1st Battalion, The Cheshire Regiment
Soldiers of the 1st Bn. Cheshire Regiment - "Shot at dawn" During The Great War

©: G E Conway 2009
Private E J Conway (circa. 1905)
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The following 6 men of Cheshire Regiments were executed during the First World War.  Only two of them - Private 10263 J E Bolton and  Corporal 10459 G Povey - were of the 1st Battalion, although it seems that Corporal Povey joined as a replacement after the initial embarkation:



Joseph Edward BOLTON


Rank:
Private 10263
Age:
33
Date of Death:
14th April 1916 - Desertion


Additional Information:


Buried/Commemorated:


Grave Number:
II. F. 7.


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Ernest BRYANT


Rank:
Private 20101 (10th battalion)
Age:
33
Date of Death:
27th October 1917 - Desertion (repeat Offender)

Additional Information:


Buried/Commemorated:


Grave Number:
VI. H. 3


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           James CUTHBERT


Rank:
Private 28719 (9th Battalion)
Age:
20
Date of Death:
6th May 1916 - Disobedience


Additional Information:
Son of Mrs. Edith Cuthbert, of 61, Webster Street, Oldham, Lancs.

Buried/Commemorated:
Grave Number:
V. F. 71


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James HOLLAND


Rank:
Lance Corporal 13857 (10th Battalion)
Age:
31
Date of Death:
30th May 1916 - Quitting post


Additional Information:
Son of Samuel and Mary Holland, of Northwich, Cheshire.
Buried/Commemorated:
Grave Number:
II. E. 17.


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William Alfred MOON


Rank:
Lance Corporal 17790 (11th Battalion)
Age:
20
Date of Death:
21st November 1916 - Desertion


Additional Information:
Son of Mrs. M. Moon, of 5, Blue Coat School, Chester.
Buried/Commemorated:


Grave Number:
III. A. 219.


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Shot at dawn Memorial, National Arboretum
One stake for each man commemorated
The Cheshire Regiment has six men commemorated in the National Memorial Arboretum  - being named on the posts behind the sculpture.

The Memorial commemorates 306 soldiers "Shot at Dawn" (but not 40 others executed for murder and mutiny). The Memorial Statue is modelled on Pte. Herbert Burden. At the age of 16, Private Herbert Burden lied that he was two years older so he could join the Northumberland Fusiliers and fight in the war.

By the time he faced the firing squad on 21 July 1915, Pte Burden was 17 - still too young to even officially be in his regiment.






George POVEY


Rank:
Corporal 10459 (1st Battalion)
Age:
23
Date of Death:
11th February 1915 - Quitting post


Additional Information:
Son of Mrs. Dinah Povey, of 51, Primrose Street, Connah Quay.
Buried/Commemorated:


Grave Number:
Panel 19 - 22.


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George Henry Povey, born in Sealand in 1891, was one of the eight children of Dinah and Robert Povey. The 1901 Census records that the family lived at 2 Davies Cottages, Hawarden and were supported by the wages of Robert and his eldest son Thomas (18), who worked as sheet metal packers.

In December and January 1915, the 1st Battalion Cheshire Regiment was holding the line in the vicinity of Wulverghem in the Ypres Salient. Although there had been little movement by either the German or British positions for a couple of months, the General Staff were unsettled about the large scale unofficial truce that had recently taken place in no-man's land. Although men from the battalion had not fraternised with the enemy during the celebrated Christmas Truce, half a dozen other battalions from 5 Division, including from 1/6 Battalion Cheshire regiment had done so, and enjoyed a boisterous football match with the enemy.

After a couple of days, hostilities resumed and although the cold and muddy conditions at the front were unsuitable for major operations both sides were constantly probing the others defences. The latter activities included reconnaissance patrols or raids that were generally conducted at night. The procedure for dealing with these incidents generally stipulated that the enemy had to be repulsed and a warning had to be communicated to other troops in the sector, in the support trenches. However, because the night time raids were stealthily and swiftly executed, it would not have been unusual for the raiders to be back in their own lines before the victims of their attack were able to summon assistance from the support trenches.

If it appeared that a raid was likely to overwhelm soldiers in the British front line trenches, they were expected to fall back to designated support points, to rally and repel the incursion. This had already happened on numerous occasions and while many such retirements later proved to be false alarms, the soldiers who had been 'spooked' were subsequently punished, for quitting their posts. Of the latter, ten soldiers had been separately tried and sentenced to death by Field General Courts Martial for quitting their posts but thus far their punishments had been commuted to lesser, mostly custodial sentences.

The incident that led to Lance Corporal Povey being executed for Quitting his Post was essentially a false alarm. Although there is no reference to the weather conditions at 2.30.a.m. on 28 January, the weather in the sector had been changeable, with a good deal of freezing rain and fog restricting visibility. If that was indeed the case, there is nowhere any reference to the fact in any documentary evidence associated with Povey's case or for that matter, the cases of the other men who were put on trial.

On 8 February, Field Marshal confirmed the death sentence passed on Corporal Povey was executed at St. Jans Cappel in the Ypres Salient at 7.45 a.m. on 11 February 1915. If his executioners bothered to record where they buried Povey's body, the information did not survive the war and the NCO has no known grave though his name is engraved on the Menin Gate.

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