Deserters.

Oral Answers to Questions — British Army. – in the House of Commons on 22nd March 1922.

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Photo of Major Jack Cohen Major Jack Cohen , Liverpool Fairfield

74.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether there are still cases of desertion from the Army of men who were serving on duration-of-war attestations; and, if so, how such men are dealt with when they surrender themselves or bring their whereabouts to notice?

Photo of Mr Worthington Evans Mr Worthington Evans , Colchester

There are still some men unaccounted for who were serving on duration-of-war attestations. These men are not necessarily in a state of desertion, but they cannot be traced. Therefore, they have not been discharged from the Army. When such men surrender themselves or bring their whereabouts to notice as being in a state of desertion, their cases are immediately investigated and dealt with on their merits. The soldier is not withdrawn from his civil occupation except in abnormal circumstances sufficiently serious to necessitate trial by court martial. The usual procedure if the man voluntarily signs a confession of desertion is to dispense with his trial and carry out his discharge, which is done without the man leaving his civil occupation. It is only where there have been previous offences of desertion, or other serious offences, that any departure is made from the normal custom. Extenuating circumstances are taken into consideration in dealing with all cases. If the facts show that a man was irregularly released instead of being demobilised, then the only formality necessary is to effect his discharge forth- with. Men, therefore, who have not been released from their duration-of-war attestations by the issue of proper discharge or demobilisation papers should communicate by letter with the officer i/c records of the unit with which they served, giving their regimental numbers, names and particulars of service, in order that their cases may be dealt with in the manner described.