AWOL: Army Act 1881 - Section 15(1)

Discussion in 'Service Records' started by beckic35, Jan 9, 2016.

  1. beckic35

    beckic35 Member


    I am new here, but really hoping to find some help and advice :)

    I have recently acquired my grandfathers service record. In 1941 he was absent without leave for 3 days and 11 hours, being docked 4 days pay under "Sec 15(1) AA"

    I am guessing this is section 15(1) of the Army Act of 1881(?), but I cannot find the text or wording of this anywhere

    Any help anyone could give would be extremely welcome.

  2. chrisgrove

    chrisgrove Senior Member

    Hi Rebecca

    I am only (a bit) familiar with the Army Act 1955. I assume that older ones were remotely similar, Sec 15(1) would refer to the charge, I think - that being the Section of the Army Act referring to being absent without leave. Certainly in the 1955 Act, the precise wording of the charge under each section was laid down in some detail..The punishment he was awarded would depend on the officer awarding it, though who was legally entitled to do so, and the maximum penalty are probably laid down elsewher in the Act. Certainly in more recent times, a soldier was not paid for days when he was absent without leave; this is purely an administrative arrangement (seems logical) and not part of the punishment, though it may well have seemed like that to the miscreant!

  3. BrianM59

    BrianM59 Senior Member

    WW1 forums list section 15(1) as 'Being absent without leave'.

    From the Manual of Military Law 1905 (I think - therefore covering the Army Act 1881)

