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Shot at dawn - British WW1 Military Executions.

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Ron Clifton
8 hours ago, Perth Digger said:

HI Ron

My reading of the Sec. 40 regulations were that if you did use it when another specific section existed, you had to use both (although that may not be clear in the courts-martial records). I've seen plenty of examples where Sec. 40 was used to cover another another specified section. I've seen these by comparing the courts-martial records with the charges in SRs. 

 

In my case above, the reports use Section 40 and he was an officer. 

 

All very confusing.

 

Mike

Confusing indeed! As I read them, the sections of the Army Act, and the explanations given in the Manual of Military Law, are quite clear. Section 40 applies only to "soldiers", and it is made clear elsewhere that this does not include officers. It is not impossible that a charge under Section 40 might be added if the facts given in court were thought insufficient to support a conviction for a more specific offence, but in that case there could be no question of a death sentence, for example.

 

It is also not impossible that, among the 300,000+ courts-martial during the War, some of the paperwork was prepared by inexperienced officers and inaccuracies such as these crept in. No doubt any such errors were, largely speaking, either corrected or (if not materially important) glossed over as part of the confirmation process.

 

Ron

EDIT: I have checked the text and S.40 does apply to officers as well as other ranks, though the maximum permissible punishment under it for officers was cashiering, i.e. not death, penal servitude or imprisonment. I apologise for the errors in this and my earlier post, which I have corrected.

Edited by Ron Clifton

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Ron Clifton
1 hour ago, Muerrisch said:

I would love to see the "course of 12 weeks training" because it would be a brick in the wall of knowledge. I cannot think I missed it in my slow trwl through 1914 AOs and ACIs.

 

The peacetime training syllabus (six months) is given in Appendix II of Infantry Training 1914, where it is described as a guide, and not intended to be followed rigidly.

 

Ron

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Perth Digger

HI Ron

W.3428 was the form to be filled in for self-inflicted wounding cases. On the back it had this:

A soldier is specially trained in the safe use of his rifle and revolver, and evidence of any neglect of the ordinary precautions as to their handling in such cases usually has considerable bearing on the question of negligence. In cases of wilful self-wounding the fullest possible evidence should be obtained; unless the evidence is conclusive this charge [Section 18 (2)] should not be used. The charge will usually be laid under sec. 40 Army Act—“Conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline in wounding himself through negligently handling a rifle”, and an alternative charge to this effect should be made, even if the accused is to be tried under section 18 for wilful maiming.

 

This was what I had in mind above. I assumed it applies to other offences too.

 

Mike

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Ron Clifton

Thanks Mike. That particular example is a good one, as it indicates the utility of S.40 if you couldn't quite prove enough under a more specific section.

 

The Army seems to have adopted a fairly cautious approach to self-inflicted wounds, and from what I have seen concerning boards of enquiry, they were often more disposed to conclude that the wounding was accidental. This still allowed a court-martial under S.40, but not under S.18.

 

Ron

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Guest

If one is looking for deeper context for the British Army's approach to capital punishment the controversial case of Breaker Morant in South Africa is interesting reading. There has been a long campaign by Australian interested parties to get him pardoned. Kitchener signed the death warrant. Haig and French would have been acutely aware of the details of the case. 

 

According to the Wiki article (which is a fascinating read) it had an influence on the British Army's policy on capital punishment in the Great War. I thought it worth flagging as it was a high profile case and arguably the most important one before the Great War that was within living and serving memory. A fairly grisly story of a rather shameful period of British history. MG

Edited by Guest

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Perth Digger

Battalion COs were also keen to play them down, Ron, but I believe they had to be reported to Division.

 

Mike

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Toby Brayley
On 11/12/2017 at 16:50, IPT said:

As an item of curiosity, here's 2nd Lt JH Paterson's pardon. He had been executed for murder.

 

paterson.jpg.b6ae1ccdce0023dd529fb04e382ae24d.jpg

 

This has caused quite a stir at the Museum and the RHQ. The Regimental Secretary is rather livid (to say the least) and is in contact with the authorities to have his pardon overturned, as its a rather contentious subject to pardon the murder of a Military Policeman!

