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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Deserted To See His Dead Child


Jarvis

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The following clipping is taken from the local newspaper archives dated December 30th 1914.

Thought I would share it with the Forum.

I have thought about this story for some time this morning.

What would you have done in these circumstances ?

Just one of the many sides to the Great War.

post-15884-1172400775.jpg

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Oh, what torment for that man. To be accused of desertion because he wanted to see his dying child.

Nothing, and I mean, nothing, would keep me from my child.

Kim

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An extremely sad story. I am not sure what you mean when you ask what would I have done. If I was the magistrate, I would have done what he did, he was a lay person and bound to take advice from the clerk who knew the legal position. As a regular with some service, the soldier would have been aware of other similar sad events during his service and the procedure he was meant to follow.

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An extremely sad story. I am not sure what you mean when you ask what would I have done. If I was the magistrate, I would have done what he did, he was a lay person and bound to take advice from the clerk who knew the legal position. As a regular with some service, the soldier would have been aware of other similar sad events during his service and the procedure he was meant to follow.

I have thought about this from several angles but the strangest line in the clipping is

An escort was sent, but it did not turn up; it had deserted Ironic ?

Jarvis

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I wonder what his ultimate military punishment was and how rigorously it was enforced - his greatest punishment was the refusal of permission to attend the funeral. A sad story. He does not seem to have become a casualty according to a quick look at CWGC.

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If they knew the circumstances, then they were making a comment with their actions.

Kim

There is a good chance that they would know why he had deserted, they would have been from his unit. I'd like to know more about the situation in this unit. On the face of it, this is a classic example of very bad morale. An escort would generally be an NCO and a private, RPs if available. Men who would normally carry out a duty like this without batting an eyelid. When caught themselves, there is a good chance that their punishment would be much more severe than his. He would be able to plead extenuating circumstances to a charge of desertion. Their charge would be dereliction of duty. Incidentally, if he was indeed a deserter and not absent without leave, then he had been on the run for a good while.

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Would this be a case of AWOL rather than desertion?

The 5th Middlesex was a reserve home Battalion based at Mill Hill and just a stone's throw from Highgate.

Thomas obviuosly went on to serve through the war.

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documen...p;resultcount=1

Regards

Mel

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If it was put down as anything other than AWOL, then they were heartless so and so's.

Interesting point Tom. But did the paper understand desertion vs just not turning up to escort him.

Kim

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If it was put down as anything other than AWOL, then they were heartless so and so's.

Interesting point Tom. But did the paper understand desertion vs just not turning up to escort him.

Kim

It is a matter of time Kim. I don't know about GW times but when I was in, I think it was about 4 weeks AWOL and then you were a deserter. AWOL could be dealt with locally, a deserter was court martialed. AWOL could be loss of wages and couple of weeks in guard room, deserters went to military prison. Not at all nice places. All that at home of course. Once you went to France, it was a whole different kettle of fish.

I don't wish to sound heartless but for a regular soldier in the ranks, when he was posted abroad to India for instance, he would leave his wife and family behind for several years. Infant mortality being what it was, there would have been many cases of a child being dead and buried long before a man found out. It was one of the hazards of being a soldier.

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I think the paper in question (Teesdale Mercury local to Barnard Castle and extremely provincial) would almost certainly have bought the report from a larger (Fleet Street ?) newspaper.

The local headline when using the word Deserter is simply echoing the first lines of the report itself :

'At Highgate Police Court, Thomas Rule, fourty eight, was charged with being a deserter from the 5th Middlesex regiment.'

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I an wracking my brain here for how it all worked. Someone with the regs will be able to put me right but I think AWOL would have been held at Police Cells until escort arrived to remove him. Desertion was a civil offence and was tried at magistrates then held for military authorities to arrest. It looks as though he was a deserter so had been absent from duty for some time.

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"Manual of Military Law (1914)"

'To establish desertion it is necessary to prove some circumstances justifying the inference that the accused intended not to return to military duty in any corps, or intended to avoid some important particular service, such as active service, embarkation for service abroad or service in the aid of the civil power.'

The distinction is 'intention'.

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"Manual of Military Law (1914)"

'To establish desertion it is necessary to prove some circumstances justifying the inference that the accused intended not to return to military duty in any corps, or intended to avoid some important particular service, such as active service, embarkation for service abroad or service in the aid of the civil power.'

The distinction is 'intention'.

In the Irish Army, a soldier who left his unit without permission, overstayed his leave, could be charged with "Being Absent Without Leave".

Most Irish Military Regulations (The Defence Force Acts) we taken from the British Military Regulations.

Unless he, (the absentee) stated to somebody (who later made it known to the Military Police in a signed and written statement) that he, (the absentee) said he was going and never coming back, he could not be charged with being a deseter.

I knew a case of a guy who was gone for three years, the charge was only listed as "Absent without Leave"

He got fined and 24 days in Spike Island Military Prison in County Cork. :blink:

Connaught Stranger. :D

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I'd do the same. What punishment, in 1914, could be given that was worse than what had just happened? The magistrate clearly had sympathy, and quite possibly the first escort too. With regard to AWOL or desertion, the first escort are classed as deserting when they are presumably just a day or two overdue. The usual journalistic licence...

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To add to Truthergw, post 11, hazards of being a soldier. I ran a thread, Labour corps regarding my grandfather who was posted to France in July 1916. His son, my uncle Edward died of diphtheria in Plaistow Fever Hospital on 20 October 1917. I have the undertakes invoice and all correspondence is addressed to my gradmother. So not only did he have to suffer the raveges of the trenches but he had to mourn alone. Just as a matter of interest the invoice reads.

Edward Charles Noble who died 20th October 1917 aged 7 1/2 years.

To supplying a stout elm coffin oak moulded french polished lined bed pillow ruffle & slips & fitted with brass plates & handles caps on sides lid 2 lid ornaments & plate of inscription. Use of Glassette mourning carriage drawn by pair of horses velvets on horses couchinan & bearers with proper fittings cash Paid fees to West Ham Cemetery Personal Attendance £ 4-16-0

Reg Butler

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Reminds me a little of a story in the local newspaper recently about a local D-Day Para who had just died well into his 80s. To paraphrase...

His unit had been training for D-Day in the north of England and he had been informed that his first child had just been born in Coseley (nr Wolverhampton) but permission to visit was denied. The unit was being flown down to the south of England just before D-Day with the real possibility of not coming back. As the plane was over the Midlands, being a para, he threw himself out of the plane, parachuted down safely, and made his way home.

The local constabulary were waiting for him, but he made it clear there was an easy way and a hard way to do this as he was armed. The police gave him 30 minutes with his wife and child and then he went back to his unit.

This seemed to be hushed-up as he was parachuting into Normandy just a few days later. The story went that he was possibly the first officer to land - but family stories are sometimes inaccurate.

Happy ending as he survived the war and lived until January 2007.

Andy

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"Manual of Military Law (1914)"

'To establish desertion it is necessary to prove some circumstances justifying the inference that the accused intended not to return to military duty in any corps, or intended to avoid some important particular service, such as active service, embarkation for service abroad or service in the aid of the civil power.'

The distinction is 'intention'.

Hi Ian. Could a certain time absent without leave not be interpreted as demonstrating intention?

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