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Desertion


Phill Jones
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Please may I ask the experts on this forum to advise me , I am researching a soldier local to me who saw active service in France with the 6 KSLI, not long after his arrival he was punished in the field  for losing his kit. He was severely wounded on the 16/8/17 (GSW Head and left leg ) he was sent home for treatment after a long spell  in Hospital , he was posted to the 3rd KSLI who were in Ireland at the time , my man is reported to have deserted on the 1st March 1918.   He then tried to re-enlist  under another name into the same regiment.

 

Then on the 14/11/18 he was tried by GCM on three counts 

 

1/ WOAS Deserting his Majesty's service.

2/ Losing by neglect his clothing and regimental necessities (as listed above).

3/ Fraudulent enlistment .

Given 6 months imprisonment with Hard Labour,  then on the 9/12/18 the Judge advocates general stated that Nos 1 and 3 charges cannot  stand and these charges and all record of to be removed from my mans service papers and released, he was then sent back to France with the Labour Corps 

 

Now my Question is this, his attestation papers show that his British War and Victory Medal were forfeited, although his MIC does not show this (perhaps clerical error?) if 2 of 3 (no's 1 and 3) charges were dropped would his medals still be forfeited?

 

TIA  Phill Jones  

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Have you looked at the medal rolls?

Whilst the medals may not be shown as forfeited on his MIC the medals rolls

may show that the medals were forfeited

 

Ray

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Thanks for your reply Ray , yes checked the Medal Rolls , nothing is showing as Forfeited .

 

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Hello Phill

 

Since the charge of desertion was not sustained, it is quite possible that his medals would not have been forfeited. Incidentally, since he re-enlisted in the Army he could not be convicted of "deserting His Majesty's Service" which would imply a permanent intent to cease being a soldier. That ties in with the JAG's advice.

 

Ron

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Hi Ron , Thank you for your reply most helpful atb Phill

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With regard to the offence of loss of kit/clothing, he should not be punished twice for the same offence, so I would believe that the court martial offence of losing kit/clothing is a separate incident to that punished in France and probably occurred when he deserted.

 

I disagree with the idea that he could not be convicted of desertion if he had fraudulently enlisted. Desertion can also be committed by absenting yourself to avoid an onerous duty even though there is no intent to be permanently absent, eg deliberately reporting for duty late to avoid being on a draft or to miss a ship sailing, or absenting yourself from the from line to avoid being in an attack, but returning later to duty.

 

By fraudulently reenlisting in the same regiment would greatly increase the likelihood of being found out. I notice he had had a head wound and a long spell in hospital. Is it possible his actions were attributed by the Advocate General to confusion caused by the head wound and that was why the conviction was not upheld?

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