 

 As discussed previous PATTERSON murdered Sgt H A COLLISON (He served with GHQ Detective Branch!) an MSM and DCM winner. 

 

 France, 29/7/1916 to 4/7/1918.From Middlesborough. Murdered. He was born in Stapelhurst. Formerly Royal Field Artillery NO. 126485. (served in RHA 3 1/2 years and RGA 7 years and 5 years in reserve).Transferred to MFP 11/7/1916.

 

He was shot whilst trying to arrest 2nd Lieutenant J H Paterson 1 Bn Essex Regiment who had deserted. The officer was executed by firing squad at the end of Sept 1918,he is buried in Terlincthun British Cemetery, Wimille, France.

 

The Court of Enquiry was held at Calais on the 8/7/1918. Comments from Brigadier General, Base Commandant, Calais 18/7/1918. I concur with the opinion of the Court as to the circumstances under which Sgt. Collison met his death. I consider that had he acted with more promptitude and arrested 2nd Lieut. Paterson when he first met him at Pont de Coulogne at about 6.30 pm on the 3rd instant, the fatality would have been avoided. I consider therefore, that the deceased NCO is, for this reason partly to blame. I consider the conduct of L/Cpl Stockton open to question.

 

I will try to keep you all informed of the progress or lack of it! 

 

 

cOLLINSON 2.jpg

Edited by Toby Brayley

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voltaire60

   What was the Court Martial for Paterson about?  Was he tried for murder or desertion or both?   The above suggests he was tried by Court Martial for desertion only. If that is so, the pardon cannot do otherwise. If the man was not convicted of murder, then he cannot be pardoned of it. Similarly-regrettable though it is- if he was not convicted  of murder, then he is entitled to the same presumption of innocence in the absence of conviction as anyone else in this country-both then and now.  The deserters were pardoned of desertion- picking and choosing who was deserving a century on is a fool's game- the administrative choice was all or none.

 

     Seems he was convicted of murder and executed for that only. He has not been pardoned of that- nor is it likely he ever would be.

Edited by voltaire60

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Toby Brayley

Paterson was charged with murder, desertion and 5 counts of forgery, however his defending officer (a barrister in Civvy street) argued that he be tried for murder separately and it is understood that his petition to the court was successful and Paterson was tried and convicted for murder and sentenced to death.   Our research continues. 

Edited by Toby Brayley

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spof

While looking for something else, I came across this interesting, if somewhat rambling, transcript from the Australian Parliament in late September 1918.

 

"DESERTIONS AT THE FRONT." The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954) 27 September 1918: 8. Web. 7 Dec 2017

 

It starts off asking why the names of deserters are published in local papers because of the shame .it brings to the families. The reply was that it is no different to a man in  a civilian criminal court having his name in the papers and thus bringing shame to families. Among the other things raised is the idea to look into copying the French system of having  private on the panel when a private is being tried. It ends with the infallible logic that it is understandable that a man's nerves may be shattered, he should think clearly about the possible prison sentence before deserting!:wacko:

Edited by spof
Corrected a typo

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JulianR

On the subject of basic training I enlisted in the Royal Artillery in 1972.  We called the first 3 months basic training, but looking back it divided into two parts.

Roughly the first six weeks, was drill,  PT and Small Arms training, with the Small Arms training not beginning before about week 3, having passed off the square we then went onto basic artillery gunnery training, and more drill etc.  So, yes basic training was 6 weeks or so.  Fairly early on in this time we had one lecture on military law, which laid down the basics of Battery and Regiments Orders and Court Martials.  It was emphasised that being late back from leave was not an option.  

 

Whenever we proceeded on active service that was always promulgated on Regimental and Battery Orders and it was made clear that having been warned for active service that a charge of being AWOL would then become desertion.  I find it hard to believe that similar procedures were not in force in 1914.  

