Lance Corporal 19/158, 19th Btn D.L.I. Died 18 Jan 1917. Shot by order of Field General Court Marshall. PARDONED 2006. St Pol Communal Cemetery Extension, Pas de Calais, France
One name that did not appear on the plaques in 1921 was that of Peter Goggins. Peter was a South Moor miner who had enlisted with the 19th ‘Bantam’ Battalion Durham Light Infantry and was sent to France in February 1916. Just before he left, he married Margaret Rowley, who set up home at 58 South Street, near the corner of Hustledown Road. Peter was court marshalled for desertion on Christmas Eve 1916 in spite of evidence he was following orders given by a retreating sergeant. He was one of three soldiers from 19th DLI executed by firing squad in January 1917 for deserting their post. All 306 soldiers of the First World War who were shot at dawn for cowardice or desertion were granted posthumous pardons in 2006.
An eye-witness account of the executions by Ernest Thurtle was printed in 1925.
He wrote: “I helped carry those bodies towards their last resting place; Acting on instructions I took all their belongings from the dead men’s tunics (discarded before being shot).
“A few letters, a pipe, some fags, a photo. I could tell you of the silence of the military police after reading one letter from a little girl to ‘Dear Daddy’, of the chaplain’s confession that braver men he had never met than those three men.”
For further details see: North East War Memorials Project and Northern Echo