    Dealing with punishment for offences under section 15 (I searched for 'absent without leave' - 
    it's not the best laid out archive and is probably a download via a text editor/OCR software 
    of some sort  I'm afraid.)
    "If the finding on any charge is " Guilty," then, for the Procedure 
    guidance of the court in determining their sentence, and of the " fo- 
    confirming authority in considering the sentence, the court, before 
    deliberating on their sentence, may take evidence of and record the 
    [character, age, service, rank, and any recognized acts of gallantry 
    lor distinguished conduct, of the accused, and the length of time 
    he has been in arrest or in confinement on any previous sentence, 
    and any deferred pay, military decoration, or military reward, of 
    which he may be in possession or to which he is entitled, and which 
    the court can sentence him to forfeit. 
    (B) Evidence on the above matters may be given by a witness 
    verifying a statement which contains a summary of the entries in 
    the regimental books respecting the accused person, and identifying 
    the accused as the person referred to iu that summary. 
    (c) Evidence on the part of the prosecutor upon the above 
    matters should not be given by a member of the court. 
    (D) The accused may cross-examine any such witness, and may call 
    witnesses to rebut any such evidence ; and if the accused so requests, 
    the regimental books, or a duly certified copy of the material entries 
    (M.L.) 2 H 2 
    therein, shall be produced ; and if the accused alleges that the 
    summary is in any respect not in accordance with the regimental 
    books, or such certified copy, as the case may be, the court shall 
    compare the summary with those books or copy, and if they find 
    it is not in accordance therewith, shall caxise the summary to be 
    corrected accordingly. 
    When all the evidence on the above matters has been given, the 
    accused may address the court thereon. 
    (E) If by reason of the nature of the service of the accused in a 
    departmental corps, or otherwise, the finding of the court renders 
    him liable to any exceptional punishment in addition to that to be 
    awarded by the sentence of the court, it will be the duty of the 
    prosecutor to call the attention of the court to the fact, and it will 
    be the duty of the court to enquire into the nature and amount of 
    such additional punishment. 
    (A) For Form see Appendix II, Form of Proceedings, para. (12), p. 573. 
    The court will always take evidence as to character, unless the circum- 
    stances render it impracticable so to- do, in which case they will record 
    the reasons for such impracticability in the proceedings. 
    It must be recollected that it is not competent for the court to take verbal 
    evidence of the accused being a bad character. The badness of his character 
    must be proved by former convictions and entries in the conduct book, 
    and not by the expression of any opinion to that effect by witnesses, although 
    such opinion is admissible as evidence of good character. However, if 
    the accused calls evidence of good character, the prosecutor may cross- 
    examine those witnesses, with a view to test their veracity, and thereby 
    indirectly bring out evidence of bad character. If the accused himself gives 
    evidence, the prosecutor may in such cases cross-examine him as to character 
    (see Rule 80 and note). 
    Witnesses in favour of the character of the accused will be called, as a rule, 
    either as part of his defence, or after his address and before the finding; 
    but under this rule (D) may be called to rebut the evidence given by the 
    prosecute rafter the finding. 
    In cases of alleged desertion, the fact of the accused having surrendered 
    or been apprehended should not be left until after the finding; it is one 
    of the material facts of the case, and as such ought to be proved by the 
    prosecutor; it may have some bearing on the question of whether the accused 
    intended or not to return. 
    The court will not, when the accused belongs to the regular forces, take 
    evidence of any conviction while he was a civilian. But convictions by a 
    civil court while the accused is a soldier may be given in evidence 
    although the offence was committed while he was in a state of absence or 
    desertion. (K.E., para. 553.) 
    Evidence of expenses, loss, damage, or destruction will be taken in 
    the course of the trial, as Eule 11 (F) provides that the facts justifying any 
    deduction from pay are to be stated in the particulars. In case such 
    evidence has not been taken, there is nothing to prevent the court taking 
    it after the finding, if necessary. In case of damage caused by an offence, 
    the cause and effect must be closely related in order to warrant a sentence 
    of stoppages. Thus an accused person would not for this purpose be said 
    to have caused damage to a military policeman's clothes because the police- 
    man fell down and damaged them, while in pursuit of the accused when 
    endeavouring to escape. 
    If two or more persons are convicted of a joint offence, each of them 
    may be ordered to pay the whole amount of the compensation for any ex- 
    penses, loss, damage, or destruction occasioned by that offence. Each, of 
    them is liable to pay the whole compensation in default of the other. If 
    both contribute to the payment, proviso (b) to s. 138 of the Army Act (see 
    note) will prevent either of them being charged with an undue amount, as 
    that proviso forbids deductions more than sufficient to make good the com- 
    "Military decoration" is defined by the Army Act, s. 190 (18), to mean 
    any medal, clasp, good conduct badge, or decoration; and "military reward" 
    is defined (s. 190 (19)) to mean any gratuity or annuity or long service 
    or good conduct, and also to include any good conduct pay or pension, or 
    any other military pecuniary reward. 
    Finding and Sentence. 485 
    Can sentence him to forfeit. See Army Act, s. 44 (11) (12). The court 
    canaot take evidence with respect to any decoration of which the court can- 
    uot order the forfeiture, as, for example, the Companionship of the Bath or 
    the Victoria Cross. The object of taking this evidence and evidence of the 
    rank of the accused is for the purpose of enabling the sentence to be 
    awarded correctly. See .Rule 47. 
    (B) Regimental bnoks. A statement containing a summary of the entries 
    against the name of the accused in those books, with a statement as to his age, 
    service, rank, c., is to be produced, and verified by a, witness as being cor- 
    rectly extracted from the regimental books ; a witness must also identify the 
    accused as being the person referred to in such statement. This witness 
    should usually be the adjutant or some other officer. There is nothing to 
    prevent the prosecutor being the witness, and the remarks in the note to 
    Kule 39 (C) do not apply. The prosecutor must, however, be sworn like any 
    other witness ; it is not sufficient that he should have, been sworn as a 
    witness before the same court on the same day in the course of the trial of 
    some ether person. If the accused challenges the correctness of the state- 
    ment, the regimental books, or a duly certified copy thereof, must be produced, 
    and the court must compare the statement with the books. See (D). 
    (D) The accused is entitled to give evidence himself to rebut the evidence 
    given by the witnesses of the prosecution as to his character ; but if he does 
    so, he will render himself liable to be cross-examined as to character. See 
    Kule 80 and note. 
    Duty certified copy. This means a copy certified as provided by the Army 
    Act, s. 163 (rt), by the officer having the custody of the book. 
    Any previous convictions of the accused may be proved by the production 
    of a verbatim extract from the regimental books, certified by the officer in 
    charge of those books (Army Act, s. 163 (#), K.K., paras. 1916-1921). But 
    j a conviction by a civil court may be proved by the production of a cer 
    tificate (Army Act, s. 164) of the conviction, and must be so proved if there 
    is reason to doubt the correctness of the entry of the conviction in the regi- 
    mental books. A witness must always be called to prove the identity of the 
    accused with the person stated in the extract or certificate to have been 
    The witness producing the statement referred to in (B) and identifying 
    the accused should bo the adjutant or some other officer, and the witness 
    limy be cross-examined by the accused. 
    (E) Exceptional punishment. This means ,-mch punishment as forfeiture of 
    corps pay (see Pay Warrant, 1907. arts. 789, 790), or prolongation of the term 
    of service in the case of militiamen (see Militia Act, 1882, s. 27 (c)). 
    47. Where the court desire to sentence an officer, or a non- Mode of 
    commissioned officer, to forfeit seniority of rank, they may sentence semority g of 
    him to take rank and precedence in his corps, or in the army, rank of 
    . or in both, as if his appointment to the rank or ranks held by him, officer or 
    I and specified in the sentence, bore the date of some day or days missioned 
    specified in the sentence, and later than the actual date of his said officer, 
    appointment. "
  4. Maureene

