Crozier, Rifleman James. 9th Bn, The Royal Irish Rifles

From the File WO 71/450 Held at TNA


14th February 1916

No.9/14218 Rifleman James Crozier

9th Royal Irish Rifles

When on Active Service deserting His Majesty’s Service in that he “In the Trenches” on the 31st January 1916 absented himself from 9th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles until apprehended “In the Field” by Corporal William Tayloron the 4th February 1916.



On Active Service this 14th day of February, 1916

Whereas it appears to me, the undersigned, an officer in Command of 107th 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.


Major L.G Bernard  8th Royal Irish Rifles


Captain G.H Gaffikin 9th Battn. Royal Irish Rifles

Lieut. A.T Blackwood 8th Battn. Royal Irish Rifles

(Signed) W M Withycombe

Commanding 107th Infantry Brigade.



1st Witness

No. 9/18835 Corporal E. Todd 9/R Irish Rifles states:

On 31 January 1916 my Platoon went into the front line trenches for duty at about 7 pm. The accused marched in with the rest of the platoon.

At about 8.45 pm I went to look for accused to warn him for sentry duty at 9 pm. I could not find him. I had previously warned the accused at 8.30 pm not to leave the Dugout in which he was sitting.

The accused declines to cross examine this witness.

2nd Witness

No. 9/16532 C.S.M. Hill 9/R Irish Rifles states:

On 31 January 1916 about 9 pm Corpl. Todd reported to me that he could not find the accused, Rifleman Crozier. My Company had come into the front line trenches about 7 pm that evening. The accused is in my Company and in Corporal Todd’s Platoon. I searched the trenches and Dugout with Corpl. Todd and could not find the accused.

The accused declines to cross examine this witness.

3rd Witness

No. 3292 Corpl. William Taylor 7th Ammunition Sub Park states:

I am stationed about 25 miles in the rear of our front line trenches. On 4 February 1916 about 9am I saw the accused strolling along our Mechanical Transport Lines. He had no numerals, cap badge or rifle or equipment on. I challenged him and asked him what he was doing. He had no pay book. I placed the accused in our guard room. I asked him his name and regiment and he told me his name and regiment and said he was a Deserter.

The accused declines to cross examine this witness.

4th Witness

No. P 1172 Corpl. F.S Brightmore 4th Division M.M.P states:

On 5 February 1916 I was ordered to go and fetch the accused from 7th Ammunition Sub Park, about 25 miles from the 4th Div. Headquarters. The Accused was under arrest there. I brought the Accused back to 36 Div Headquarters on 7 February 1916 and handed him over to the A.P.M

The accused had no rifle, equipment or pay book.

The accused declines to cross examine this witness.


1st Witness

The Accused, No. 9/14218 Rfn. J. Crozier 9th R. Irish Rifles gives the following evidence:

On 31 January 1916 I went into the front line trenches with my platoon.. I was feeling very ill; with pains all over me. I do not remember what I did. I was dazed; I do not remember being warned for duty. I cannot remember leaving the trenches ever.

Cross examined by the Court.

Q1. At the time you were feeling ill in the trenches was any bombardment going on near you?

A1. There were some rifle grenades bursting about ten yards from me.

Q2. Where you feeling ill before you went into the trenches?

A2. Yes, only I got worse when I began to get cold.

Q3. Had you reported sick previously?

A3. No.

“Extracts from the Conduct Sheet of Rfn. Crozier, ‘A’ Company, 9th Royal Irish Rifles”:

Date of Enlistment: 11.9.14.

Character shown as BAD

Charges since arriva in France -2.

(1) Absent from a working party.

(2) Absent from Billets.

Certified true extracts.

(Signed) J M Sinclair Lieut. and Adjutant

9th Bn. R Irish Rifles


Name of Alleged Offender:

No.9/14218 Rifleman James Crozier

9th Royal Irish Rifles

Offence Charged:

When on Active Service deserting His Majesty’s Service


Not Guilty

Finding, and if Convicted, Sentence:

Guilty, DEATH



107th Infantry Brigade

With reference to you regarding No.9/14218 Rifleman James Crozier

(1) From a fighting point of view this soldier is of no value. His behaviour has been that of a “shirker” for the past 3 months. He has been with the Expeditionary Force in France since 3/10/15

(2) I am firmly of the opinion that the crime was deliberately committed with the intention of avoiding duty on the Redan, more particularly as he absented himself shortly after the case of another soldier had been promulgated for a similar crime. The Officer commanding the man’s Company is of the same opinion. Sentence was remitted in the case mentioned to 2 years Hard Labour.

(Signed) F P Crozier Lt. Col

Commanding 9th R Irish Rifles


36th Division

The accused absented himself from the trenches on the 31st January without reporting sick and was not apprehended until the 4th February, it is therefore impossible to produce medical evidence as to the state of the health of the accused when he absented himself.

(Signed) W M Withycombe Brigadier General

Commanding 107th Infantry Brigade.



36th Division

I recommend that the extreme penalty in the case of No.9/14218 Rifleman James Crozier be carried out.

My reasons for this recommendation are that the case is one of deliberately avoiding duty in the trenches and as a deterrent to a repetition of offences of this nature. The discipline of the 9th R. I rifles is good for a Service Battalion.

(Signed) W M Withycombe Brigadier General

Commanding 107th Infantry Brigade.



17th Corps

Forwarded. I concur in the opinion expressed by Brig. General Withycombe that the sentence should be carried out. There have been previous cases of desertion within 107th Brigade.

(Signed) O. Nugent Major General

Commanding 36th Div.



I certify that I have examined Rifleman James Crozier, 9th Bn Royal Irish Rifles and that he is of sound health in mind and body. I further certify that there is no evidence to show that he has recently been other than sound in mind and in body.

(Signed) Fawcett


O.C. 108th Field Ambulance.



3rd Army “A”

I consider that in the interests of discipline the sentence, as awarded, should be carried out.

(Signed) J. Byng Lieut. General

Commanding XVII Corps.



Adjutant General

General Headquarters

I recommend that the sentence of death be carried out.

(Signed) Edmund Allenby

General, Commanding III Army

21st February 1916



For submission to the Commander in Chief.

(Signed) Gilbert Mellor Lt. Colonel





(Signed) D. Haig Gen.

23 Feb 16


Certified that above proceedings have been promulgated and that the sentence was duly executed at 7.05 am on 27th February 1916.

(Signed) O. Nugent Major General

Commanding 36th Div.





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