Discussion in 'Service Records' started by Smudger Jnr, Jul 10, 2009.

  1. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Mike L

    Just spotted this and remembered discussing it here:
    WWII Punishment for an NCO charged with drunkeness and affray whilst on leave

  2. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    Cheers Ron, I remember reading that a while ago and liked the original story about the Sgt flattening a couple of coppers then possibly getting his stripe back fairly quickly.
  3. cruisedub

    cruisedub Junior Member

    Thanks for all the reply's but I'm specifically interested in what might have happened to deserters after the end of hostilities . Particularly with regard to employment in both private sector or public service jobs. I'm trying to find out if deserters were barred from public sector jobs due to their conviction for desertion or if they faced discrimination in the private sector .
  4. Alan Allport

    Alan Allport Senior Member


    Admittedly it has been a while since I looked into this, but I can't remember OTTOMH any specific penalties suffered by deserters in postwar British civilian life - other, that is, than social opprobrium. But even then, opinions about desertion softened quickly after the war. By the late 1940s there was much support for a general amnesty for deserters who still remained at large, though (as I mentioned in a previous post) the authorities didn't finally act on this till 1953.

    Best, Alan
  5. canuck

    canuck Closed Account

    Thanks for that Diane. That helps provide some context to my grandfather's story and perhaps indicates that it was not all that uncommon. He was eventually found out and there is an Affidavit in his file to that effect, written by his mother. He was French Canadian, from Quebec, and re-enlisted using an Anglo-Saxon name, so that provides the only clue as to possible motivation. Given the times, being part of a French Catholic minority in a largely WASP organization may not have been all that enjoyable. My only guess is that he quietly joined the majority.
  6. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Just adding this for reference:

    A statement in relation to remission of sentences, made by PM in the House 14 Dec 44, so I would imagine that this and other similar references would be in Hansard
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2017
  7. jetson

    jetson Junior Member

    When I served in the fifties, it was not easy to distinguish between AWL and desertion. If an abscondee's uniform and equipment had been sold, he was under an assumed name or he had applied to join another service it was generally regarded to be proof of desertion. Otherwise he could always say he intended to return to his unit in due course wearing his uniform when it could be termed AWL. An "abseight" telegram was sent to the civ police nearest his home address after a few days to see if they could apprehend him and if not, the appropriate army records office was eventually notified on publication of a Part 2 Order. I once had to give evidence as Orderly Corporal against one of my mates who had gone on the run to spend his extension of service signing on bounty. He returned voluntarily sober and properly dressed after his three weeks holiday and I think he got 56 days in Colchester. As a former Jap POW on the Burma-Siam Railway, he said the prospect of incarceration there did not worry him one jot! I think before his final discharge from service on pension he had made Sergeant.
  8. Philip Reinders

    Philip Reinders Very Senior Member

    Going through RA war diary, coming axross the following:

    Mook, Netherlands 10 February 1945, Gunner Furness awaiting Court Martial (desertion) admitted to 5 FDS.

    Was this always death penalty in wartime?, or also jail sentence?
  9. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Merged you onto an existing thread, Philip. Some answers/suggestions above.
  10. Philip Reinders

    Philip Reinders Very Senior Member

    Thanks checking the topic
  11. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Desertion certainly was a problem, as it had been in WWI, actually. At times it got to be quite a worry, the Italian campaign being a case in point.

    Judging the extent of desertion is difficult, because the difference between AWL and desertion was a matter of intent and in many cases it was not easy for courts martial to determine the intent. In any case, AWL was easier to prove and I know that in the Australian Army men were often charged with AWL rather than desertion even though it was clear to all that they were in fact deserters. Cases of cowardice in action were never very numerous, and it also seems that many men who could have been charged with cowardice were charged with desertion because it was just easier for the courts to handle them that way.

    In the 50th Division, which I studied, the desertion rate appears to have been pretty low for most of the war but went up steeply in the last year--or it may be that authority was simply taking a harsher line and cracking down where they had been lenient previously. The 50th tried about 300 men during the Normandy campaign, and two-thirds of these were desertion cases. Sentences got harsher, too. In 1940-41, six to eight months was a common sentence, but by the last of the war three years penal servitude was the standard.

