He just had to do his job.
In 1915 a question had been put to Parliament as to whether any soldiers had been executed after sentence by Court Martial. The issues were raised and debated on and off for the next 10 months until the Battle of the Somme intervened. The debate was revived after the Battle of Passchendale in 1917.
In April 1920 the official statistics were first made public, informing the public that 3,076 death sentences had been passed, resulting in 346 executions. This provoked Sylvia Pankhurst and others. The debate and changes to the law continued into the 1920s and 1930s.
Shooting people, that’s brutal.
You could understand lads, I had them – they were terrified, damn you. I’m sitting here, God believe me, I said my prayers many times when we were being shelled and I think he heard me.
There was a boy, 15 years old, called Bill Connolly.
He shot himself in the foot handling a German rifle. They thought he’d done that deliberately to get sent back to Blighty. Last I heard of him he was back on the Somme. He was reported killed in action on the 27th May 1918 – though he might have been shot for cowardice.