The heartbreaking stories of how these 8 Sheffield soldiers were shot for desertion during the First World War

Hundreds of Sheffield soldiers lost their lives during the First World War, but did you know that a total of eight men who came from the city were shot for desertion between 1914-18?

By Andy Done-Johnson
Thursday, 2nd July 2020, 3:00 pm

Perhaps the best documented is the case of Private Henry Hughes, who was shot by firing squad in April 1918.

The 29-year-old, who had served with the York and Lancaster Regiment had been sent out on a work party near Ypres but instead deserted.

He was found in February about eight miles from where he was last seen - a place called Poperinge, which served as a main military corridor to the front line.

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Did you know thee eight Sheffield soldiers were shot at dawn for desertion?

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A court martial was called and Hughes, who was described as being of no military use, was sentenced to death. The ruling was even supported by General Hague himself.

But five other Sheffield-born soldiers were also shot for desertion during the conflict.

They were Private James Haddock, 32, executed on September 16, 1916; Private Ernest Harris, 20, executed on February 3, 1917; Private Walter Dossett, 22, executed on June 25, 1918; Private George Ainley, 20, executed on July 30, 1918, Private Frank Bateman, 28, executed on September 10, 1918; Private George Ernest Roe, 19, executed on June 11, 1915; and Private Harry Poole, 22, executed on December 9, 1916.

In what is often seen as the darkest side of the bloody conflict, discipline was enforced with a rod of iron and desertion was tragically seen seen as simple cowardice.

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