Jump to content
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Death sentences for "Sleeping" outside F&F


roughdiamond
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hi folks

Was looking at the only 2 men executed for "Sleeping at post" during WW1 and both were in Mesopotamia, I then looked further and found that of 51 British and Commonwealth men sentenced to Death in Mesopotamia, 26 were for Sleeping, around 51% of the total, yet although the offence has the 2nd highest number sentenced to Death after Desertion, it only makes up around 13.1% of the total Death sentences handed out!

The figure was even higher in Gallipoli with 63 of 104 or 60.6% of Death sentences for "Sleeping". Egypt was also higher than average at 23% or 11 in 48 sentences.

Was there a reason that the offence seems to be more common or commonly punished by Death in these areas?

Sam

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sam,



On the Gallipoli peninsula there were no rear rest areas in the accepted (Western Front) sense


All areas, front and rear, were under constant artillery fire and there was an ever-present danger from rifle fire 'overs' even in the rest areas.


Hamilton was well aware of the conditions and appears to have sanctioned only one single deaths sentence to be carried out: Davis, and this was not for sleeping at his post


The other two death sentences which were carried out were during Monro's command


and again, they were not for sleeping



regards


Michael


Link to comment
Share on other sites

This subject is covered well by Prof Tim Travers in his 2001 book 'Gallipoli 1915' ; see his chapter The Experience of Modern War at Gallipoli'

On page 186 he writes

“Between 25 April and 31 December 1915, 101 men at Gallipoli were sentenced to death, but only three executions were carried out. This is a rate of just under 3%, while in the British forces generally in World War I, 3,080 men were sentenced to death, with 11% being carried out. Hamilton's lenient policy continued through his tenure at Gallipoli, so that although there were many cases of sleeping on duty, this was excused because of the hot sun and exhaustion. Also, from 25 July 1915 onwards, Field Punishment No.1 was suspended on Gallipoli because it exposed the men to shell fire....”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Admin

This subject is covered well by Prof Tim Travers in his 2001 book 'Gallipoli 1915' ; see his chapter The Experience of Modern War at Gallipoli'

On page 186 he writes

“Between 25 April and 31 December 1915, 101 men at Gallipoli were sentenced to death, but only three executions were carried out. This is a rate of just under 3%, while in the British forces generally in World War I, 3,080 men were sentenced to death, with 11% being carried out. Hamilton's lenient policy continued through his tenure at Gallipoli, so that although there were many cases of sleeping on duty, this was excused because of the hot sun and exhaustion. Also, from 25 July 1915 onwards, Field Punishment No.1 was suspended on Gallipoli because it exposed the men to shell fire....”

Interesting, my great uncle was one of those sentenced for sleeping whilst on duty (he had the sentence reduced to penal servitude).

Craig

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Michael and Alan.

Strangely one of the Executions on the Gallipoli peninsula was for Desertion and Escape, that of Pte Harry Salter of the 6th East Lancs. An explanation is given in "Diary of an Old Contemptible" by Eric Roe who served in the same Bn and witnessed the execution, he said Pte Salter was being given a really rough time by his Sergeant Major and rather than deserting which would have been impossible unless it was to the enemy, he'd attached himself to another unit to get away from him.

If true, or even partly true, it strikes me as a glaring case of wrongful sentence and that's not a phrase I use often if at all when it comes to those SAD.

Sam

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Strangely one of the Executions on the Gallipoli peninsula was for Desertion and Escape, that of Pte Harry Salter of the 6th East Lancs. An explanation is given in "Diary of an Old Contemptible" by Eric Roe who served in the same Bn and witnessed the execution, he said Pte Salter was being given a really rough time by his Sergeant Major and rather than deserting which would have been impossible unless it was to the enemy, he'd attached himself to another unit to get away from him.

If true, or even partly true, it strikes me as a glaring case of wrongful sentence and that's not a phrase I use often if at all when it comes to those SAD.

There is no mention of Salter's sergeant in Travers, however he does say that when Salter was finally captured he was wearing Australian uniform, which ties in with the 'other unit' you mention.

Salter went absent on 1 November, was taken the first time on 11 November, but escaped his escort.

He was retaken on 16 November, but escaped again. He was rearrested on 18 November, only to escape yet once more and then be recaptured the following day.

