Chase, Private Herbert of 2/Lancashire Fusiliers

From the file WO71/420 held at TNA


No. 2779 Pte. Chase of 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers “misbehaved before the enemy in such a manner as to show cowardice”



At* In the Field this twenty ninth day of May, 1915

Whereas it appears to me, the undersigned, an officer in Command of 12th 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.


Captain Jones L.O.W  2/Essex Regiment


Captain C.R Carter 1/Kings Own

Lieutenant A.E Maitland 2/Essex Regiment

I certify that no Field Officer was available (signed) F. Gore Anley Brig Gen. 12/ Inf. Brigade



1st Witness No. 4315 Pte. H. Daws 2nd Lanc Fusiliers having been duly sworn states:

That he on May 24th about 3am on hearing heavy machine gun fire and seeing the approach of gas woke the accused up. The Battalion was in the tenches at the time. The accused told me the previous evening that he was not well.

The accused declines to cross-examine the witness.

2nd Witness No.317 Lance Corporal A Barton 2nd Lanc Fusiliers having been duly sworn states:

That on May 24th about 4am on getting the order to advance to reinforce the front line he went along his section to get them ready and saw the accused was not there. He had not given him permission to leave the trench. He looked into the accused’s dug out but he was not there. The Company was in the support trenches on the north side of the YSER Canal about 800 yards behind the front line.

Accused declines to cross-examine this witness.

3rd Witness No. 18005 Pte. F.A Churchill Royal Army Medical Corps having been duly sworn states:

That about 4.30am on May 24th I found the accused lying by the side of the road near VLAMERTINGHE. He was in a dazed condition and exhausted.

Accused declines to cross-examine this witness.


1st Witness The accused having been duly sworn takes his stand at the place from which the other witnesses gave their evidence and states:

That he remembers Pte. Daws waking him up out of his Dug out between 3.30am and 4am on May 24th. After that he remembers nothing and did not see any gas or hear any firing. He had not been feeling well the previous evening. He did not recover his senses till he was in hospital. He had suffered lapses from his memory before. He did not tell anyone except Pte. Daws that he felt ill.




On Monday the 24th May 1915 I was at the Dressing Station, 12th Field Ambulance. I saw Pte. Chase 2/Lancs Fusiliers. When I asked him his name he said “you know me allright” at the same time telling me what his name was. I asked him whether he had been a Regimental Orderly at Doves and he said “yes” and I remarked to him that I knew him well enough. He did not appear to be very sick and I thought there was very little wrong with him. He was standing up whilst I was talking to him.

(Signed) R. Smith Sgt.

No. 12440 RAMC



On Monday the 24th May 1915 I saw Pte. Chase, 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers, he did not appear to be bad from the gas. The reason I recognised the man was from knowing him to be stationed at Doves and doing duty as an orderly in the hospital.

(Signed) Pte. A. White

RAM Corps



On Monday May 24th a large number of men came to the Dressing Station No.12 Field Ambulance stating that they had been gassed. I examined these cases and a perception was formed either by myself or another medical officer to be free from any signs of gas poisoning these cases were sent by me under charge of an NCO to the farm occupied by Captain Shelley O.C 4 Div Cyclists as I considered them fit for duty.

(Signed) Stewart Capt.

O.C Dressing Station

12 Field Ambulance


Statement by No. 2779 Private Chase. H 2/Lancashire Fusiliers


On the morning of the 24th May 1915 I was in the reserve trenches and owing to the Gas used by the enemy, we were compelled to leave and I went to the Field Ambulance. It was there that I had my Equipment and Rifle taken from me.

(Signed) Pte. H Chase



Name of Alleged offender (a):

No. 2779 Pte. Chase 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers

 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) Captain L. Jones  2/Essex Regiment

President FGCM




To 4th Division

In the case of No. 2779 Pte. Chase 2nd Battn. Lancashire Fusiliers I am very strongly of opinion that the sentence should be carried out without delay.

The trench which this man left was a support trench.

I fear that if immediate examples are not made of men who quit their trenches the fighting qualities of the brigade will deteriorate.

(Signed) F. Gore Anley Brig Gen. 12/ Inf. Brigade

29th May 1915


To 5th Corps

I recommend that the sentence be carried out.

(Signed) Henry Wilson

Major General Commanding 4th Div.


To 2nd Army

I doubt that the evidence substantiates the charge. If it does, however, I recommend that the sentence be carried out.

(Signed) Edmund Allenby M Gen

Commanding V Corps

1. VI.15


Priority to FGCM

to 4th Division


Reference case of 2779 Pte CHASE 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers. Returns here show he was discharged from prison on suspension of sentence of two years hard labour. Please report nature of offence if known by unit.

from 2nd Army

to 2nd Army


2779 Pte Chase 2 Lancashire Fus. was tried by FGCM on 15.12.14 for (1) when on active service absenting himself without leave (26/8/14)  (2) when on active service and under arrest escaping (18/10/14) . He was found guilty of both charges and sentenced to 3 years Penal Servitude which sentence was commuted to 2 years H.L by G.O.C 12th Inf. Brigade. He was released from military prison in the field at ROUEN on 6.5.15 under suspension of sentence act.

from 4th Division.


To 5th Corps

1. It will be observed in the proceedings in the case of No. 2779 Pte. Chase 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers that no evidence was called by the Prosecution to prove the condition of Pte. Chase when found in VLAMERTINGHE “in a dazed and exhausted condition”

2. Enquiries have been made and the following facts elucidated:

a. Pte. Chase went to the 12th Field Ambulance Dressing Station where he was recognised by No. 12440 Sgt. Smith and No. 6895 Pte. A White RAMC

b. A number of men were examined by Capt. Stewart RAMC found free from gas poisoning and sent from the Dressing Station of No.12 Field Ambulance to “the farm occupied by Capt. Shelley”, the collecting post for stragglers.

c. Pte. Chase was sent to the farm occupied by Capt. Shelley and a statement taken down in writing and signed by him.

3. As the Court has completed the Proceedings and recorded their finding and sentence when the Proceedings reached this office no action has been taken in the direction of reassembling the Court.

(Signed) Henry Wilson

Commanding 4th Div




In this case I recommend that the sentence be commuted.

(Signed) Herbert Plumer

Commanding 2nd Army

2/June 1915


Since writing the previous minute of 2nd June it has been brought to my notice that Pte. Chase has been tried before for absence from the trenches.

I had no knowledge of this at the time the trial returns of his Court Martial were submitted to me and I do not know whether I ought to have had such knowledge.

If I had known it I should have recommended that the sentence be carried out.

(Signed) Herbert Plumer

Cmd. 2nd Army

3/June 1915

Commander in Chief


(Signed) JDP French F.M

Jun. 7 1915


The proceedings have been promulgated. The sentence was carried out at 4.30am on the 12th June 1915 at San Sixtus

(Signed) G. Smyth Osbourne Capt.


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