There were notices up about these fellows who were executed for desertion.
They were cruel you know
They ran away, poor devils. We had one on one of our guns but luckily our C.O. didn’t report it. He would have been shot. He was an old sweat. I can see the bloke, Harry Peake.
Anyone could see he wasn’t fit to fight.
It was gas shells or something. He got terrified and ran away during a bombardment. He was found miles behind the lines with the transport. He should have been shot. If anyone else had done that. But never mind.
Gerald Woods told me about that.
That was the punishment for desertion. Somebody was shot.
A couple of years later he was found behind the lines again; he’d survived two more years of it. This time he was shot for cowardice on 29th April 1918. They said he was a persistent waster and an example had to be made.
The Germans were massing for a big push, so they didn’t want anyone leaving the line.
- The Anniversary of the Battle of Bazentin Ridge 14 July 1916 (themadgame.com)
- Ian Hislop, Michael Palin and the ‘Wipers Times’ (telegraph.co.uk)
- Downloads Through German Eyes: The British & The Somme 1916 (Phoenix Press) (edcabeqo.wordpress.com)
- Book Review: THE DESERTERS A Hidden History of World War II By Charles Glass (politibooks.wordpress.com)