 

As for the difference in sentences for Officers and ORs, Officers are expected to have a higher standard of behaviour than the ORs, and consequently have harsher punishments and more privileges.  The effect of an officer being cashiered would be more destructive to him for the remainder of his life than an OR being dishonourably discharged.  After getting his first job the OR could effectively ignore the inconvenient discharge, further employers would probably not be interested in his military disciplinary record unless he had to get security clearance, the type of job an officer would be likely to apply for would have a very different attitude.  

 

I did read about Sgt Collison and Paterson, if I remember correctly, he allowed Paterson to go back inside to say goodbye to his French girlfriend.  An act of kindness which was repaid by his murder.  Perhaps he thought that Paterson was an officer and gentleman and would not give any trouble.  No doubt that Collison was a product of his time and army service and gave Paterson an unwarranted benefit of doubt. 

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QUEX
On ‎16‎/‎11‎/‎2017 at 16:01, TwoEssGee said:

I wasn't going to respond to this point, as I didn't want to disrupt a thoroughly absorbing and interesting thread for such a minor point, but as it was brought up by Mike (Perth Digger) I guess it is worth clarifying.

 

As an adult recruit, I went through infantry basic training (Guards) in 1982. It was 26 weeks, not 5.

The 5 weeks Martin mentioned might have been the absolute minimum "infantry" part of basic training carried out by soldiers who were joining one of the Corps units, prior to entering their "trade" training, but even this seems a little short. No Infantry soldier passed out having completed only 5 weeks basic training. From memory, it was around  20 or 22  weeks. The Guards had a few extra weeks added on for drill.

The drop out rate was similar to what Martin mentioned. We started with 56, and ended up with 21. 

 

IIRC in 1978 the 'Common Military Syllabus, Regular' as I think it was called was 6 weeks for all arms.  That was followed by a period of trade training which varied in length from arm to arm - and as you say, in the case of Guards, even varied within the infantry.  At the end of CMSR I was certainly not a trained infanteer.

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QUEX

On the subject of the different offending/conviction rates for officers, I've always wondered if some officers were 'managed out' of battalions before they became a problem?  I.e. does 2/Lt Snooks of 1/Loams who is showing signs of being a less than ideal infantry officer become 2/Lt Snooks (graded for the purposes of pay as Staff Lt, 2nd Class), Entertainments Officer, Base Marseilles ??

 

Wound never suggest this is the complete answer, but it might it be a factor?

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Loader

This may have been mentioned already. I recall in one of Middlebrook's books about a British officer who jumped into a shell hole & cut himself on a bayonet or some such item. It was a bad cut & required medical care. He says he was worried he'd be charged with a SIW  for the injury. Maybe someone can recall al the details of this one.

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voltaire60
3 hours ago, Loader said:

This may have been mentioned already. I recall in one of Middlebrook's books about a British officer who jumped into a shell hole & cut himself on a bayonet or some such item. It was a bad cut & required medical care. He says he was worried he'd be charged with a SIW  for the injury. Maybe someone can recall al the details of this one.

 

   Captain Philip Howe, MC, 10th West Yorkshires

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Perth Digger

Such accidents were fairly common, especially among those returning from a raid. I doubt that a SIW charge was often contemplated under trench conditions, when someone else's weapon was involved in a confined space.

 

MIke

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inkerman

Has anyone contributing to this thread ever served on a Court Martial Board, or been Court martialled?  Just wondered if anyone is contributing their personal experiences?

 

Richard

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2ndCMR
Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, inkerman said:

Has anyone contributing to this thread ever served on a Court Martial Board, or been Court martialled?  Just wondered if anyone is contributing their personal experiences?

 

Richard

Now there's a pertinent question!

 

"Opinions are like ---holes: everyone has one".

 

Since we all have navels as well, the choice of that other orifice for the metaphor might allude to the worth of many of those opinions?