    Most deserters in Italy and Normandy were infantrymen, and it says a lot that they were willing to risk three years in a glasshouse rather than stay on the front line. British and Australian military prisons were very nasty places, and from what I can tell the picture you get in The Hill is pretty accurate.
  12. karencotty

    karencotty Junior Member

    Iv been doing some research into my family tree and I think the Irish guard who deserted to the merchant navy may hav been my great uncle. He died on the SS ceramic as a greaser in the MN, yet his picture listed as casualty shows him in Irish Guards uniform. Iv written off for a copy of his service record. But cld I ask where u got this info from so I cld investigate it further? His name was George Rice, born in Liverpool 1910, died 7/12/42.
  13. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Don't worry about that idea.
    I have been told the one I mentioned was from Belfast & died post-war.
  14. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

  15. karencotty

    karencotty Junior Member

    not to worry i dont think its the same gentleman - iv got another lead which seems to fall more in line with the information i have. Thanks for your interest.
  16. injection

    injection Member

    My Father served in North Africa and Italy. He was tried by FGCM and found guilty of desertion on 25/8/44 but continued to be needed to fight for 6 months. On 8/2/45 he arrived at Liverpool from Italy (Monte Cassino) He was imprisoned at Maidstone Kent on 27/2/45 but he was then discharged 11/5/45. I have a copy of his prison record but it does not say where he was discharged to. He then rejoined the reserves on 9/11/45.
    There is a gap of between 11/5/45 and 9/11/45 which I cannot account for. His prison records show he was discharged to Dart..... but I cannot read the rest of the writing. I have a feeling it may be Dartmoor. Would there have been a WT reserve camp there that he may have been sent to to retrain before joining the 19th Battalion and finally being posted to 305T camp in CMF
    Thankyou in advance
  17. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    This is a very odd case as he was found guilty of desertion on 25th August 44 - the day which started the Gothic Line

    Battles - so he deserted before then- NO deserter NEEDED to fight for six months as he would be in jail - then to be sent

    from Italy- the Monte Cassino is irrelevant - landing at Liverpool on 8th February '45 BUT only imprisoned on the 27th

    February is hardly likely - to be imprisioned for three months is also unlikely-then to REJOIN the reserves sounds like he was

    demobbed and PLACED on the ZT reserves on the 9th November also hardly likely that a deserter managed to rejoin the Army and sent

    Think we need to see his service record before we can help you

  18. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Just noting here some references to desertion in memos to Army Record Offices from this file WO 162/205


    Sub. No: 1006
    Subject: Application of ACI 968/43 - Personnel sentenced to Imprisonment in a Civil Prison or Detention in a Borstal Institution.

    1 . The following instructions are issued in amplification of Circular Instruction No. 962.

    2 . The provisions of the Circular Instruction will be applied with effect from 12 January 1944 and will not have retrospective effect.

    3 . There is no objection to the details of arrest, retention in civil custody and civil conviction being published in Record Office Part II Orders and entered on the man's documents as soon as they are known. He will, however, for all purposes continue to be regarded as a deserter until he is taken over by his unit on release from civil custody and will NOT be placed on the 'Y' List or on the Reserve, except where a deserter is subsequently sentenced to undergo Borstal treatment and instructions for relegation to the Reserve are received from the War Office under sub-para (e ) of the Circular Instruction.

    F.4 (B ) B.M. 2/9127 A.G.3C(R )


    Sub. No: 1052
    Subject: Absentees and Deserters in Eire.

    In the interests of economy it has been decide that the Nominal Roll of Absentees and Deserters in Eire, at present rendered quarterly in accordance with War Office letters B.M.MO8/234 (A.G.3 D ) dated 18 April 1941, and B.M./SF/99//3/2 (A.G.3A(R )) dated 24 June 1942, will in future be rendered yearly. Interim notifications of additions, deletions and amendments (or nil returns) will be rendered every quarter.

    The Nominal Roll rendered up to 31 January 1943 will be the complete roll for 1944, and only quarterly amendments etc will be rendered for the current year. Rolls and amendments thereto will, in future, be despatched to the War Office (MO8).

    The instructions contained in Circular Instructions Nos. 807 dated 15 August 1943 and 979 dated 25 January 1944 continue to be operative.

    110/Stats/1 A.G.1 (Records)


    Sub. No: 1053
    Subject: Absentees and Deserters.

    Ref pamphlet "Absentees and Deserters from Army Service 1942" as amended by Amdt. No. 1 dated February 1944.

    1 . Para 2 (g )
    War Office Circular Memorandum 110/Gen/6261 A.G.1 (Records) dated 7 October 1943 is still extent and the National Registration Number of soldiers who have been declared Deserters will continue to be given on the copy of A.F. B.124 which is forwarded to the Civil Police.

