List of New Zealand soldiers executed during World War I
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,
25 Aug 1916 Desertion Poor military/disciplinary record. Deserted en route to the front. John Sweeney 37 1st Bn,
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. John Braithwaite 31 2nd Bn,
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. John King 32 1st Bn,
19 Aug 1917 Desertion Long record of going absent, deserting and illness; perhaps alcoholic. Victor Spencer 23 1st Bn,
24 Feb 1918 Desertion Deserted from near the front line. Maori engineer in a non-Maori pioneer unit shell-shocked in July 1915.
- Pugsley, pp 104–121; Putkowski, pp 104–105; PRO: WO 213/10
- https://nzhistory.govt.nz/page/first-new-zealand-soldier-executed First New Zealand Soldier Executed
- Pugsley, pp 122–135; Putkowski, p. 117; PRO: WO 213/11
- https://www.smh.com.au/national/tale-of-tunneler-sweeney-highlights-terrible-darkness-of-war-20140424-zqyib.html Tale of Tunneler Sweeney
- Pugsley, pp 136–146; Putkowski, pp 126–127; PRO: WO 90/6; Personal service record, Jack Braithwaite
- https://teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/3b44/braithwaite-john John Braithwaite Biography
- Pugsley, pp 167–184; Putkowski, pp 184–186; PRO: WO 213/16
- Pugsley, pp 185–205; Putkowski, pp 53–54; PRO: WO 213/20
- Pugsley, Christopher (1991). On the Fringe of Hell. Auckland: Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 978-0-340-53321-5
- Putkowski, Julian & Sykes, Julian (1966). Shot at Dawn: Executions in World War One by Authority of the British Army Act. Barnsley: Pen & Sword ISBN 978-0-85052-613-4
- Public Record Office, London, Judge Advocate General's Register.
- Archives New Zealand, BRAITHWAITE, Jack - WW1 24/1521 - Army, Ref: AABK 18805 W5520/110.
- New Zealand Pardon for Soldiers of the Great War Act 2000
- The executed five Great War Story from nzhistory.net video
- The executed five Great War Story from newshub video