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Remembered Today:

Courts Martial


hazelclark

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I have been looking at the A.G. diaries (Meerut Div.) in search of a Court Marshall that was held in November 1914, but discovered that all such have been blocked out. So then I went and looked at the 8th Seaforth for 1918 and discovered the same thing. I am therefore assuming that this was the normal procedure. That being the case, where does one find such records if in fact they still exist?

Thanks,

Hazel

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Hello Hazel

Many of the records relating to courts-martial which were withdrawn from war diaries were put into a separate class in the National Archives, WO154. Item WO154/14 contains information from the Deputy Judge Advocate General of the Indian Corps between October 1914 and March 1915.

Unfortunately this file has not been digitised and as you live in Canada a personal visit to Kew is presumably not possible, but you may be able to find a researcher willing to act for you. There is an area on the Forum where such matters can be arranged.

Good luck!

Ron

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Hi Hazel, Ron is spot on and I thought I'd copied those ones. I'm on the iPad at the moment. I will get the laptop on this network here and check my hard drive tomorrow. Arrived 4.30pm yesterday and running around all day today so took time out for a 5 mile walk tonight and still not got myself sorted properly with the IT stuff but made a start just now with the iPad and phone.

Marjorie

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Thanks Steve, Ron and Marjorie, I think the guy who said he had better bring his tent in the previous thread has a point!

Marjorie, you did copy the Meerut A.G. Diaries, but, as far as I can see, all Courts Martial are blanked out, both in there and the Division and Brigade. I was really only looking for Mackay who was busted to the ranks in November/December 1914, and the French Canadian guy with the 8th Seaforth in Feb./March 1918. Anyway, where you are you will be lucky to have cell phone coverage, never mind internet! Have fun! I would like to send you some of our heat - over 100 degrees!

Hazel

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Glad to help, Hazel.

We are quite warm enough at the moment, at around 80 degrees!

One slight warning though: the material extracted into WO154 seems to relate mainly to the capital cases. There may be little, if any, info on the minor cases. If you still have no luck, go to the link in Steve's post number 2 where I have given a list of the Kew file references for records of many of the overseas courts-martial.

Ron

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Hi Hazel, Still on iPad but internet wiffy in the cottage is just grand. There is a landline too so I'm fine with that. I did copy WO 95/154 files and put it in a sub-folder maybe of that name or 'removed material'. However, between 51st HD, 15th SD & Meerut Div. I cannot recall whether I did all and that's what I need to check out on the hard drive. I noted that when I was copying the files, some of the information had been weeded out for good. Also, the problem I encountered when trying to copy the Meerut Div. information was that the files in the boxes had been combined with the Lahore Div. In short, the boxes were in an absolutely terrible mess the files were all mixed up together and out of order too.

I need to go out and get an extension cable for the laptop I know as soon as I plug in the hard drive, the external drive will gobble up the battery power and there isn't really a suitable place for me to plug it in and work it for any length of time. I'll be fine once I get a cable. I noticed the midges were out in force last night and they seem to have had a field day around my face (nose and eyes a bit puffy from bites). I should be able to get a cable this afernoon but will have to go and tire out the hounds first.

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Glad to help, Hazel.

We are quite warm enough at the moment, at around 80 degrees!

One slight warning though: the material extracted into WO154 seems to relate mainly to the capital cases. There may be little, if any, info on the minor cases. If you still have no luck, go to the link in Steve's post number 2 where I have given a list of the Kew file references for records of many of the overseas courts-martial.

Ron

Thanks Ron,

In fact I did copy that list when i read the thread, JUST in case i get to Kew when I am over later in the summer! In any case, as you say, I may not find anything, although the second FCM I mentioned was a capital offence and the guy was shot.

Marjorie x raying her computer, so one never knows what will turn up!

Hazel

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That is interesting Terry. Thanks for that. I hadn't realised there were four different types of Courts martial.

Hazel

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Hi Hazel,

Files I copied for Meerut Div. are as follows:

WO 95/1091

WO 95/1093

WO 154/14

WO 154/15

WO 154/16

15th SD file copied is:

WO 154/41 there was only a single sheet on file.

Are these the files you have?

