Section 12 (1a) of the Army Act 1881
The accused No. 1957. Private W. Hunt, 18th. Service Battalion MANCHESTER REGIMENT, a soldier of the Regular Forces is charged with :-
When on Active service deserting his Majesty’s service, in that he on 12th October 1916 when his battalion was in the front line absented himself without leave from the afternoon of October 12th 1916 until the evening of October 16th 1916 with intent to avoid doing duty in the front line.
(Signed) H. B Williams Lieut. Colonel
COMMANDING 18TH Bn. MANCHESTER REGIMENT
Form for Assembly and proceedings of Field General Court Martial on Active Service.
3 Nov 1916 Headquarters 30th Division
At* On Active Service this second day of November, 1916
Whereas it appears to me, the undersigned, an officer in Command of 90th 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.
Lieut. Colonel RK Walsh 2nd Bn Royal Scots Fusiliers
Captain H T Pomfret 17th Bn Manchester Regiment
Lieut James Knowles 18th Bn Manchester Regiment
Signed JH Lloyd
Comm 90th Inf. Bde
Trial of No. 1957 Pte W Hunt
18th Bn Manchester Regt.
No. 9998 Sarg. W Thomas, 18th Manchester Regt.
being duly sworn states-
The company to which I and the accused belong was in the front line trenches on the 13th Oct until relieved on the afternoon of the 16th Oct 1916. I had gone up on the 13th oct to join the company and act as Coy. Sarg major. From the 13th-16th Oct the accused was not present with the company until the afternoon of the latter date when I met him in GROVE ALLEY one of the reserve trenches. The accused then was not in possession of his rifle or equipment. On the 13th October the company was in the support trench to the front line. On the 14th Oct it went to FACTORY TRENCH and on 15th to TURK LANE and GROVE ALLEY on trench warden duty.
Not Cross examined.
No. 43879 L Corpl F Hodgkinson, 18th Manchester Rgt
Duly sworn states-
The accused is in the same company as myself. On the 12th Oct at about 1.30pm I saw the accused Pte. Hunt in the assembly trenches where the company was prior to carrying out the attack. These assembly trenches were about 200 y behind the front line. I next saw the accused on the 17th Oct when the Bn. was in bivouac. the company took part in the attack at 2.15pm on the afternoon of the 12th Oct.
Not cross examined.
Captain W.H Butler RAMC being duly sworn states –
On 12th Oct 1916 about 4 or 5 pm I was on duty at 18th Bn Manchester Regt aid post, situated about 10 mins walk in rear of FACTORY CORNER where the 18th Manchester Bn HQ were.
I saw the accused at time above mentioned standing outside aid post. I asked him what he was doing. He made no reply. I ordered him to return to his Company. Shortly after I again saw him helping a wounded man to the aid post. He made no complaint of being ill or being wounded. He had no rifle. I again ordered him to rejoin his company.
Q.1 Did you give me an order to take L Corpl Harrison to the Field Ambulance?
L & QMTC Pierce, 18th Manchester Reg duly sworn states –
On 12th Oct 1916 about 5pm. I was in charge of a ration party going to my Bn HQ in FACTORY TRENCH. When passing along Turk Lane, a communication trench leading there I met Pte. Hunt. The accused coming down the trench towards the rear in front of a stretcher party. I asked him “is anything the matter with you” and he said “No”. He had no rifle nor equipment. I then ordered him to fall in with my party which he did and I moved on towards Bn HQ. On arrival there the accused was no longer with the party.
No. 43765 Pte J Collins, 18th Manchester Regt.
duly sworn states :-
On 13th Oct 1916 at about 8am I was with the T.M Batty in TURK LANE – the communications trench leading to the front line – when the accused, Pte Hunt, came up going towards the front line. He had no rifle nor equipment. He told me he had carried down a wounded man the previous evening to the dressing station. He then went on his way towards the front.
No. 10235 L Corpl A. Butterworth, 18th Manchester Regt
duly sworn states :-
I was in charge of my Battn Runners during its tour of duty in trenches from 10th Oct – 16th Oct 1916 and made several journeys along TURK LANE to the front line. There was no difficulty in anyone finding his way.
