The FGCM of 8871 Private Harry Farr, 1/West Yorkshire Regiment

From the File WO 71/509 Held at TNA


2nd October 1916

No. 8871 Private Harry FARR

1st. Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment

Misbehaving before the enemy in such a manner as to show cowardice.




At* VILLE-SUR-ARCRE this first day of October, 1916

Whereas it appears to me, the undersigned, an officer in Command of 11th Infantry Brigade on active service, that the persons named in the annexed Schedule, and being subject to Military Law, have committed the offences in the said schedule mentioned.

And I am of opinion that it is not practicable that such offences should be tried by an ordinary General Court Martial:

I hereby convene a Field General Court Martial to try the said persons and to consist of the Officers hereunder named.


Lt. Col F. Spring 11th Essex Regiment


Captain J. Jones 2nd Durham Light Infantry

Lieutenant C.A.V. Newsome 14th Durham Light Infantry

(Signed)M. Midgford

Brigadier General

Commanding 18th Infantry Brigade





1st Witness

No. 7284 RSM H. Laking 1/W.Yorks Regiment duly sworn states:

On 17th September 1916 about 9am the accused reported himself to me at the Transport lines. he stated that he was sick and had fallen out from his Company the night previous on the march up to the trenches. He stated he could not find his Company Commander for permission to fall out. I ordered him to report sick at the Dressing Station. When he returned he states they would not see him as he was not wounded. I then ordered him to proceed up to the battalion with the ration party which was going in the evening. The ration party paraded about 8pm. The accused was found and marched off with it. On arrival at the ration trench Q.M.S Booth reported to me that the accused was missing. On returning to the Transport Line at about 11pm I saw the accused standing near a brazier. I asked him why he was there. He replied “ I cannot stand it”. I asked him what he meant and he again replied “I cannot stand it”. I told him he would have to go to the trenches that night. He replied “I cannot”. I ordered Company Q.S.M Booth to take him up to the trenches under escort.

After going 500 yards the accused commenced to scream and struggle with his escort. I again warned him that he would have to go to the trenches or be tried for cowardice. He replied “I am not fit to be in the trenches”. I then said I would take him to see a Medical Officer. He refused to go saying “I will not go any further that way”. I ordered the escort to take him on. The accused again started struggling and screaming. I ordered the escort to leave him alone when he jumped up and ran back to the Transport Line. I placed him in the charge of a guard at the Transport.

2nd Witness

No. 7846 Coy. Q.M.S J.W Booth 1/W. Yorks Regiment sworn states:

On 17th September 1916 about 3 pm I warned the accused to parade with the carrying party at 6pm to go up and join his Company in the trenches. The accused paraded and marched off with the ration party. On arrival at the ration dump the accused was absent having fallen out on the way up without permission. About 9pm I saw the accused near the 1st Line of Transport. The RSM ordered us to take the accused up under escort to the trenches. About 500 yards from the 1st line transport the accused became violent and threatened the escort and eventually broke away returning to the Transport Line. The RSM ordered me to place the accused in the charge of a guard.

3rd Witness

No. 6385 Pte. D Farrar, 1st West Yorks Regt. sworn states:

On 17th Sept 1916 about 11.30pm I was ordered by Coy. QSM Booth to form part of an escort to take the accused up to his Company in the trenches. After going about 500 yards the accused started struggling and saying he wants to see a Doctor. The Sgt. Major said he would see one when he got a bit further up. The accused refused to go any further. I tried to pull him along. The Srgt. Major told me to let go and the accused then went back to the 1st Line Transport.

4th Witness

No. 8120 L. Cpl W. Form 1/W.Yorks Regt. sworn states:

On 17th September 1916 about 11.30pm I was detailed by QMS Booth to command an escort to take the accused up to the trenches. After going 500 yards the accused became violent and started shouting and eventually broke away from the escort. We followed him and found him and found him at the 1st Line Transport. The RSM then ordered me to be in charge of a guard over the accused.



1st witness

The Accused.

No. 8871 Private H. Farr 1/W.Yorks Rgt. sworn states:

On 16th September 1916 when going up to the trenches with my Company I fell out sick. I could not find the C.O to obtain permission. I went back to the 1st Line Transport arriving there about 2am on 17th September. I would have reported to the RSM only I was told he was asleep. I reported about 9am. The RSM told me to go the Dressing Station. They however would not see me there as I was not wounded. The Sgt. Major told me to go up with the ration party that night. 

I started with this party and later fell out sick. I could not get permission as I was in the rear  of the party not in front so left word with a Private Soldier.

I returned to the 1st Line Transport looking to report sick to some Medical oOficer. On the Sgt. Major’s return I reported to him and said I was sick and could not stand it. He then said “You are a fucking coward and will go to the trenches. I give fuck all for my life and I give fuck all for yours and I’ll get you fucking well shot”. 

