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John Gilinsky

Refusal of Medical Treatments and Court Martial Records

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John Gilinsky

During WWI a few soldiers insistently refused certain medical treatments for a variety of reasons and objectives.  Some were threatened with formal disciplinary actions including Court Martials.  Some were actually court-martialled.  The British Army Act, Section 18 (sub-section 3) - Wilfully Disobeying Orders / By Means of Which Disobedience He Delayed the Cure of His Infirmity was with other relevant sections used to prosecute.  Clearly malingering, even cowardice allegations etc... might be invoked


1)  Does anyone know of any specific individual case(s) as reported by any press coverage of such individuals for: 

a) being threatened with being court-martialled;

b) actually being court-martialled;

c) the results of such formal military legal procedures on the actual refusing soldier/officer [ dishcarged/ transferred/ dishonourably discharged / imprisoned / fined / ....] ?


2)  Are National Archives indexes to court martial records accessible via specific charges with the cases in any way?


3)  If found guilty (or acquitted) were such formal Court-Martial proceedings promulgated in general Army Orders or any other major military orders publication?


4)  Where are any other especially primary sources available for WWI and 1919 to 1939 period relevant court-martial materials, transcripts, exhibits,...?


5)  I am interested in ALL such cases / proceedings including Imperial / Colonial forces Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, .... Does anyone have any specific cases / records citing such Imperial / Colonial relevant cases?


6)  I am especially interested in all mental health, shellshock/war trauma related cases.


One fascinating case from Toronto, Ontario, Canada late in the war (where the defending soldier cross-examined 4 Canadian psychiatrists in October 1918 and whose clearly trial transcript excerpt are included in his personnel file)


John Benjamin Pope CEF Serial # 219695


Library and Archives Canada LAC-BAC online Soldiers of First World War 


Thanks all,






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Unfortunately, I have nothing to add to your search but the service record of Mr. Pope is a fascinating read. It does seem a bit harsh for a man with a 3 year unblemished record to receive 2 years hard labour for refusing to be electrocuted. I know that some soldiers were treated for shell shock using Galvanism and I wonder how many of them were unhappy enough with the treatment to refuse it.



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