British Military & Criminal History
1900 to 1999.
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T/61711 Private Theodore John William Schurch, RASC, attached to RASC Woolwich Depot, was tried by General Court Martial (GCM) held at Duke of Yorks HQ, Chelsea SW3. The court was convened by Lieutenant-General Sir Charles Loyd, KCB, DSO, MC, commanding London District, Leconfield House, Curzon Street, London W1 on 10 September 1945.
The courts members when they first met on 12 September 1945, starting at 10.30 am were:
When Schurch was asked by the President if he objected to any of the courts members, Schurch asked the courts members to state their religion. In turn the courts members gave the following replies: Colvin, Bushman, Holmand, Egerton and Harbinson all stated that they were Church of England, Martin was Presbyterian and that Holland was Jewish. Schurch objected to the Jewish member. After a short adjournment, the court agreed to the objection and Major F.A. Holland was replaced on the panel by the Waiting Member Major M.H. Harbinson, RA.
Schurch faced nine counts under the Army Act (section 12) in that he committed a civil offence that is to say treachery contrary to Section 1 of the Treachery Act 1940.
In addition to these charges which carried a mandatory death sentence upon conviction, Schurch faced one count of Desertion (unlike the First World War, desertion during World War Two was not punishable with death).
Theodore Schurch pleaded not guilty to all ten charges.
The court then agreed an adjournment, as both the prosecution and defence stated that they had not had sufficient time to prepare their evidence. The President announced that the court would adjourn until 10.30 am on 17 September 1945.
When the court resumed five days later, the Prosecution was represented by Major Hillard and SQMS P.E. Girling, RASC, was the Shorthand Writer.
The Prosecution called the following people who confirmed their written statements, and identified Schurch as the person mentioned in their sworn statements.
Lieutenant G.G. Hardy, RNVR.
14264926 CSM G.Y. Thompson, SIB, Northern Command stated to the court that he had witnessed the typed statement of the accuseds signed statement.
Schurch did not call any witnesses in his defence, but he did give evidence under oath and was examined by his legal representative. Schurch was also cross-examined by the Prosecutor.
The court adjourned at 12.55 pm. When the court resumed at 1.20 pm, the court President announced that their findings would be promulgated to the accused. If the court had found Schurch not guilty, he would have been informed immediately by the court. Consequently, Schurch knew that he had been found guilty. In fact the court found him guilty of all ten charges.
Schurchs Army Form B296 (Character & Particulars of Accuseds Service) stated that he was entitled to the General Service Medal with Palestine clasp, and possibly the Africa Star. It also stated that Schurch had several previous offences: Stating a falsehood to a NCO, Absence from duty and two offences of being absent without leave. His age was given as 27 years 4 months.
Schurch was sentenced to death by hanging, and this was promulgated to Schurch, who was held at H.M.P. Pentonville, on 10 November 1945.
Theodore Schurch was hanged at Pentonville Prison on 4 January 1946; the day after the execution of William Joyce at Wandsworth Prison. The executioner, in both cases, was Albert Pierrepoint.
T/61711 Private Theodore John William Schurch, Royal Army Service Corps (RASC), is commemorated on the Brookwood Memorial . His entry is located on Panel 17, Column 3.
Theodore Schurch on the Brookwood Memorial (Stephen Stratford 2010).
The date of his death, which was obtained from the CWGC, is identical to the date of his execution at London's Pentonville Prison.