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

  1. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    After reading several books relating to the Italian Campaign, there are numerous cases of shellshock casualties.

    Also reported were numerous cases of Desertion for one reason or another, but no mention of consequences.

    Whilst recently looking through the 4th Recce Regt War Diaries I came across this page showing Three deserters and their punishment.

    Whilst I appreciate there are no specific circumstances given, does anyone know if this was a pretty standard punishment.


    Attached Files:

  2. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    Tom, That page has caused a bit of a mystery

    Captain WILLIAM THOMAS CRIGHTON-PASCOE wounded 31/8/44 died 20 January 1946

    Did he die of those wounds or was wounded later?

    And could this be the Wood J mentioned?

    4395242, 2nd Bn., Royal Northumberland Fusiliers
    who died age 21 on 11 July 1944
    Son of Charles and Elizabeth Wood, of Scarborough, Yorkshire.
    Remembered with honour

  3. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin


    Looking at the entry beneath Wood ie 2 NF attended, leads me to believe he was a Northumberland Fusilier.

    I have to leave now and will try and check the relevent diary page this weekend and get back to you if I find anything positive.

    As for Capt W.T. Crighton-Pascoe, it is hard to say. Again I will try to dig something out of the diaries.

  4. cruisedub

    cruisedub Junior Member

    Just wondering if desertion from the British Army was a problem during WW2 and if so what was the punishment for it , also wondering if a service member was convicted of desertion did they suffer any discrimination after the end of hostilities .
  5. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    Try your local library for the book " Mutiny at Salerno" by Saul David

    ISBN - 1-85753-146-9 - which will answer your question of how NOT to deal with

    Desertion- and Mutiny

  6. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Just to confirm, do you mean desertion or AWL? (Tom did I type it correctly this time! ;) )

    The difference between the two may have a lot to do with intention, or seems to be the interpretation of that / proof etc, so that someone could be convicted of desertion for a matter of days / weeks absence, whereas I know of a few cases of AWL involving several months. I also read in a unit war diary of deserters from Rep. of Ireland returning to their old unit upon mobilization at start of war... they seemed to have been welcomed back. A case of a man who went AWL for several months finished his training after time in military prison, and was subsequently promoted whilst on active service.

    There are files in the National Archives at Kew dealing with Courts Martial, though Drew would be best placed to explain them better than I. I gather the registers are difficult to search through, but you might get an idea of charges and sentences from those.

    Or, someone here might have a copy of the Regulations and could look punishments for you, but I'd imagine if found guilty it would be time in the glasshouse / hard labour.

    A mate of my father's got a Dishonourable Discharge post-hostilities. He wasn't treated badly by his mates, only by their association which could get quite snobby about such matters, despite some of them never having lifted a rifle in anger.
  7. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Another book recommendation:
    Sean Longden's 'To the Victor the Spoils'.
    Excellent and well-balanced summary of 'the other side' of a large Army on it's way from D-Day to VE Day.
    They weren't angels, they were ordinary men representing the full spectrum of society & human behaviour (something I find more interesting than the oft-encountered perception of godlike perfection).

    Looking in the Oxford Companion to the Second War:
    "More than 100,000 deserted from the British army in the course of the War.
    In May 1942 General Auchinleck, disturbed by the number of deserters during the Western desert campaigns, recommended the reintroduction of the death penalty, which was refused. One British divisional General, Maj-general James Elliot, remarked on the very high level of what he called battle absenteeism. This was higher than the numbers killed in certain actions and sometimes even higher than those wounded. 'It was at times', he wrote, 'common for some 20 men in a battalion to become Battle Absentees in a given section. About 400 men were battle absentees in the average division in 1943-4 in a period of about six months. When it is realised that these men came almost entirely from the rifle companies of Infantry battalions, the numbers became serious'."
    dbf likes this.
  8. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Sean Longden's 'To the Victor the Spoils'.


    I've been meaning to ask you -Does the author quote any sources/file ref numbers at the National Archives?
  9. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    It's well-referenced, and there's a separate section of 'WO' numbers in there, along with Interviews, letters & secondary sources..
    It'd be a bit of a struggle to go through and link each file to a specific subject in the text, but d'you fancy a scan of the raw list?
  10. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Yes please, it will be interesting to see if he has found anything I haven't. Especially the more serious offences.
  11. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    I am sure Di is right that 'desertion' and 'absent without leave' are effectively distinguished by whether the absence is intended to be permanent.
    I thought I had seen a thread here where that very point (and likely punishments) was discussed with a link to the relevant sections of Regulations (now Queens Regs but Kings Regs in WW2 and the relevant sections are apparently very similar).
    I have searched for the thread but can't find it at the moment.
  12. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    2 random sample images from registers Drew found at Kew.

    If you look at 4th and 5th entry these are the first for desertion, sentenced to H.L. (Hard Labour?), 2 years.

    There are more further down the page.

    [I see one man from my father's bn - breaking out of barracks, tut tut. :mellow: ]

    Attached Files:

  13. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Ref the Courts Martial Registers at the National Archives. There is a UK and Overseas section containing quite a few registers and list a wide variety of offences and punishments along with the usual entries you would expect: Name, Number, Unit, Plea etc.

    If I remember correctly I was quite surprised by some of the punishments for offences-Some sentences lasted well after the war were over (10-15 years). What Von Poop says about groups makes sense. You can see lists of 10 to 20 names of men from the same unit going AWL or Deserting at the same time. No doubt a case of it being discussed and eventually working up the 'courage' (for want of a better word) collectively to leave their unit.
  14. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Just looking through the pages Diane posted I see the 6th entry got 1 year Imprisoment for quitting or falling asleep at his post.
  15. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Mike, I just scrolled to the bottom of the page and ... there it was (I hope) amongst the 'similar threads'.

    When Did 'AWOL' Become 'Desertion'?

    Alan has supplied some stats in this other thread
    Desertion Rates during WW2
  16. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    In this instance, your wish is my command:
    View attachment 70209
    (And I've been dying for a legitimate reason to try controlling new wireless scanner with new phone... so, errr, cheers for that :unsure:. Yes... I'm quite sad.)

    Attached Files:

  17. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    Yep, that was the one Di. I keep forgetting about the 'similar threads' function, very useful.
  18. Alan Allport

    Alan Allport Senior Member

    The services were still hunting wartime deserters until as late as 1953, when there was a Coronation amnesty.

    Best, Alan
  19. canuck

    canuck Closed Account

    When I was finally able to acquire my grandfather's WW1 service records, I was shocked to find out that, after volunteering for military service, he had deserted from the army here in Canada. After doing so, he immediately volunteered, under an assumed name, for the navy. He served there, with some North Atlantic duty, for the remainder of the war. He was not punished and we have no idea what prompted his actions.
  20. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    I have two relatives, both volunteers, with similar stories Tim.
    One deserted a cavalry unit for another, under an assumed name, during WW1. He was informed on much later, C-M'd and by all accounts pardoned due to nature of his service and given his name back. Anyway, the facts bear out that he continued serving with the 2nd regiment participating in ceremonial duties, well into the 1930s.

    Another joined a Guards regiment very early on in the war, apparently hated it, and in his own name 'left' for the MN, sailing on Atlantic convoys.

    Given these examples, it could be a simple case of the first unit being 'not for them', Kenneally VC being another example. He actually applied for a transfer to his preferred regiment, but was refused, so he took another route assuming the identity of an Irish worker who had returned to Eire.

    I don't think any the worse of them, despite what some might stress about oaths upon attestation.

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