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Alexander Chisholm

14780 Acting Corporal Chisholm, of the 20th Fortress Company RE, was tried by General courts-martial at Armentieres on 10 May 1915 on the order of Major General Sir T.L. Keir, KCB, commanding 6th Division. The Court consisted of:

President:

Lieutenant-Colonel T.W. Towsey (1st West Yorks).

Members:

Major W.C.C. Bell (1st Middlesex).

Captain H.B. Potter (1st Buffs).

Captain T.A.C. Hamilton (1st  Cameronians).

Captain J.V. Macartney (2nd Leinster Regt).

Judge Advocate:

Major E.B. Luard DSO (1st KSLI).

Prosecutor:

Capt & Adj. W.H.A de la Pryne DSO (1st West Yorks).

The accused was asked if he objected to any of the officers on the tribunal, to which he replied no. The accused pleaded not guilty to the single charge:

in that he, at Bailleul, on 4 May 1915, when on active service, did feloniously, wilfully and of malice aforethought, kill and murder No. 348 Lance-Corporal Robert Lewis, 1st Glamorgan (Fortress) Company, Royal Engineers.

The first prosecution witness was Lieutenant R. CLAUDE, RAMC who testified that the victim was admitted to No. 8 Casualty Clearing Station suffering from a gunshot wound in the abdomen on 4 May 1915. He died at 1.25 pm the following day, the cause of death being the gunshot wound. The accused asked one question, confirming the cause of death. There was no re-examination by the prosecution.

The following witness was 4914 2nd Corporal T.H. FREEMAN, 20th Fortress Company Royal Engineers, then gave evidence to the effect that he saw the accused assume the firing position, about 20 yards away. He observed that 20 yards from the accused was Corporal Lewis who was staggering in the street outside their billet, the estauriet de Pelican. The rifle of the accused was pointing in the direction of Corporal Lewis. Freeman approached Chisholm who said he had shot his comrade, and Freeman should arrest him. He was then taken to the guard room under arrest. After examination by the accused the court adjourned at 1.30 pm.

At 2.30 pm the court re-assembled to hear more prosecution evidence from 19911 Sapper H. HARRIS, 20th Fortress Company RE. He confirmed that Freeman called for an escort for the prisoner, and that one shot was fired. Harris was then followed by two other prosecution witnesses: 1112 Driver G.L. WILLIAMSON, RFA and 463 Lance-Corporal W.H. HAURI, 1st Glamorgan Fortress Company RE.

The next witness 510 Sapper N. GRIFFITHS, 1st Glamorgan Fortress Company RE, stated that there had been frequent arguments between Lewis and the accused, about work and knocking off time. He also admitted that he heard Lewis threaten to report Chisholm about money matters concerning men who had signed the book for money they had not received.

The next three witnesses confirmed various aspects which had been mentioned by the previous witnesses: 6020 Sergeant C. SERIT, GMP 1st Brigade, 399 Driver W.H. WHITTAKER, S.M.F and 704 Sapper B.J. KENNEDY, Royal Engineers.

The accused then testified on his own behalf, and called a witness. He stated that Lewis had falsifying accounts. He then called 510 Sapper N. GRIFFTHS, 1st Glamorgan Fortress Company RE, who testified to the constant quarrels between Lewis and Chisholm about the quality of each others work. The prosecution declined to examine.

The accused was found guilty of the charge.

Major G.G. STEVENSON, 20th Fortress Company RE, stated that he could not produce any official documents concerning character and service but he made a statement. He said that the accused had joined his unit in October 1914 and had produced satisfactory work.

The accused was sentenced to death by hanging.

The accused was hanged in the Asylum at Armentieres on 17 May 1915 at 6.10 am. The witness stated that death had been instantaneous.

Alexander Chisholm, aged 31 years, is buried in Chapelle d’Armentieres Old Military Cemetery, Grave Reference B.27.

Robert Lewis was born in Whitchurch (Glamorgan) and enlisted at Cardiff. He is buried in Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension, Grave Reference II.A.172.

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