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Saturday 6 March 1915 - Evesham man shot as a deserter

Category World War I: News of men at the Front
The Evesham Journal
Transcription of article

As there are many rumours in the town with regard to the death of an Evesham soldier named Albert Pitts – a matter to which we personally did not propose to refer – Mrs. Pitts, of 22 King’s Road, Bengeworth, asks us to publish the facts of the case as she knows them.

In the last week in November Mrs. Pitts received a letter from her husband, in which he stated: “I have been lost two weeks, but I have got on the right track for the regiment. ..................I can say I am writing this from Calais, only twenty-one miles from old England. ..............I have met a few Englishmen on a boat.” On December 1st he wrote: “it leaves me quite well at present except my ears. I am gone quite deaf now, but I think it will go off. I have been struggling along. I have not had a chance to find my regiment, for you cannot understand the French. They direct you wrong but I shall find them just now.”

On January 21st he wrote a letter which he addressed from his company of the Warwickshire Regiment, giving the division and the brigade numbers. In this letter he said he did not receive the Christmas parcel his wife had sent. This letter is endorsed as follows:- “Pte Pitts was absent during Christmas without leave and naturally his present has not reached him. – Censor.” 

Mrs. Pitts heard nothing further  until Wednesday morning of this week, when she received the following letter:- “ Infantry Record Office, The Old Barracks, Warwick, March 2nd, 1915.   – Madam. – No 8747 Pte. Alfred Pitts, 2nd battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regt. Was sentenced after trial by court-martial to be shot for “when on active service deserting his Majesty’s service, and the sentence was duly executed on February 8th,1915. At 7.30 a.m. R.F. Formby, Lieut-Col., for Brigadier-General i/c Infantry Records. No. 7 district.”  Mrs. Pitts communicated with the authorities at Warwick as to her husband’s Christian name, and was informed that her husband had signed the names of Alfred and Albert.

Yesterday (Friday) morning Mrs. Pitts received the following letter from her husband. The letter bears no address or date, but was forwarded from Warwick: - “My dearest wife and kiddies – just a few lines in answer to your loving letter I received quite safe. Well I expect this will be the last letter from me, my dear, as I have got to be shot for being absent; but I could not help it. I tried to find my regiment. I did my very best, but it can’t be helped. My dear, I wish I could have seen you all. You must try and do your best for kiddies. I should not upset myself. My dear, I did my duty before I was absent.  It has all been trouble with us – I was very unlucky. I am so sorry to have to write a letter like this, my dear. I am quite done up. I did not think I should have to come to an end like this, dear. I would sooner have been shot by a German. Well, I must close now, darling, for the last time. Try and forget me, for your broken-hearted husband, Bert. Do your best for my dear kiddies, God bless them. May he always be with you and them.” Here follow a number of crosses which represent kisses.

Mrs. Pitts has three young children, the eldest seven years of age. Pitts had served twelve years with the Warwicks.and was a reservist at the outbreak of hostilities, when he signed on for another four years.