    Maureene Well-Known Member

    BrianM59 likes this.
  5. BrianM59

    BrianM59 Senior Member

    Thanks Maureen, knew there must be a better version somewhere.
  6. beckic35

    beckic35 Member

    Amazing amount of information from everyone
    Thank you all :)
  7. GnrGnr

    GnrGnr Well-Known Member

    The punishment noted for an AWOL spell of a couple of days in Oct 44 was

    Deprived of 14 days pay by CO on (date) and forfeits 3 days pay by Royal Warrant. Did he lose 17 days in total, why "deprived 14" and "forfeits 3" - what is the difference - is this something to do with commanders powers? Grateful for enlightenment.
  8. RCG

    RCG Senior Member, Deceased

    According to Ron here, yes the two were added together, still looking for the difference.
    I lost a total of 8 days pay......
    Is there no justice in this world ?

    19/6/43 Ron: Deprived 7 days pay and forfeits 1 days pay for being AWOL for 7 hrs 35 mtes
    My Army records ? While I am here to explain
  9. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    You know, 73 years after the event in question, I still feel the injustice of my sentence !

    Having said that, one side of me is amused that my Grandkids might think that their Grandad was not always such a goody-goody :)

    Last edited: Dec 14, 2016
  10. GnrGnr

    GnrGnr Well-Known Member

    Splendid Ron, too late I suppose for an apology on behalf of the Gunners?

    Thanks RCG - the difference is intriguing.
  11. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    The " Royal Warrant for the Pay, etc., of the Army" in the latest edition contains the detailed provisions. There were numerous Royal Warrants or Army Orders issued from time to time and which would be read in conjunction with the Army Act.

    "Forfeits" is alluded to in the extract from Hansard ( from the Hansard Millbank website ) attached.

    "Deprives" refers to the punishment for the offence.

    Absence (Pay Forfeiture)
    HC Deb 16 April 1946 vol 421 c423W
    Mr. Boyd-Carpenter asked the Secretary of State for War what authority exists for the stoppage of pay and allowances to a soldier believed to be absent without leave prior to the holding of a court of inquiry under Section 72 of the Army Act.
    Mr. Lawson: Section 138 (1) of the Army Act provides for the forfeiture of all ordinary pay for every day of absence either on desertion or without leave. A soldier absent from his place of duty without permission and for no ascertained reason is unable to receive his pay while absent. If he subsequently returns or is apprehended and is convicted of desertion or of absence without leave his pay for the period of absence is forfeited under the above quoted section. The suspension of family allowance after seven days' absence is made under the authority of the Royal Warrant (Paragraph 7 of the Schedule to the Royal Warrant promulgated as Army Order 135 of 1943). "
    dbf likes this.
  12. GnrGnr

    GnrGnr Well-Known Member

    Thank you, that clarifies the 3 days forfeiture (for the nearly 3 days absence). Doesn't seem to explain the 14 days "deprived" element though??
  13. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    He's been fined a fortnight's pay as punishment, on top of the 3 days' for which he was automatically ineligible having been absent.
  14. GnrGnr

    GnrGnr Well-Known Member

    That is clear and is obviously what papiermache was alluding to, bit slow on the uptake yesterday!

    Thank you both.
  15. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Adding a bit here from what I remember my father saying about the procedure of CO's orders from personal experience. Men were escorted - often double time - to CO's office and, if there happened to be a queue that morning, they'd await their turn to be marched in before the CO. After the charge was read out, any mitigating circumstances explained (or not, some soldiers might declare they'd nothing to say) and the punishment then decided upon, the soldier would be given the opportunity to accept the CO's decision or, to have the matter taken to a Court Martial.

    I'd imagine most accepted their punishment, this case in particular being a relatively routine affair.

    (I've heard of one case when a Warrant Officer was charged with refusing an order from a superior officer. He elected to go to C-M and the charge was dismissed. Apparently it came to light during the proceedings that the superior officer had himself broken KRs during the incident.)
  16. GnrGnr

    GnrGnr Well-Known Member

    My one and only personal experience of the process was for about 12 hours absence (missed the last train!). Just before he marched me in, my BSM whispered that I should tell the BC my Mum was ill and I had stayed home to make sure she was OK. Charge dismissed, rewarded 18 years later with my LSGC medal!
    Owen and dbf like this.
  17. redtop

    redtop Well-Known Member

    Here is one I made earlier

    Attached Files:

    GnrGnr and dbf like this.

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