Abigail, Private John 9504, 8th Bn. Norfolk Regt.

THE CHARGE

Name of Alleged Offender (a)

No.9504 Pte. J.H Abigail 8th Bn. Norfolk Regt.

Offence Charged:

Section 12 (1a) of the Army Act 1881

When on active Service deserting his Majesty’s Service in that he in the field on the 30th July 1917, absented himself from his Battalion after having been warned for the trenches and remained absent until apprehended without arms or equipment by the Military Police in a town behind the lines at about 4.30pm on 2nd August 1917.

(Signed) H.W Higginson Brigadier

Commanding 52nd Infantry Brigade.

Form for Assembly and proceedings of Field General Court Martial on Active Service.

 PROCEEDINGS

At* On Active Service this 22nd day of August, 1917

Whereas it appears to me, the undersigned, an officer in Command of an 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.

President

Lt. Col G.V.W Hill DSO 8th Suffolk Regiment

Members

Capt. J.N Richardson MC 6th Royal Berks Regt.

2/Lt A.S Whiting 10th Essex Regiment

(Signed) H.W Higginson

53rd Inf. Brigade.

THE TRIAL

PROSECUTION

1st Witness

No. 20962 Cpl W. Ellwood 8th Norfolk Regt. being duly sworn states-

Between 3 and 4 pm on July 30th, Sgt Bains, my Platoon Sgt warned the platoon to be ready to move to the trenches in fighting order that night and stated that all packs were to be handed into the stores by 6 pm. I personally saw Pte. Abigail when Sgt. Bains warned the platoon. I heard everything Sgt. Bains said and Pte. Abigail was closer to him. About 8pm I noted that Pte. Abigail had not handed in his pack. I searched the camp but not find Pte. Abigail. He was absent when my section, to which he belongs, fell in to proceed to the trenches at about 10.50pm. I did not see Pte. Abigail again until he rejoined under arrest.

Accused declines to cross examine the witness.

2nd Witness

No. 30306 Pte. H. Jennings, 8th Norfolk Regiment, having been duly sworn states-

Sgt. Bains, my Platoon Sgt, warned the platoon about 3.45pm on July 30th to hand on our packs to the stores by 6pm as we were going up to the line that night. I saw Pte. Abigail at the time, he was about 4 yards from me and 2 yards from Sgt. Bains. Pte. Abigail was absent when we handed in our packs and still absent when the platoon marched off that night for a forward area. I did not see Pte. Abigail again until he rejoined the Regt. under arrest some days later.

The accused declines to cross examine the witness.

3rd Witness

No. 22854 Pte. C.E Broughton, 8th Norfolk Regt, being duly sworn states:-

About 3.30pm on July 30th Sgt. Bains, my platoon Sgt. warned the platoon to hand in packs to the stores. I saw Pte. Abigail, he was quite close to Sgt. Baines, who also warned us to collect wood for making breakfasts with the next morning after zero. I myself left for the detail camp before the platoon marched off to the forward area.

The accused declines to cross examine this witness.

4th Witness

No. 2875 Cpl. H.N. Stallworthy M.M.P sworn, states:-

About 4.30pm on August 2nd I was on duty near Staple. I met the accused walking along the road. I stopped him and asked if he was on duty and he replied “No, I am looking for my battalion, they are billeted near here and I have been out for a walk for 2 hours and when I came back, they were gone”. He was unable to give me any further account as to the whereabouts of his battalion. I conveyed him to H.Q 2nd Army, where he was detained to await an escort. He was without any equipment whatsoever.

The accused declines to cross examine this witness.

Prosecution closed.

DEFENCE

The accused declines to make any statement and to call any witnesses.

Court Closed.

The Certified true copy of A.F B122 is produced herewith

(signed) G.V.W Hill

Pres F.G.C.M

24.8.17

Felixstowe 19.12.16 Rank: Pte

Absent from parade at 9am and remaining absent until apprehended by the civil police at Norwich at 4pm 27.12.16 (7 days 9hours)

Punishment awarded:  168 hours Detention.

Felixstowe 15.1.17 Rank: Pte

Having a dirty rifle on parade at 9am

Punishment awarded: 5 days Confined to Barracks.

Felixstowe 22.1.17 Rank: Pte

Absent from parade at 9am and remaining absent until surrendering himself at Britannia Barracks, Norwich at 9.40pm 27.1.17 (5 days 12 hrs 40 mins)

Punishment awarded: 14 days Field Punishment

In the Field 4.5.17 Rank: Pte

When on active service deserting his Majesty’s Service, in that he, in the field, on 4th May 1917 having been warned that his platoon would be moving to the trenches that day, absented himself without leave and remained absent till reporting himself to Fifth Army Infantry School on 12th May 1917.

Punishment : 10 years penal servitude

7.6.17 Sentence suspended by 3rd Army Commander. (22.6.17)

SCHEDULE

 August 24th 1917

Name of alleged offender: No.9504 Pte. J.H Abigail 8th Bn. Norfolk Regt

Offence Charged: Section 12 (1a) Army Act “When on active Service deserting his Majesty’s Service in that he in the field on the 30th July 1917, absented himself from his Battalion after having been warned for the trenches and remained absent until apprehended without arms or equipment by the Military Police in a town behind the lines at about 4.30pm on 2nd August 1917.”

Plea: Not Guilty

Finding, and if convicted, Sentence: Guilty. Death.

CONFIRMATION FROM C-in-C

Confirmed

D.Haig FM

9 Sep : 17

This is all that remains of the file of the FGCM of John Abigail. The confirmation through the chain of command is missing. Abigail was executed by firing party at dawn on 12 September 1917.

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