Posted 02 February 2012 - 09:51 am
This is from a file presented from the J.A.G. Report 20.2.1920.
Notes on "Cowardice" ( section 4 (7) and "Shell Shock" cases.
My statistics show that during the whole war from 4.8.1914 - 31.12.1919 in all theatres of war total number of 551 officers and soldiers were convicted under section 4 (7) of the Army act of:-
" Misbehaving,or inducing others to misbehave before the enemy in such a manner as to show cowardice"
Of this number 186 soldiers were condemned to suffer death ( no officer was condemned to death) and in 18 cases the sentence was carried into effect, the remaining 168 cases being commuted to a lesser punishment.
First Dealing with these 18 cases in which the sentence of death was carried out:-
only in 3 cases did the accused allege "shellshock". In one of these cases his allegation was disputed at the trial by the medical officer who examined the accused within 17 hours after the act of cowardice was committed. In the other two cases a medical board was held on the accused after trial and before confirmation.
Secondly. Dealing with the remaining cases in this offence, where the death sentence was commuted:- In 22 cases only did the accused allege shell shock, nervous, or the like. In 15 of these cases either medical evidence was called at the trial or the accused was examined during or after trial, or enquiries were made as to the previous medical history of the accused.
These painful cases show as a rule, but great care has been taken over them, and, in the latter period of the war the accused has been defended and a C.M.O. has sat on the court.
In conclusion I would point out that the vast majority of the 7,140 convictions abroad ( in the field) for Desertion and the 6250 convictions for "Quitting Posts" were caused through officers or soldiers being afraid, but an examination of these proceedings is too heavy and is taking to be carried out during the present conditions.
After reading this report I was taken back by the 7140 convictions for desertion in the field, and the 6250 convictions for quitting posts, these are both large numbers.