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Remembered Today:

Who made the decision?


squirrel
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The posts currently running on pardons for SAD cases and a couple of other threads have agitated my mind somewhat regarding who was responsible for deciding what charge would be brought against a soldier and whether the charge would be dealt with at company, battalion or higher level.

My understanding of the scenario would be that the individual would be charged under the relevant section(s)of King's Regulations, and tried under the rules laid down in The Manual of Military Law and the Army Act in force at the time for a Court Martial.

It is also my understanding that each offence would have a particular scale of punishment and that which ever charge was applied, in the case of a Court Martial, the punishment would already be known to whover decided upon the charge and in some cases, the one being charged.

If this is the case, then Courts Martial would not be in a position to decide on a punishment as it would already be laid down if a guilty verdict was arrived at.

Now, have I got this about right, is it more complex or something completely different?

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The posts currently running on pardons for SAD cases and a couple of other threads have agitated my mind somewhat regarding who was responsible for deciding what charge would be brought against a soldier and whether the charge would be dealt with at company, battalion or higher level.

..............

If this is the case, then Courts Martial would not be in a position to decide on a punishment as it would already be laid down if a guilty verdict was arrived at.

Now, have I got this about right, is it more complex or something completely different?

You are making points which I have also made at various times. The charges of cowardice, casting away arms desertion in the face of the enemy etc would be made initially by an NCO or line officer who would have witnessed the offence or had it drawn to his attention more or less on the spot. The decision as to what charges to make and to take it to a court-martial would be made by the C.O. and /or adjutant.

Not only would the penalties for the charges be fixed, all soldiers , on their way to the theatre of war, were paraded and specifically warned that they were now liable to specific charges and what the penalties were if found guilty. e.g. the difference between deserting at home and deserting on active service would be pointed out and the fact that you could be shot, underlined.

A court-martial could only arrive at its verdict on the strength of the evidence presented. A recommendation for leniency could be made. Then the system of reviews began and ended, in the case of a death sentence, with the CIC.

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The nature of the charge determined whether a soldier was brought before OC company, or CO, or FGCM. A soldier also had the absolute right to decline to be judged at the two lower levels. The penalties for the 'death' sentences were [from memory] mandatory if the FGCM was unanimous, but subject to review right up to the GOCinC. No right of appeal, but a right to 'redress of wrongs' again to CinC. Also an absolute right to insist on not accepting President of FGCM. This subject to review when I get MML1914 off the shelf.

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Thanks for that. The point I was trying to get an understanding of, albeit in a somewhat lengthy manner, was that the C.O. and/or Adjutant would know the ramifications of the punishment when deciding on what charge to bring.

The other point was how the degree of seriousness of the charge was decided but presumably, this would depend on the offence and whether it happened in action, behind the lines etc.

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Dr Dunn, RMO 2nd RWF, a 'hard-****' if ever there was one. but this is what he wrote in 'The War the Infantry Knew':

'...... plainly no action whatever is to be taken against our habitual deserter, clear as is the evidence of wilfulness if it were offered. And yet, what use? To gratify a mawkish humanitarianism two or three score mean fellows are encouraged to slip away every time there is a risk to their skins, so more and more the average men learn to shirk with impunity; attacks fail, and losses run into untold thousands, because the most dutiful of our men are not backed up'.

This should be required reading, a powerful statement of DUTY in a nation at war fighting for its survival. You don't need to agree with him, but you do need to consider his point of view.

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MML1914 is painstaking in defining the difference [vital in every sense] between desertion and awol, giving examples of each such that the dimmest subaltern could tell them apart.
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Thanks again for this.

So basically, everyone was made aware of the definitions and consequences and a defined procedure was in place and used.

Whether it was applied in every case, as your example shows, is another matter.

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Squirrel,

Also see;-

http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A944363

Graham.

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