 

This obsession, not to say mania, over the SAD issue is an interesting phenomenon in itself from a psychological point of view.  I suggest that it reflects the compulsion of certain present generations to posture as morally superior to their forefathers.  This compulsion is I think related to the realization that those generations haven't participated in any great struggle like a world war and consciously or unconsciously, this creates sense of inadequacy that rankles and generates a certain jealousy and resentment which the posture of moral superiority helps to soothe.

Edited by 2ndCMR

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inkerman
On ‎14‎/‎01‎/‎2018 at 13:29, QUEX said:

On the subject of the different offending/conviction rates for officers, I've always wondered if some officers were 'managed out' of battalions before they became a problem?  I.e. does 2/Lt Snooks of 1/Loams who is showing signs of being a less than ideal infantry officer become 2/Lt Snooks (graded for the purposes of pay as Staff Lt, 2nd Class), Entertainments Officer, Base Marseilles ??

 

Wound never suggest this is the complete answer, but it might it be a factor?

How right you are.  Leaders have to be leaders [Officers have to behave as an Officer is expected to behave] or they are worse than useless, and the duds were removed with the least possible fuss, just as they were during my service. I think that soldiers sum up their officers very quickly,[and I have given away my status now] and classify them as good or bad.  George Coppard [with a machine gun to Cambrai] and Brigadier General Jack [General Jack's diary] both describe separate officers who failed to make the grade in a front line infantry battalion, and were managed out to fill a less demanding post.

 

PS Not really relevant, but my parents knew a man whose summit of achievement in WW 2 was 'town major of Naples'.  He was very second rate, and I disliked him on sight, aged 7!

 

Richard

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Wexflyer
On 11/11/2017 at 05:16, voltaire60 said:

 

(PS I am aware that decimation is one in 10, by it's name- I use it to mean a system of randomised choice in the application of a death penalty).

 

Isn't that sortition?

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voltaire60
55 minutes ago, Wexflyer said:

 

Isn't that sortition?

 

      Thought that was the Northern Ireland-Republic border  :wub:

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Ghazala

4E5C257D-D141-47FB-B08C-908E1F04CA27.jpeg

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Stevend

Can I ask with regards to soldier's shot for murder would these crimes be military or civilian related or both.

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themonsstar

I would go with both as it was a capital crime.When the soldiers were politically pardoned none of the murderers were.

Edited by themonsstar

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jonny956

Dear all,

I wondered if anyone would be kind enough to assist me in sorting out a slight conundrum, please?

I searched the forum and could find little in the way of information concerning 17402 Private Frederick Broadrick, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, who was executed for desertion on 1 Aug 17. I did, however, find reference on the net to his home address of ‘36’ Norman Street, Winson Green, Birmingham. Further digging revealed what I took to be his service records for a previous voluntary enlistment in the West Yorks in Brum in 1914 (14353 Pte). This SR gives an address of ‘39’ Norman Street, Winson Green. It also states that his NoK was a 'Lill Daniels – stepsister – Winson Green'.  Julian Putkowski states that Frederick Broadrick left his possessions to his stepsister, Lilly May Daniels (nee Darby), living at 39 Norman Street, Birmingham.

All fairly clear so far, but now the conundrum.

Try as I might, I can find no reference to Fred Broadrick in any online reference docs. He is simply a black hole. The 1911 Census shows us that Lily May Daniels (nee Darby) is residing with her family at 39 Norman Street. There is no sign of Fred Broadrick at the address in 1911. However, also living at No. 39 are her two stepbrothers; Frederick Bache and Ernest Bache (sons of Alfred Bache and Sarah AH Vaughan). Now I am nearly positive that Lily May did not have a stepbrother called Frederick Broadrick. As the age of Frederick Bache is broadly in line with that of Fred Broadrick (DoB 1885 – 1887), I am starting to chew over the notion that Fred Broadrick was in reality Fred Bache, who enlisted under a false name. It’s either that, or Fred Broadrick lied when he stated that Lily May was his stepsister.

The reason that I am so interested is that Lily May was my great grandmother.

Unfortunately, working in Kenya with the British Army, and with limited access to any reference documents, I have stalled at this point.

Very many thanks for any assistance given.

Jonny

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