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Home - British Courts Martial - Capital Terms Imposed and Executed

Introduction

This article shows the use of Death Sentences by British Army Military courts-martials during the period 1914 to 1924.

This page shows the number of capital sentences passed, the offences that attracted the ultimate punishment, the rank of those persons sentenced and its distribution across the British Army.

It should also be remembered that British Army courts-martials also tried German Spies, and those people involved in the Irish Easter 1916 Rebellion. These figures are included in the following article.

Death Sentence Offences

The following table shows the offences which attracted death sentences. The percentage show the percentage of death sentences actually carried out for each offence.

Offence

Sentences

Executed

Percent

Desertion

2,004

272

14%

Sleeping at Post

449

2

0.5%

Cowardice

213

14

7%

Disobedience

120

4

3%

Murder

106

63

59%

Rebellion (Ireland)

93

15

16%

Quitting Post

82

6

7%

Striking Superior Officer

49

4

8%

Mutiny

55

15

27%

Offence against Inhabitant

22

3

14%

Espionage

18

10

56%

Treason

13

5

38%

Hostile Act

13

3

23%

Violence

12

2

17%

Insubordination

12

0

0%

Absence

8

0

0%

Sedition

8

0

0%

Aiding the Enemy

8

4

50%

Casting Away Arms

6

2

33%

Possessing Firearms

6

0

0%

Armed Robbery

3

3

100%

Plundering

3

0

0%

Drunk

4

0

0%

Threatening Senior Officer

2

1

50%

Offence against Martial Law

2

2

100%

Conspiracy

2

2

100%

Robbery

2

1

50%

Theft

2

0

0%

Attempted Assassination

1

1

100%

Attempted Murder

4

3

75%

Attempted Desertion

1

0

0%

Housebreaking

1

0

0%

Losing Army

1

0

0%

Rape

1

0

0%

Pillaging

1

1

100%

Aiding Enemy whilst POW

1

0

0%

Unspecified/Other

14

0

0%

TOTAL

3,342

438

13%

 

Death Sentences per Regiment

The following table shows the number of instances of death sentences for each regiment in the British Army. The number of death sentences actually carried out is shown as an absolute figure and as a percentage of that regiments total.

For details of the Middlesex and Royal Engineers soldiers who were sentenced to death and executed, please click on the appropriate regiment or corps name in this table.

Regiment

Sentences

Executed

Percent

Cavalry (all units)

26

0

0%

Royal Artillery (all units)

104

13

13%

Royal Engineers

13

5

38%

Coldstream Guards

8

1

13%

Grenadier Guards

12

0

0%

Scots Guards

2

1

50%

Irish Guards

7

3

43%

Welsh Guards

4

0

0%

Royal Scots

47

7

15%

Royal West Surrey

29

3

10%

East Kent

27

5

19%

Royal Lancaster

41

5

12%

Northumberland Fusiliers

66

8

12%

Royal Warwickshire

51

5

10%

Royal Fusiliers

64

8

13%

Liverpool Regiment

62

6

10%

Norfolk Regiment

22

1

5%

Lincolnshire Regiment

32

3

9%

Devonshire Regiment

14

1

7%

Suffolk

16

1

6%

Somerset Light Infantry

4

2

50%

West Yorkshire

44

12

27%

East Yorkshire

29

2

7%

Bedfordshire

22

0

0%

Leicestershire

34

2

6%

Royal Irish

12

0

0%

Yorkshire

30

2

7%

Lancashire Fusiliers

52

8

15%

Royal Scots Fusiliers

48

5

10%

Cheshire

25

6

24%

Royal Welsh Fusiliers

27

4

15%

South Wales Borderers

23

3

13%

King's Own Scottish Borderers

15

2

13%

Scottish Rifles

34

5

15%

Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers

29

5

17%

Gloucestershire

26

0

0%

Worcestershire

47

8

17%

East Lancashire

31

1

3%

East Surrey

53

5

9%

Duke of Cornwell's Light Infantry

18

1

6%

West Riding

22

1

5%

Border

17

3

18%

Royal Sussex

19

3

16%

Hampshire

14

1

7%

South Staffordshire

33

4

12%

Dorsetshire

7

2

29%

South Lancashire

25

6

24%

Welsh

34

6

18%

Royal Highlanders

28

5

18%

Oxford & Bucks. Light Infantry

4

0

0%

Essex

39

3

8%

Notts. & Derbyshire

39

8

21%

Loyal North Lancashire

31

5

16%

Northamptonshire

14

2

14%

Royal Berkshire

26

3

12%

Royal West Kent

15

2

13%

Yorkshire Light Infantry

49

3

6%

Shropshire Light Infantry

9

0

0%

Middlesex Regiment

49

8

16%

King's Royal Rifle Corps

57

11

19%

Wiltshire

15

3

20%

Manchester

63

7

11%

North Staffordshire

49

2

4%

York & Lancaster

53

8

15%

Durham Light Infantry

70

7

10%

Highland Light Infantry

59

5

8%

Seaforth Highlanders

16

1

6%

Gordon Highlanders

17

3

18%

Cameron Highlanders

10

3

30%

Royal Irish Rifles

63

5

8%

Royal Irish Fusiliers

29

2

7%

Connaught Rangers

17

1

6%

Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders

34

1

3%

Leinster

23

3

13%

Royal Munster Fusiliers

37

2

5%

Royal Dublin Fusiliers

22

3

14%

Rifle Brigade

50

3

6%

Honourable Artillery Company

0

0

0%

Monmouthshire Territorials

2

0

0%

Cambridgeshire Territorials

1

0

0%

London Territorials

63

5

8%

Herefordshire Territorials

0

0

0%

Machine Gun Corps

55

3

5%

Army Service Corps

14

1

7%

Royal Army Medical Corps

12

0

0%

D A C

14

0

0%

Royal Naval Division

7

1

14%

TOTAL

2,576

294

11%

 

Death Sentences per Rank

The following table list the death sentences passed and executed by rank. The percentage figure is the percentage of death sentences passed and actually carried out.

In the following table the term "Privates" also includes Rifleman, Gunner, Trooper, Driver, Sapper, Saddler, Able Seaman, Seaman, Sepoy, Bugler and Pioneer.

In the following table the term "NCOs" also includes Lance Corporal, Corporal, Lance Sergeant, Sergeant and Bombardier.

Rank

Sentences

Executed

Percent

Privates

2,938

316

11%

NCOs

134

24

18%

2nd/Sub Lieutenants

3

3

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