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yperman

William Smith RE deserter

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yperman

Can any kind forum member help me please? I am trying to find information on  my Gt Gt Uncle William Smith. He joined the RE as a sapper and became a signalman. He deserted - in 1918 - on political grounds (he later became a life long member of the British Communist Party). He was born around 1898 in or near Nelson in Lancashire where he was a political activist in the mills where he worked as a weaver. .He seems to have either evaded arrest (in the 1920's he was for some years an itinerant tramp and odd job man) or to have been leniently treated by the authorities..  

 

i will be very grateful for any links or help.

 

Yperman

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johnboy

Where was he when he deserted?

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ss002d6252
32 minutes ago, yperman said:

He seems to have either evaded arrest (in the 1920's he was for some years an itinerant tramp and odd job man) or to have been leniently treated by the authorities..  

After the end of the war there was very little taste for pursuing men for desertion unless they were regular soldiers.

Craig

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Terry_Reeves

We will need a number or at least a middle name if there is one. There were over 12,000 men in the RE with that name , including middle names. Perhaps there may be a clue in his local paper if the desertion was publicised.

 

TR

Edited by Terry_Reeves

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johnboy

Slightly off topic. Is it known if men fed up with waiting in the UK to be demobbed just went to their home?

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yperman
2 hours ago, johnboy said:

Where was he when he deserted?

 

2 hours ago, Terry_Reeves said:

We will need a number or at least a middle name if there is one. There were over 12,000 men in the RE with that name , including middle names. Perhaps there may be a clue in his local paper if the desertion was publicised.

 

TR

Uncle Bill did not have a middle name and I don't think any living family members have any of his papers or army number. My father is definite that he was a signalman when he deserted  and in the UK in 1918 - probably in London - as he was involved there  in Anti-Free Mason incident  shortly after the end of the Great War.  It is highly unlikely he volunteered and so he must have been conscripted. For obvious reasons the family tended to be a reticent about him - especially as many depended on their work as weavers in the Nelson area.

 

I guess it is impossible now to put his life together but having known  him at the end of his life  I would have loved to have known the rest of his story (he wouldn't talk about himself much ). I will try the Nelson area public record office for local papers items. 

 

Thank you. Yperman

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sadbrewer

Did he have a brother Hubert at all?

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yperman
23 hours ago, sadbrewer said:

Did he have a brother Hubert at all?

Sorry about the delay I had to check with family. It seems he did. Many thanks Yperman

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