End of prosecution witnesses
No. 7941 Pte. H. Lawrence 90th T.M batty duly sworn states –
On Oct 12th 1916 about 7.50pm I was in TURK LANE near FLERS VILLAGE and saw accused, Pte Hunt helping a wounded man along the trench. I saw him again on 13th &14th Oct on several occasions both days when he enquired on the whereabouts of his Bn. and I told him that as far as I knew it was in the front line.
Q1. How far is that portion of TURK LANE where accused met you from the front line, and is it easy to get from one end to the other?
A1. About 40 mins walk and a straightforward way.
Q2. Did you tell the accused the way?
Q3. Did the accused ask the way
Q4. Was the accused wearing equipment and carrying rifle?
Q5. Were there any other men of the accused Platoon in the trench at the time he was with you?
No. 43722 Sgt. E Noone 18th Manchesters, duly sworn stated
On Oct 12th about 1.20pm I was in the trenches near FLERS VILLAGE and saw pte. Hunt, the accused. I spoke to him. He had his rifle and equipment. I did not see him again until Oct 16th when in GROVE VALLEY when I saw him coming down a trench as if from the front line trenches.
He had then a rifle but no equipment. I asked him what he was looking for and he said “for some spare equipment” I told him he could easily find some thereand about an hour later he went away towards the front line trenches.
Q1. Does the accused belong to your Company?
A1. I do not know.
Q2. Do you belong to A. Coy?
Q3. who was acting C.S.M.?
A3. Sarg. THOMAS.
Q4. Did the accused ask you at all regarding the whereabouts of his Company or the way abouts?
The accused, duly sworn, after electing to give evidence and taken his stand as a witness and after being named states –
I, No. 1957 Pte. Hunt state – on 12th Oct 1916 I took post with my Company in the attack on the enemy’s trenches. On returning about half hour later I could not control my limbs, nor hold my rifle. I went down to the B. aid post. One of the orderlies there told me to rest awhile and I remained until about 4.30pm when I was ordered back by the M.O to join the Bn. I was going along TURK LANE and met a stretcher party coming down. I could not pass them and I then met LQM Pierce. I fell in with his party as ordered by him. When in FACTORY TRENCH the party met L Corpl HARRISON wounded who asked me to help him down to aid post. I did so and the M.O told me to take him to the Field Ambulance. I [illegible] them about 2am 15 oct. I returned and met Pte. Collins T.M.B in TURK LANE who stated he did not know where the Battn. was. I went on torwards the front line and was told by someone that my Battn. had been relieved the night before. This was about 9am. I went to try and find them in the reserve but could not. I was up and down the trenches till the 15th Oct. On 15th Oct. I got in with some of the 17th Manchesters in FACTORY TRENCH. On the 16th Oct I found Sgt. NOONE’S party in GROVE ALLEY. I then remained with the Company to which Sgt. NOONE party belonged picking up a spare set of equipment and remaining there until relieved with my company.
Q1. Did you on second occasion of visiting the Bn. Aid Post receive an order from the M.O to rejoin the Battn.?
A1. Yes – but I was told to first take the wounded man to the field Ambulance.
Q2. Did you in period 12th-16th October at any time ask any officers or NCO where the 18th Bn manchesters where?
A2. Yes, one L Corpl, on the 13th but I do not know his name and he did not know the way as he was also lost.
Q3. Did you from 12th – 16th Oct not come across any 18th manchester stretcher parties?
Q4. Did you make any enquiries at the Bn. Aid Post as to whereabouts of your Bn?
Q5. Were you aware of the order regarding no one but authorised persons accompanying wounded to Aid post?
A5. No – I had been told nothing on the matter.
Q6. Were you aware of the order under which any soldier lost should place themselves under orders of any officer or NCO met with?
Q7. How long have you been on active service in France?
A7. Two years.
Q8. How was it you came to be deficient of your equipment?
A8. I took it off to carry the wounded man.
Q9. What time was your Company relieved?
A9. About 4.30pm
Q10. Did you receive permission on 12th Oct to proceed to the Aid Post after the attack?
A10. No, but all officers and NCO’s as far as I knew were casualties.