The Sgt. Major, QSM Booth and Pte. Farrar then took me up towards the trenches. We went about a mile when we met a carrying party returning under L.Cpl FORM. The RSM asked L.Cpl FORM where I was and he replied “Run away, same as he did last night”. The Sgt. Major then told L.Cpl FORM to fall out and take me up to the trenches. 

They commenced to shove me and I told them not to as I was sick enough as it was. The Sgt. Major then grabbed my rifle and said “I’ll blow your fucking brains out if you don’t go” 

I then called out for an officer but then I was tripped up and commenced to struggle. After this I do not know what happened until I found myself back in the 1st line Transport under a guard. If the escort had not started to shove me about I would have gone up to the trenches. It was on account of their doing that I started to struggle.

Cross-examined by the Prosecutor

Q. Did you have an opportunity of reporting sick between 16th Sept and 25th October?

A. After I was put under arrest on 18th September

Questioned by the Court

Q. Why did you not report sick after 18th September up to present date?

A. Because being away from shell fire I felt better.

2nd Witness

No. 9234 Sgt. J Andrews 1/West Yorks Regt sworn states:

The accused reported sick with nerves about April 1916. The Medical Officer retained him for a fortnight in the dressing station. He reported again for the same cause on 22.7.16 and was retained for the day, being discharged to duty the following day.

The Medical Officer who saw him has been wounded.


1st Witness

Lt. W. Paul ‘A’ Coy. 1st W. Yorks Rgt sworn states:

I produce A.F.B.122 and a copy of the same. The accused has 6 years service of which 1 year and 11 months has been spent in France.

2nd Witness

2/Lt. L.P Marshall 1st West Yorks Regt. duly sworn states:

I have known the accused for the last six weeks. On working parties he has three times asked for leave to fall out and return to camp as he could not stand the noise of the artillery. He was trembling and did not appear in a fit state.



Offence: Overstaying his pass from 12 midnight until 7.30pm 3-11-14

Punishment: 10 Days Confined to Barracks, forfeits 3 days pay.




Name of Alleged offender (a):

No. 8871 Private Harry FARR 1st. Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment

Offence Charged:

Misbehaving before the enemy in such a manner as to show cowardice.


Not Guilty

Finding, and if Convicted, Sentence (b):

GUILTY. To suffer DEATH by being shot.

(Signed) Lt. Col F. Spring 11th Essex Regiment

President FGCM





H.Q 6th Division

I consider this is a case where the sentence should be carried out.

(Signed) M. Midgford

Commanding 18th Bde.




14th Corps

I recommend that the extreme penalty be enforced.

(Signed) Charles Ross Maj. Gen

Commanding 6th Division




4th Army

The charge of cowardice seems to be clearly proved and the Sergt. Major’s opinion of the man is definitely bad to say the least of it.

The G.O.C of 6th Div informs me that the men know the man is no good.

I therefore recommend that the sentence be carried out.

(Signed) Cavan Lieut-General

Commanding 14th Corps



This man came out with the 2nd Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment 5.11.14 and was sent down to the base with shell shock 9.5.15He joined the 1st Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment on 20.10.15 and has remained constantly with it until his trial by FGCM.

I cannot say what has destroyed this man’s nerves but he has proved himself on many occasions incapable of keeping his head in action and likely to cause a panic.

Apart from his behaviour under fire his conduct and character are very good.

(Signed) A. Mostow [?] Captain

O.C  A. Company

1/West York Regt.

In the field




I hereby certify that I examined 8871 Pte. H. Farr on October 2nd 1916 and that in my opinion both his general physique and mental condition were satisfactory.

(Signed) W. Williams

M.O 1st West Yorks



To 6th Division

Forwarded reports attached. Battalion C.O is new and does not know the man’s previous mind.

(Signed) M. Midgford  Brig.Gen

Commanding 18th Infantry Brigade




General Headquarters

I recommend that the sentence be carried out.

(Signed) H. Rawlinson


Commanding Fourth Army




(Signed) D. Haig Gen.

14 Oct : 16



General Officer Commanding

Fourth Army ‘A’

In confirmation of my telegram No. A(b) 1912 of today. please note that the C. in C. has confirmed that the sentence in the case of No. 8871 Private Harry FARR 1st. Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment. Please return the proceedings direct to this office after promulgation .

(Signed) H. Jameson

Adjutant General





I certify that No. 8871 Private HARRY FARR of 1st Battalion, West Yorkshire regiment was executed by shooting at 6 a.m. on 18th October, 1916, at CARNOY

Death was instantaneous.

(Signed) A. Anderson Captain RAMC


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