Burton, Private Robert 10912, 6th South Lancashire Regiment.

From the File WO 71/631 Held at TNA

CHARGE SHEET

6th February 1917

No. 10912 Private Robert Burton

6th South Lancashire Regiment

When on Active Service when a soldier acting as sentinel sleeping on his post. In that he in the firing line in Mesopotamia on February 6th 1917 at 2.45am when sentry on a forward post was asleep.

FORM FOR ASSEMBLY AND PROCEEDINGS OF FIELD GENERAL COURT MARTIAL ON ACTIVE SERVICE

PROCEEDINGS

At* Firing Line, Mesopotamia, this Sixth day of February 1917.

Whereas it appears to me, the undersigned, an officer in Command of 38th 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 A. Macnaghton 6th K.O.R.L.R

Members

Captain F.C.C Briggs, Kings Liverpool Regiment

Captain O.A. Reid, Kings Liverpool Regiment

(Signed) JW O’Dowda, Brigadier General

Commanding 38th Brigade.

THE TRIAL OF NO. 10912 PRIVATE ROBERT BURTON, 6TH SOUTH LANCASHIRE REGIMENT

PROSECUTION

1st Witness

No. 9401 Sergeant T. Miller 6th South Lancs Regt. being duly sworn states:

In the firing line in Mesopotamia in the morning of Feb 6th 1917 I posted the accused No. 10912 Pte Robert Burton as a sentry in the forward post at 2am. His period of duty was 2 hours.

At 2.45 am the same morning I visited the sentries with 2/Lt. Jackson. I found the accused asleep. He was in a sitting position with his back against the parados side of the watercourse. 2nd Lt. Jackson told me to awaken him, this I did by kicking him on his legs.

The evidence is read over.

The accused declines to cross examine.

Witness withdraws.

2nd Witness

2nd Lieutenant A.G. Jackson, 6th South Lancs Regt. being duly sworn states:

In the firing line in Mesopotamia on Feb 6th 1917 at 2.45am. I visited the sentries in my forward position with the N.C.O on duty, Sgt. Miller. I found the accused, Pte. R Burton asleep. The Sergeant spoke to him and he woke up. 

He rested during the previous afternoon and had not been on fatigue during the afternoon or evening.

Q1. Did you notice Sgt. Miller do anything other than speak to the man to awaken him?

A.1 No. 

The evidence is read over.

The Accused declines to cross examine.

Witness withdraws.

3rd Witness

No. 7897 C.S.M. F. Woollett 6th South Lancs being duly sworn states:

During the night of Feb 5th/6th the accused No.10912 Pte. R. Burton had not reported sick to me and he had not to my knowledge been on any fatigue since midday Feb 5th 1917.

The evidence is read over.

The accused declines to cross examine.

Witness withdraws.

PROSECUTION CLOSED

DEFENCE

No.10912 Pte. Robert Burton, 6th South Lancs Regt in his defence states:

I have been out with my Battalion since the beginning but recently I have been much troubled with indigestion and pains in the head. I wanted to stick the thing out and so have not reported sick. I have been feeling very tired and run down recently.

Court Closed to consider evidence.

Proceedings before Sentence.

Captain and Adjutant P.W Ward 6th South Lancs Regt. being duly sworn states:

I produce statement as to Characters and Particulars of the accused, No. 10912 Pte. R. Burton. These statements have been compared with all available Regimental records.

The accused has done good service with the Battalion throughout the war.

The accused declines to cross examine.

Witness withdraws.

Court Closed to consider Sentence

(Signed) A. Macnaghton

President F.G.C.M.

STATEMENT AS TO THE CHARACTER AND PARTICULARS OF THE SERVICE OF ACCUSED

There are no entries on the conduct sheet of the accused.

The present age of the accused according to his A.B.64 is 24 years and 8 months.

The date of his attestation specified in his A.B.64 is 24th August 1914.

The service for which the accused is allowed to reckon towards discharge is 2 years 6 months.

(Signed) P.W Ward Capt/Adj.

6th Bn. South Lancs Regt.

SCHEDULE

Name of Alleged offender (a):

No. 10912 Private Robert Burton, 6th Battalion South Lancashire Regiment

Offence Charged:

When on Active Service when a soldier acting as sentinel sleeping on his post. In that he in the firing line in Mesopotamia on February 6th 1917 at 2.45am when sentry on a forward post was asleep.

Plea:

Not Guilty

Finding, and if Convicted, Sentence (b):

The Court Sentences the accused, No. 10912 Pte. Robert Burton, 6th South Lancs regiment to suffer Death by being shot.

(Signed) B Macnaghton Lt. Col

President FGCM

RECOMMENDATIONS

BATTALION

No. 10912 Pte. R Burton has served continuously, chiefly on transport since enlisting in August 1914. He has always done his work in a most satisfactory manner and has never given any trouble. He was with the transport all through the hot weather of 1916.

(Signed) F.H Charlton Lt. Col

Commanding 6th South Lancashire Regiment

7th February 1917.

BRIGADE

To H.Q 13th Division

In forwarding the proceedings of the FGCM in the case of No. 10912 Pte. R Burton, 6th Battalion South Lancs Regiment to be dealt with by superior authority, I attach the character furnished by the Accused’s Commanding Officer.

There appears to be no extenuating circumstances beyond the Accused’s good character and I therefore consider the sentence should be carried out.

(Signed) J.W O’Dowda

Commanding 38th Infantry Brigade

7/2/17

DIVISION

To 3rd Corps

There are no extenuating circumstances but in view of Private Burton’s excellent record and as an appreciation of the good work done by his Battalion during the present Operations I recommend that the sentence be commuted to one of 5 years Penal Servitude and that it be suspended.

(Signed) W de S Cayley

Major General

Commanding XIII Division.

10/2/17

CORPS

To

General Headquarters

The actual fact of Private Burton being found sitting down shows such utter want of appreciation of his duties as a sentry, responsible for the lives of his comrades that although the accused bears an excellent character I am unable to recommend suspension of sentence.

(Signed) W. R Marshall

Lieutenant General

Commanding, 3rd Indian Army Corps

10th February 1917.

REPORT OF TRIAL

From

The Deputy Judge Advocate General

1st and 3rd Indian Army Corps

To

The Deputy Adjutant General

General Headquarters

FGCM

No.10912 Private R. Burton, 6th South Lancashire Regiment

Charge: Sleeping at his post.

Finding: Guilty of the charge.

Sentence: Death.

Forwarded for the decision of the Army Commander, together with the recommendations of the Brigade, Divisional and Corps Commanders.

The finding is supported by the evidence, and the sentence is legal.

(Signed) Stanley R. Crawford

Lieut.

Deputy Judge Advocate General

1st and 3rd Indian Army Corps.

COMMANDER IN CHIEF

Confirmed.

(Signed) F.S Maude

Lieutenant General

SENTENCE

Robert Burton was shot at dawn on 19 February 1917. Death was reported as being instantaneous.

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