Botfield, Private Albert Botfield 12772 of the 9th South Staffordshire Regiment.

From the File WO 71/508 Held at TNA



29 September 1916

No. 12772 Private A. Botfield

9th South Staffordshire Regiment (Pioneers)

The accused, No. 12772 Private A. Botfield, 9th South Staffordshire Regiment (Pioneers), a soldier of the regular forces, is charged with :-

1st Charge:

When on Active Service, Misbehaving before the enemy in such a manner as to show cowardice, in that he in the field on 21st September 1916 when under the enemy’s shell fire fell out of the ranks and ran away.

2nd Charge:

Deserting his Majesty’s Service, in that he on 21st September 1916 absented himself from a working party and thereby avoided duty in the trenches.

(This 2nd charge of Desertion is alternative to the first charge)

(Signed) R. Stephenson

Lieut, Colonel

Commanding 9th South Staffordshire Regiment (Pioneers)



At* France this 29th day of September, 1916

Whereas it appears to me, the undersigned, an officer in Command of 28th Division 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.


Lieut. Colonel H.J Bartholomew D.S.O. Worcestershire Regiment


Captain F.S.A Baker 2nd Seaforth Highlanders

Captain H.W.B Foster 10th Northumberland Fusiliers

2nd Lieut. S. Palmer Royal Artillery.

(Signed) J.M Babington

Major General commanding 23rd Division.



1st Witness

No. 14653 Sergt. S.C Wormington 9th South Staffs. sworn states:

I am platoon Sergt. of No. 7 platoon to which the accused belongs. On 21st September 1916 at 3.30pm I warned the platoon, the accused being present, to parade at 5.45pm for work up in the trenches.

At 5.45pm I called the roll and the accused was present. We marched and the accused was present. We marched up and when we were within about 500 yards of CABLE trench where we were to work there was a shell blast near us and I saw the accused run away. This was about 7.15pm. The Platoon went into the trench and I searched for the accused but could not find him.

No questions from the accused.

2nd Witness

No. 17108 Cpl. I. Brown 9th S. Staffs sworn states:

On 21st September at about 7.30pm whilst marching to the trenches a shell landed about 25 yards from us. I saw the accused run away. I next saw accused at about 11am on the 22nd.

No questions by accused

3rd Witness

No. 14879 L/Cpl Mills 9th S.Staffs sworn states:

On 21st September on moving to the trenches at about 7.30pm a shell burst near to us and the accused ran away. I saw him run away and did not see him again.

No questions by accused.

4th Witness

No. 11493 L/Cpl Griffiths 9th S. Staffs sworn states:

On 22nd September I was orderly Corporal of ‘B’ Company. I went and found the accused at 7.30am asleep in his bivouac. I reported this to the C.S.M

No questions by accused.

5th Witness

No. 17013 Pte. J. Jones 9th S. Staffs sworn states:

On the 22nd September I saw the accused in ‘B’ Company’s lines at about 6.30am. He was coming from the latrines. The Accused had no rifle or equipment.

No questions by accused.


The accused on oath states:

I fell in at the parade at 5.45pm on the 21st [September] and we marched up towards the trenches. On the way a shell burst about 20 yards from me and I jumped into a trench. Later on when it got quieter I went on trying to find my party but after going some distance I met a man who told me I was going in the wrong direction. I sat down and went to sleep waking at about 4am when I returned to my bivouac. I had worked in CABLE trench before.

Cross-examined by the prosecutor:

The man I asked the way of did not belong to my regiment but had some red stuff on his shoulders. I was on my way to join my working party as I wanted to rejoin them. After I met the man I came straight away home and this is where I went to sleep. It was about 4.30am  that I got home. I reported to nobody anywhere.

Cross-examined by the court:

I did not see Sergt. Wormington at all while I was in the trench. I was about 20 yards from where the shell burst. Whilst in the trench two more shells came. I didn’t know what the rest of the party did but they scattered. I did not see where they scattered but I heard them.

CABLE trench was about 500 yards from where the first shell burst. I knew we were going to work there that night.

I was nervous thats why I took so long to come home and its also the reason why I did not try and go out to CABLE trench after the shelling.

The accused calls no witnesses.


Prosecutor, Captain E.L Browning, 9th South Staffs:

I am the adjutant of my battalion. I produce AFB 122, certified true copy, of the accused’s conduct sheet (attached). I cannot say exactly when the accused came out to France.

No questions from the accused.

Accused makes no statement in mitigation and calls no witnesses to character.

(Signed) Lieut. Colonel H.J Bartholomew

President, FGCM


Etaples 6.1.16

Absenting himself without leave at Etaples from 6.1.16 at 5.30pm from his draft of reinforcements until apprehended by M.F.P at Boulogne on 14.1.16

Punishment: 90 Days Field Punishment No.1

Etaples 8.6.16

When on Active Service 1) Leaving Camp without permission. 2) Absent from camp from tattoo 26.5.16 until tattoo 27.5.16

Punishment: 7 days confined to camp.

In the Field 16.6.16

Whilst on Active Service absent without leave from 9pm 16.6.16 until 9.30pm 18.6.16

Punishment: 28 Days Field Punishment No.1

In the Field 18.8.16

When on Active Service Deserting His Majesty’s Service

Punishment: 90 Days Field Punishment No.1


Name of Alleged Offender:

No. 12772 Private A. Botfield

9th South Staffordshire Regiment (Pioneers)

Offence charged:

When on Active Service misbehaving before the enemy in such a manner as to show cowardice


Not Guilty

Finding, and if Convicted, Sentence:

Guilty, to suffer death by being shot.

When on Active Service Deserting His Majesty’s Service


Not Guilty

Finding, and if Convicted, Sentence:

Not Guilty


To III Corps

I recommend that the sentence of the Court in this case be carried out. The case appears to me to be a perfectly clear one and I can find no characteristics commendable.

(Signed) (Signed) J.M Babington

Major General commanding 23rd Division.

October 2nd 1916.


III Corps



23rd Division

It is requested that the age of the prisoner may be stated and as to whether the discipline of the battalion is good.

(Signed) [illegible] Captain

DAA & QMG, III Corps.




III Corps (A)

The age of the prisoner according to entry in his AB64 is 28 years and 3 months.

The discipline in the battalion is good.

J.M Babington

Major General commanding 23rd Division.



Fourth Army ‘A’

As the discipline of the Battalion is good I do not recommend the extreme penalty be enforced

(Signed) W.P Pulteney

Lieutenant General

Commanding III Corps



Adjutant General, General Headquarters (through D.J.A.G)


I see no extenuating circumstances and recommend that the sentence be carried out.

(Signed) H. Rawlinson


Commanding Fourth Army.




For submission to the Commander in Chief

(Signed) Gilbert-Mellor




(Signed) D. Haig General

14 Oct 16


Sentence duly carried out at POPERINGHE at 5.50am on October 18th 1916

(Signed) G.A.S Williams Major

A.G 23rd Division


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