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Shot for cowardice – May 1916

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.


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