End of defence witnesses.
The accused then addressed the court saying:
Captain Scully 2nd Bn MANCHESTER REGT could speak for my conduct in the trenches for nearly 12 months.
Prosecutor Capt. TJ Kelly 18th Manchester Regt. being duly sworn states:
I produce the accompanying conduct sheet of the accused Pte. Hunt.
(Signed) R.K Walsh Lt. Col
Etaples 1.8.16 Absent from parading with a draft for the front at 3.45pm till Tattoo
Punishment: 28 days F.P No.1
O.M.A.S 16.8.16 Being in BETHUNE without a pass
Absent from Billets without permission
19.8.16 Being absent from parade at 3pm
Absent from Billets from 3pm to 6pm
Punishment: 14 Days F.P No.1
O.M.A.S 24.8.16 When on active service disobeying in such a manner as to show a wilful defiance of authority a lawful command given personally by his superior officer in the execution of his office.
Punishment: 1 Years Hard Labour
Remission: Commuted to 3 months F.P No.1 by G.O.C 30th Div.
Further remission: Remitted to 9 days of F.P by 1st Army Comm. (10/9/16)
Statement from the C.O of 18/Manchester Regiment
90th Infantry Brigade
I enclose herewith a statement regarding the Character of No. 1957 Private Hunt.
From my own personal knowledge of the accused I am of opinion that he deliberately absented himself from his company in the trenches with the intention of avoiding the particular service involved.
This man joined the 18th Battn. Manchester Regt with a draft on August 4th 1916. He is a regular soldier (special reserve) and states that he was previously with the 2nd Manchester Regiment and has been two years in France. His general behaviour whilst with the battn under my command has been unsatisfactory. He had only been in action with his Coy once and as a consequence the present charge was proposed against him.
H B Williams Lt. Col
Commanding 18th Manch. R
November 2nd 1916
Name of alleged offender: No. 1957 Private W. Hunt, 18th Battalion, Manchester Regt.
Offence Charged: Section 12 (1a) Army Act “Where on Active Service Deserting his Majesty’s Service”
Plea: Not Guilty
Finding, and if convicted, Sentence: Guilty. To suffer death by being shot.
(Signed) JH Lloyd
Comm. 90th Inf. Brigade
1. I should recommend that the sentence be Commuted and carried out when commuted.
2. The character of the accused as a fighting man has not been at all satisfactory.
3. The general state of discipline of the Battn. has been good.
4. Comm. Officers opinion attached.
5. There is no circumstance which requires the sentence penalty to be inflicted. The man is young, but his presence in the ranks of new reinforcements is not all desirable.
Commander 90th Inf Bde
Now follows a series within the file confirming the sentence as imposed by the FGCM
Confidential Headquarters VII Corps “A”
Recommended that the sentence be carried out as the accused appeared to have deliberately absconded himself from the firing line.
(Signed) J Shea Major General Commanding 30th Division 3.11.16
Third Army ‘A’ forwarded
I agree with the recommendation of the G.O.C 30th Div
(Signed) [illegible] Major General Comm. VII Corps 4.11.16
Third Army C.M 5002
The Adjutant General,
I recommend that his sentence of death be carried out.
(Signed) Edmund Allenby
Commanding Third Army
D. Haig. Gen
10 Nov 16
Adjutant General’s Branch
Please Do Not Detach.
In confirmation of my telegram No. A(b) 1975 of today. Please note that the C. in C. has confirmed the sentence in the case of No. 1957, Pte W. Hunt, 18th Battalion Manchester Regiment.
Please return the proceedings direct to this office after promulgation.
I certify that No. 1957, Private W. Hunt of the 18th Battalion, The Manchester Regiment, was executed by shooting at 6.37am on 14th November 1916 at place appointed . Death was instantaneous.
(Signed) G.C Robinson
Temp Attached 18th Manchester Regt.
I certify that the sentence of Death awarded by F.G.C.M on No. 1957 Private W. Hunt, 18th Bn. Manchester Regiment, and confirmed by the Commander-in-Chief on the 10th November, 1916, was duly executed at 6.37am today in my presence
Assistant Provost Marshal,
14th November 1916.