|Death: ||Aug. 11, 1916|
Casualty of the Great War,Private William Nelson of the 14th Bn. Durham Light Infantry~Service No:14387, was shot at dawn after he "deliberately absented himself, with the sole object of avoiding duty in the trenches". Although he had absconded three times before - because of serious family problems - when he was arrested he had gone to the canteen to eat his first meal in days because he had been on restricted rations while carrying out his punishment for stealing an officer's puttees. One of his superiors said: "This is a bad case of deliberate desertion to avoid duty in the trenches by an old offender. Private Nelson is not a good fighting soldier. I recommend that the sentence of death be carried out ... If [it] is commuted ... it will encourage others."
He was 22 and the son of Henry Nelson of 10 Back Adelaide Row, Seaham Harbour and the late Alice.
He is additionally commemorated on theThe Shot at Dawn Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum near Alrewas, in Staffordshire, England, in memory of the 306 British and Commonwealth soldiers executed after courts-martial for cowardice and desertion during World War I.The memorial portrays a young British soldier blindfolded and tied to a stake ready to be shot by a firing squad.
It is surrounded by a semicircle of stakes on which are listed the names of every soldier executed in this fashion.In 2007, the Armed Forces Act 2006 was passed allowing the soldiers to be pardoned, although section 359(4) of the act states that the pardon "does not affect any conviction or sentence." The real usual cause for their offences has been re-attributed in modern times to post-traumatic stress syndrome and combat stress reaction.
Soldiers accused of cowardice were often not given fair trials; they were often not properly defended, and some were under age.
Acheux British Cemetery
Departement de la Somme
Plot: Plot 1. Row B. Grave 8.
Maintained by: geoffrey gillon
Originally Created by: CWGC/ABMC
Record added: Aug 06, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 56054674
Added: Mar. 14, 2014
Added: Oct. 14, 2012
Added: Sep. 15, 2012