there is still, I believe, a provision that a soldier's pay or gratuity cannot be attached by civil process.

Ron

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<snip} and there is still, I believe, a provision that a soldier's pay or gratuity cannot be attached by civil process.

Ron

That is correct, the Attachment of Earnings Act 1971 does not apply to members of the armed forces although a creditor can apply to the relevant paymaster for an allotment of earnings to be deducted instead.

Nigel

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That is correct, the Attachment of Earnings Act 1971 does not apply to members of the armed forces although a creditor can apply to the relevant paymaster for an allotment of earnings to be deducted instead.

I've found that a copy of the attachment order sent to the Army Payroll office tends to elicit the correct response (i.e cant do it under the order that's been sent) but tends to also result in a note to the commanding officer followed by a rather swift payment by the person involved.

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