20th Feb 1915. Court Martial but No Spies in Rugby

DISTRICT COURT MARTIAL AT RUGBY.

A district military court martial was held at Rugby Police Station on Friday last week.

ABSENT WITHOUT LEAVE.

Lance-Corpl Edward Wharton, of one of the departmental corps stationed at Rugby, was charged under section 15 of the Army Act with being absent without leave while on active service, at Rugby, on the 6th to 8th February.-Mr Harold Eaden, solicitor, Rugby, appeared for Wharton, who pleaded guilty.-The evidence for the prosecution was that the prisoner failed to present himself for duty on the days in question, as instructed to do so by orders left at his billet, and to feed and water his horse. He was arrested on the 8th inst.

In mitigation of the offence, Mr Eaden pointed out that the man only enlisted in January last, and had not a thorough knowledge of military discipline. He had a wife and four children. The former was in a deplorable state of health, and was not expected to live. Accused had received a letter from his wife, in which she stated that she had had a very bad heart attack, and her health was so bad that she had been compelled to sell the business in which he had established her before leaving. In consequence of this letter he went to see his parents on Saturday to make arrangements for them to look after her and the children. As his duties were those of a groom, he did not think there was any harm in going away if he arranged for his work to be carried out by someone else, and he actually paid another man to do the work. He did not receive the orders from his officer which were left at his billet, otherwise he would not have gone. The man voluntarily presented himself before his officer at nine o’clock on the Monday morning. Under the circumstances, he asked them to deal leniently with the accused.

During the reading of the wife’s letter accused burst into tears.

Evidence of character was given by an officer under whom accused worked, who stated that he bore a good character and had shown particular keenness in looking after several of the horses which were sick, and had turned out at nights to look after them.

The prosecuting officer having put in a statement of accused’s character, the room was cleared for the court to consider the verdict, which will be made known in due course.

ALLEGED DISOBEDIENCE OF ORDERS AND VIOLENCE.

Pte E Grimley, “ C ” Company, of the English Regiment, stationed in the town, pleaded not guilty to two charges, i.e, to disobeying the command of a superior officer, Sergt Norman, by not marching off when told to do so and with offering violence to a superior officer while under escort by attempting to strike Sergt John David Ronald.

Sergt Norman gave evidence to the effect that on the 4th inst., at 11 p.m. “ C ” Company of his regiment were on a route march, and orders were given to them to cross a fence and re-organise in the meadow at the other wide. He noticed accused was working very slackly, and he told him to fall in. He stood on one side at first, but eventually did so. They then received the order to march off, and the platoon did so, but accused stood still, and repeatedly stated that he was not going to do any more. Witness then reported the offence.

Accused stated that he did not refuse to march. He only marched slowly.-Witness related that Grimley stood still, and said, “ I am not going to do any more.”

Corpl Weston stated that he was ordered by the Company Sergeant-Major to take charge of accused under escort, but he did not know for what reason. He gave the order, “ Quick march!” but accused took no notice. Alter two minutes and the second order he moved off. On reaching the centre of the town accused commenced to struggle with the escort, and Sergt Ronald, seeing this, came back with two more men. In the struggle the accused struck out at Sergt Ronald, and had the latter not got out of the way he would have received the blow.- Accused asked : “Was my arm free when the escort had hold of me ?,” Witness : You wrenched your right arm free in the struggle.- Q : How could I hit a a man who was behind two others marching out ? -A : You struggled towards Sergt Ronald.

Sergt Ronald stated that he saw the accused struggling with his escort, and he went back with two men. Accused wrenched his right arm free, and attempted to strike witness on the face, but he avoided the blow by raising his right arm.

In defence, the accused said that he did not hear the order given by Sergt Norman to march off. Sergt Norman told him he would have to go to the guard-room, and accused answered: “ You can put me there now, as if I am going to the guard-room I am not going to do the route march.” He had no intention of striking at Sergt Ronald.

The company officer gave evidence as to the accused’s character. He had known Grimley for about three years. He was a very good soldier, but suffered from a bad temper.-The court then proceeded to consider their finding.

Two cases of desertion also came up for hearing.

RUGBY URBAN DISTRICT COUNCIL

THE TOWN AND THE TROOPS.

The CHAIRMAN said the Brigadier in command of the troops in Rugby had called upon him to express his thanks to the Council for the excellent arrangements made as regarded billeting, and help afforded to him and his officers in various ways. He also desired particularly to thank the townspeople for the very kind and hospitable way they had welcomed the soldiers and made them as comfortable us they possibly could. He (the Chairman) told him they were only too anxious in Rugby to do all they could for the soldiers, who they were pleased to find to be such a respectable, well-behaved body of men.

AIR RAID ALARMS.