Marjorie

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Hi Hazel,

Files I copied for Meerut Div. are as follows:

WO 95/1091

WO 95/1093

WO 154/14

WO 154/15

WO 154/16

15th SD file copied is:

WO 154/41 there was only a single sheet on file.

Are these the files you have?

Marjorie

Yes they are Marjorie. They make very interesting reading. In particular the issue of flogging is tossed back and forth a bit! All sounds a bit archaic, but I guess that is what it was like in those days. Also, the restrictions placed on the movement/behaviour of Indians as opposed to the British troops would cause outrage nowadays. In a way it is a sort of social history of the times.

I have a new source for Seaforth info. by the way.

Hazel

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Oh good, I'm glad you have all of those as I thought I might have missed something but I think there might've been more. I think when I checked last night, they went up to the end of October 1915 and they left France a short time after. If I missed any, it would be because I was strapped for time. I know that some stuff regarding Courts Martial were removed into WO 154 but some of it wasn't and it remains in the original WO 95 diary files. I also noticed there was stuff weeded from WO 95 that you would then expect to find in WO 154 but it isn't there, it has just been weeded out.

I didn't think WO 154 was for capital offences, I thought it was for information of a sensitive or delicate nature. There used to be a little write-up about it on the TNA website but don't know if that's still there or not since the site has changed quite a bit since I read about it.

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In continuing the followup of a couple of my Grandfather's contemporaries in Cromarty, I found the Pension Records of a guy called Malcolm McKenzie who joined in 1902.(the Gordons this time) This man was a well known character in Cromarty and was nicknamed "The Highland Chief". The reason I decided to research him was that many moons ago, he dictated his memoirs to a family friend who thought he was a Seaforth. In any case, his stories were passed on to the journalist and author Donald Alexander McKenzie to put into a book. On checking Donalec's books, I can't see that there was anything he wrote after the 1920s that might have used the information so I guess it all "disappeared".

However, on looking at the pension records, I was amazed to see that the Chief was courtmartialled (sp?) at least 9 times! I have looked at hundreds of records and have never seen anything even closely approaching this one. As far as I can see, the guy spent more time in jail, doing hard labour, or various forms of field punishment than being gainfully employed in the army. He had so much of his pay forfeited, that I don't know how he lived. Not only that, but many of his "crimes" were for "desertion" and being "absent " from duty for significant periods of time. There were oodles of punishments for more minor things like being drunk etc., but I am astounded that he was kept on, or not shot even, for the more serious infractions.

In about 1918 they transferred him to the MGC "For the good of the Service", and again, for the same reason to the Labour Corp. about three months later.

Malcolm was obviously a very colourful character but how did he survive in the army?

Hazel.

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Hazel

Have you read George Macdonald Fraser's books featuring a certain Private McAuslan? He survived in the army (albeit fictionally, and in the late 1940s) against considerable odds.

The Army was fairly reluctant to lose a man, by whatever means, if it thought it could still get worthwhile soldiering out of him. It may well be the case that his desertions or absences could be attributed mostly to the effects of drink, and that allowance was made for this when sentencing him. Nine courts-martial does seem a lot, though!

Ron

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Have not read that book Ron, but will look for it.

Malcolm's record was certainly not fictional and I downloaded 9 pages of charges of one kind and another. The periods of absence were not just a couple of days. Some were for weeks! I wished I could have spoken with him because he really seems to have been quite a character. However, when you think that men were actually shot for lesser infractions the fact that he survived is incredible. One thing I did notice was that Haig commuted one of his sentences to penal servitude which I don't think he actually served. Some bits are rather hard to read and I may have missed some Courts Martial! He lasted until the very end and was evacuated from Russia in, I think, 1920. If you have "Ancestry" you can see these records for yourself.

Hazel

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Have not read that book Ron, but will look for it.

Hazel

There are three, actually:

The General Danced at Dawn

McAuslan in the Rough

The Sheikh and the Dustbin

They are available from Amazon as a paperback omnibus edition "The Complete McAuslan" at £4.81 second-hand.

One of the stories is actually called "McAuslan's Court Martial".

Ron

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Done! Thanks Ron!

Hazel

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