    2 . Para 8 (b ) (iv ).
    Copies of Part II or Part III Orders submitted as evidence and forwarded to the O.C. the static unit will continue to be certified as true copies by the Officer i/c a Division of the Record Office who had the custody of the Part II or Part III Order and is responsible to the Officer i/c Records for it, in accordance with Circular Instruction No. 523 dated 19 October 1942.

    The pamphlet will be further amended in due course to rectify these points.

    110/Gen/117 A.G.1 (Records)


    Sub. No: 1057
    Subject: Deserters - Return of - Notification to Commissioner of Police.

    1 . Ref Circular Instruction No. 585 dated 19 December 1942.

    2 . It has again been reported that some Officers i/c Records are still extremely lax in notifying the Commission of Police of deserters who have rejoined their units. In a recent check it was found that out of a hundred outstanding cases of deserters, 27 had rejoined their units, but no notification of this fact had been sent to the Commissioner of Police.

    3 . It is emphasised that such laxity may have a serious effect on the soldiers concerned. It is possible that the Civil Police might wrongfully arrest a soldier (or a discharged soldier) on some future occasion, when he is not in fact in a state of desertion, and this might lead to complications and a writ of Habeas Corpus.

    4 . Officers i/c Records will instate an immediate check to ascertain where notification of the return of a deserted has not been sent, and will notify the Commissioner of Metropolitan Police, New Scotland Yard, S.W.1 of all such cases.

    5 . Reports will be rendered to the War Office (A.G.1 Records) when this action is completed, stating the number of outstanding cases brought to light. Officers i/c Records will ensure at the same time to confirm that adequate arrangements have been made to ensure that the correct action is taken in future.

    110/Deserters/108 A.G.1 (Records)


    Sub. No: 1113
    Subject: Deserters - Return of - Notification to Commissioner of Police.

    1 . It has been brought to notice that some Officers i/c Records are forwarding to the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, for insertion in the supplement to the Police Gazette, particulars of deserters whose names have already appeared. This is unnecessary as once a soldier has been notified as a deserter, his name remains in the card index at Scotland Yard until information is received from the Officer i/c Records that he has rejoined his unit.

    2 . Notifications that soldiers have rejoined from desertion will, in future, be sent weekly in the form of a Nominal Roll to the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in order that the entry in the Supplement to the Police Gazette may be cancelled.

    110/Des/108 A.G.1 (Records)

  19. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD
  20. A-58

    A-58 Not so senior Member Patron

    Reading this thread reminded me of my dear old Uncle Pops, who got in a bit of a tight spot during the war. He got drafted by the Army Air Force in December of 1944 when he turned 18. Initially he was happy for he wanted to apply for pilot's training and fly whatever they issued him to fly. Turned out that his eyesight wasn't up to snuff to make the cut to be selected for the pilot program, so he got re-assigned to bombers and trained to be a tailgunner in a B-17. He wasn't very happy about this turn of events, so later during his training phase he and some pals went to New Orleans (they were in training at Keesler Army Airfield, near Biloxi, Mississippi) for a few beers in the French Quarter after they were released from duty on a Saturday afternoon. Well, the few beers that Saturday night turned into a three day drunk fest, and by Monday he was listed as AWOL by his unit. First Sergeant sent a couple of men from the outfit to find Uncle Pops, and when they caught up with him they informed him that Top was P.O'd at him and that he was in a heap of trouble when he got back. So Uncle Pops figured that he'd rather not go and face the wrath of a P. O'd Top Sergeant, coming off a three day drunk. So he staggered into the nearest Navy recruiting station and signed up, still piss drunk in the mangy, disheveled uniform that he'd been wearing for 3 days. The recruiters there told him to throw his uniform shirt away and get on the bus with the other recruits. So off he went, on a long bus ride to the USN recruit training depot in sunny Orlando, Florida. By the time he finished Navy basic training and got into his advanced training, the Krauts had given up. Then later on they dropped a couple of atomic bombs on the Japs and the war was over. He got transferred to the reserves and was given a one way bus ticket home to Kentwood, La. Back then during the war, it was totally legal for a serviceman to "re-assign himself" from one service to join another one. Manpower shortages were all around, and nobody asked questions when a volunteer walked into a recruiting station to enlist, even if they were wearing the uniform of another service.
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2017
    dbf likes this.

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