The General Purposes Committee reported that they had considered the notice issued by the Chief Constable of the county respecting precautionary steps to be taken in the event of an air raid by an enemy of the country, and had arranged with the works manager of the B.T.H Co, Ltd, for the company, on receiving information from the police of an impending air raid, to give a distinctive signal on the works hooter. The signal proposed is 10 blasts on the hooter, each lasting three seconds, with three seconds intervals ; the whole period of the signal being one minute. The committee was considering with the manager of the Gas Company the policy of reducing the number of street lamps lighted and darkening the tops of the remaining lanterns. The committee desired to record their thanks to the police authorities and the management of the B.T.H Company for their ready co-operation.

The CHAIRMAN moved the adoption of this report, and said the reason that the B.T.H was chosen was that there was someone there night and day. Ten blasts on that hooter would arouse Rugby.-Mr SHILLITOE enquired if these directions would be printed for the benefit of general public. The CHAIRMAN answered that there was to be another meeting of the committee, and he supposed they would decide to advertise it.-Mr WISE thought it would be a good idea to have a test alarm to if the people noticed it (laughter).-Mr YATES asked what the people were to do. Were they to go out to look for the aircraft.-the CHAIRMAN thought it was a matter of common sense. They should go into the basement if they had one, or at any rate stop in the house and put the lights out. These directions would be inserted in the notice.-Mr NEWMAN enquired as to the B.T.H Works, with regard to the reduction of light. Their lights could be seen for a very long distance, and he asked if they would reduce theirs also.-The Clerk replied in the affirmative, and said they would immediately vacate the whole of the premises, with the exception of the Fire Station.

SUPPOSED SPIES IN THE MIDLANDS.

WARNING TO GOVERNMENT CONTRACTORS.

The Secretary of the Admiralty has made the following announcement:-

Information has been received that two persons, posing as an officer and sergeant, and dressed in khaki, are going about the country attempting to visit military works, &c.

They were last seen in the Midlands on the 6th inst., when they effected an entry into the works of a firm who are doing engineers’ work for the Admiralty. They made certain enquiries as to the presence or otherwise of anti-aircraft guns, which makes it probable that they are foreign agents in disguise.

All contractors engaged on work for his Majesty’s Navy are notified, with a view to the apprehension of these individuals, and are advised that no persons should be admitted to their works unless notice has been received beforehand of their coming.

A rumour current in the town that access was obtained at one of the Rugby Works is, we are officially informed, quite untrue.

LOCAL WAR NOTES.

Mr L W Eadon, son of Mr W Eadon, Hillmorton Road, has enlisted as a gunner in “ A ” Battery, Reserve Battalion of the H.A.C.

The Pipers’ Band of the Scottish Regiment, with drums, by kind permission of the Commanding Officer paraded in the School Close on Monday afternoon, and played several marches and national airs to the delight of a large number of members and friends of the School.

Corpl A J Harris has been promoted owing to the services he has rendered at the front as a motor-cycle dispatch rider, to second-lieutenant in the Royal Engineers. He had the honour of being mentioned in the dispatches from General French published on Thursday last. He is now stationed at Fenny Stratford. It will be remembered that he gained his colours as a half-back in the Rugby School Football XV, and afterwards played regularly for the Rugby Club.

Pte J Bonnick, A.S.C, of Wellesbourne, who, as we announced last week had been reported killed at the front on December 2nd, has wired to his wife that he is quite well.

TWO OLD ST. MATTHEW’S BOYS MENTIONED.

Sir John French’s despatch, published on February 18th, includes the names of two old pupils of St Matthew’s Boys’ School recommended for gallant and distinguished service in the field, viz: Sergt-Major John W Goddard, of the Royal Field Artillery, eldest son of Mr J Goddard, a former gymnastic instructor at Rugby School, and Corpl (now Lieut) A J Harris, of the Royal Engineers, formerly a member of Rugby School Officers’ Training Corps, son of Mr A Harris, Dunchurch Road.

In addition to being mentioned in despatches by Sir John French, Sergt-Major J W Goddard is included in the list published yesterday (Friday) of those on whom the King has bestowed the Military Cross.

“ ASHLAWN ” RED CROSS HOSPITAL

We much regret that owing to the shortness of time given by the War Office for preparing “Ashlawn” as a hospital it has been impossible to acknowledge all the kind gifts which were sent during the first few weeks for the equipment of this hospital.

In future we hope to acknowledge the weekly gifts in this paper, which are greatly appreciated by the patients. We take this opportunity of thanking all who have been good enough to send gifts.

Many people have also very kindly lent their cars for conveying patients to and from, and also for the use of the hospital.

RECRUITING AT RUGBY.

Recruiting still continues very slack at Rugby, only eight having been attested this week. They are :-R.W.R : J G Beasley and H S Mason. Hants Regiment : T Colledge and F H Spiers. R.A.M.C : F H D Moore, A P Webb, C Cook, and J H Wakelin.

We are informed that there are 16 regiments of Infantry which are open to men of a minimum height of 5ft 1in, but the chest standard of 34 1/2ins remains unaltered.

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