258: St. Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage 1723: Hermann Christian von Wolffradt, Chancellor of Mecklenburg-Schwerin

1915: Peter Sands, home leave

September 15th, 2015 Headsman

Irish lance corporal Peter Sands was shot as a deserter one hundred years ago today at Fleurbaix, near Armentières.

Sands, a nine-year veteran age 26 or 27, left the Royal Irish Rifles with another soldier on a home leave pass in February 1915 and returned to his family in Belfast.

Sands had a pass for four days. Instead, he stayed for five months — openly living with his wife, and wearing his military uniform, until some unknown busybody turned him in as a deserter that July.

He would tell his court-martial that he had lost his travel documents to return to the horrible front, and had been blown off when he visited a Belfast barracks to see about a replacement. He did not aim to desert, he insisted; “Had I intended to desert I would have worn plain clothes, but up to that time I was arrested I always wore uniform.” It is not so hard to reach Corporal Sands, psychologically — a man perhaps indulging a lethal opiate of denial. Suppose his “desertion” began with a good-faith mishap and thereafter did not last for five months, but just for one day more … day upon day.

He had no pass, so what was he to do next? He stayed in Belfast with his wife and daughter wearing his service duds while he contemplated that question. (Who can say whether he contemplated it in bemusement or terror.) He stayed every day in March, and it became every day in April, and every day in May and June, too. Nobody came for him on any of those days.

Had his war ended, then? Had he somehow slipped the toils of the machine back to a domestic idyll?

Maybe he truly had … but for that anonymous snitch.

Even if it had to be reminded of its prodigal corporal’s absence, His Majesty’s royal meatgrinder expected a little more hustle from its meat than one barracks call in five months: while Sands was at home, his mates had gone out of the trenches in the Battle of Neuve Chapelle (11,000+ British casualties), and the disastrous* Battle of Aubers Ridge (another 11,000+).

His commanding officer “consider[ed] this a bad case of desertion and I recommend that the sentence be carried out.” And it was.

Sands was buried at a nearby churchyard, but his resting-place was lost during the war. He has a marker at Cabaret-Rouge Military Cemetery at Souchez.

* The report of the Times from Aubers Ridge — headlined “Need for shells: British attacks checked: Limited supply the cause: A Lesson From France” — precipitated the “Shell Crisis of 1915”.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Desertion,England,Execution,France,History,Ireland,Military Crimes,Shot,Soldiers,Wartime Executions

Tags: , , , , , ,

5 thoughts on “1915: Peter Sands, home leave”

  1. It appears that you’ve mentioned the name “Peter Sands” and “home leave” without providing additional context or a specific question. Peter Sands is a name that may refer to multiple individuals, and “home leave” can have different meanings depending on the context.

  2. The day of the adoption was a joyful one. Georgia, once a timid stray, walked proudly on a leash, tail wagging with excitement. As Emily and Mark welcomed her into their home, they promised her a life filled with love, walks in the park, and cozy cuddles on the couch.

  3. baly says:

    Peter Sands and their home leave in 1915. It’s possible that this refers to a person or visit http://educationplannet.com/ for an event that is not widely known or documented. If you have any additional details or context, I might be able to assist you further.

  4. baly says:

    Peter Sands and home leave in 1915. It’s possible that this refers to a person or event that is not widely known or documented. If you have any additional details or context, I might be able to assist you further.

  5. hitting the slopes, take the time to break in your new boots. Wear them around the site https://remedialshrooms.com/ for house or during short sessions on the mountain to allow the boots to mold to your feet and become more comfortable. This will prevent any discomfort or blisters during longer rides.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


September 2015
« Aug   Oct »



Execution Playing Cards

Exclusively available on this site: our one-of-a-kind custom playing card deck.

Every card features a historical execution from England, France, Germany, or Russia!