He had a previous conviction for desertion back in August 1915, and all the character witnesses at his second trial were bad. “Salter had nothing to say in his defence”. Monro confirmed the sentence and Salter was executed at 0715 on 11 December 1915

[details from Travers' "Gallipoli 1915", see pages 183/4]

regards

Michael

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As I have commented on Sam's post and happened to be at the Arboretum yesterday I thought I would add the images below.

During the visit I was fortunate to spend a short time in the company of a 90 year young Burma veteran. I believe the Burma Star Association were holding their AGM at the Arboretum yesterday.

Regards

Alan

post-74297-0-91297300-1463310095_thumb.j

post-74297-0-77487600-1463310110_thumb.j

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for that Alan, the fact he was dressed as an Aussie seems to back up that part of Roe's story, I wonder if his reason for doing it is as Roe claims.

Thanks for the photos Alan, old Soldiers can tell some great stories, we had a Sergeants mess associate member in my old TA unit who had the distinction of going on a TA annual camp in 1939 and not seeing the UK again till 1946.

Sam

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Given the likely condition of uniforms by November 1915, I wonder exactly what constituted being 'dressed as an Aussie'?!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Probably just a change of badges!

Ron

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't want to drag this thread too far off Sam's particular interest


however, I would like to share the following tale, which you may think contrasts with the episode of Salter switching uniforms, and the sad end which befell him.



In 1936, Captian Hughes C. Lockyer CB, RN, of HMS Implacable, wrote a little booklet describing his actions at X Beach on 25th April 1915, and he concludes his notes with the following paragraph



Implacable 'Deserters'


After the landing beaches had more or less settled down, it was found that we had four men missing from the beach parties – this was passed along. A few days afterwards a boat came alongside and deposited the four men dressed in a mixed uniform of Royal Fusiliers and Lancashire Fusiliers. On being brought before me they all had broad grins. On being asked why they had left the beach, the reply was :- “We couldn't help it, Sir – we had to -” but said one “We had a hell of a time -.” They had been in the front line for a week!! So all I could do was congratulate them on being alive.”



regards


Michael


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mates,

Australians with no death penalty were more lax with these men;

BURKE John Cecil 2991 Pte 7 LHR 22R tos Anzac MD HQ 5-17 to ADS 2-18 FGCM 13-8-18 asleep on duty at PoW camp sentenced 2 years HL remitted 8-18 RTA MU cardiac

McKELL Arthur Herbert 2832 A/L/Sgt 7 LHR 19R Tos 8-16 to 17Co/4Bn ICC 5-17 FGCM 11-2-18 sleeping on duty sentenced 1 year HL suspended 21-2-18 rtn 3-18 to 04 LHR 7-18 (NZEF Samoan Advance Party 5th Wellington Regt (1/245) author "The Desert Legion" 1930 & "McKell's King Cross Diary" 1953 & "Stop Accidents Campaign" 1955 & "Traveller's Valediction" and "Highway Prayer" 1957 & "The Highway Life-Guards" 1958

PRETTEJOHN Walter Henry 1119 Pte 9 LHR 8R tos A Sqn 10-15 (G) FGCM 28-6-16 sleeping on his post as sentinel sentenced 12 months HL suspended rtn 10-16 to Dvr 3 LH Bde HQ 2-19 (CMF 8 months)

PYE Leslie Raymond 1377 Pte 2 Remts 5 Sqn FGCM 14-7-17 sleeping on duty sentenced 60 days FP1 att FRS Rafa 11-17

STEVENS William 1203 Pte 9 LHR 9R tos A Sqn 12-15 FGCM 9-4-17 sleeping on guard sentenced 2 years HL remitted 7-17 died cholera at 3 LHFA at Kaukab near Damascus NKG listed on Jerusalem Memorial Palestine AKA alais Brazel James

WILLIAMS Harry 1529 Pte 8 LHR 12R tos C Sqn 12-15 to batman to Lt Enyars 9-17 FGCM 13-5-18 sleeping on guard sentenced 1 year HL to Gabbarri Prison rtn sentence suspended 3-19 AKA changed name to Patrick Francis William St John age 18

STONE Ernest Leslie 484 Pte 9 LHR C Sqn (G) FGCM 19-6-16 sleeping on duty sentenced 112 days HL remitted to 3 LHFA 7-16 to Dvr 3-18 to AIF HQ 11-18

Cheers

​S.B

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...