List of New Zealand soldiers executed during World War I

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The following soldiers serving on the Western Front with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force were executed for military offences during World War I. The executions, carried out by firing squad, were not made public at the time. All five were posthumously pardoned on 14 September 2000, when New Zealand's Pardon for Soldiers of the Great War Act became law. The bill was presented by Mark Peck, Member of Parliament for Invercargill. The vote was 112 for the motion and five against.

Name Age Unit Executed Offence Notes
Frank Hughes 28 2nd Bn,
Canterbury Regt
25 Aug 1916 Desertion Poor military/disciplinary record. Deserted en route to the front. [1]
John Sweeney 37 1st Bn,
Otago Regt
2 Oct 1916 Desertion An Australian of Tasmanian origin. His brother died on the Western Front in 1918 and his father committed suicide in 1925, just before details of execution were made public.[2]
John Braithwaite 31 2nd Bn,
Otago Regt
29 Oct 1916 Mutiny Prior to the war had worked as a journalist in Australia. After being incarcerated for repeatedly being AWOL, he was accused of instigating a prison riot, although he claimed that he only involved himself in an attempt to calm it.[3]
John King 32 1st Bn,
Canterbury Regt
19 Aug 1917 Desertion Long record of going absent, deserting and illness; perhaps alcoholic.[4]
Victor Spencer 23 1st Bn,
Otago Regt
24 Feb 1918 Desertion Deserted from near the front line. Maori engineer in a non-Maori pioneer unit shell-shocked in July 1915.[5]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Pugsley, pp 104–121; Putkowski, pp 104–105; PRO: WO 213/10
  2. ^ Pugsley, pp 122–135; Putkowski, p. 117; PRO: WO 213/11
  3. ^ Pugsley, pp 136–146; Putkowski, pp 126–127; PRO: WO 90/6; Personal service record, Jack Braithwaite
  4. ^ Pugsley, pp 167–184; Putkowski, pp 184–186; PRO: WO 213/16
  5. ^ Pugsley, pp 185–205; Putkowski, pp 53–54; PRO: WO 213/20