Deserted and Re-Enlisted Twice

By Rosemary Bailey

This article was published in the December 2021 edition of Soul Search, the Journal of The Sole Society

Well, not quite, but two members of a family who deserted and re-enlisted.
I volunteer at a group for adults with learning disabilities and Martin, one of the other volunteers, brought some military memorabilia from the first and second world war to the session the day before Remembrance Day to show our members You can see a photo below.
Martin was telling me the family story of how both his great uncle on his father’s side and his grandfather on his mother’s side deserted from the forces and then re-enlisted. Neither are our surnames, but it is an interesting story.
Martin’s maternal grandfather, William Thomas Wayland (born c1888), joined the Royal Navy in 1911 and at some point he was required to be able to swim a short distance which William knew he wouldn’t be able to do, so instead he deserted. In 1914 he re-enlisted in the 8th Devon Regiment using the name Royston Malcolm Scott. He was shot and wounded in 1916 at which point he owned up to who he really was and as Martin put it the military ‘couldn’t care less’. He ended the war in the Military Police. from I took a look at his records on Ancestry and his Navy records show in the discharge comments the words ‘Run Chdt’ so I’m not sure what that means, but in the remarks section it says the sum of £25 3s 16d wasn’t claimed for as he joined the army. Ancestry has records for his service in the Military Foot Police Corps.
Martin’s great uncle on his father’s side, Joseph Cutler (born c1889), joined the Durham Light Infantry during the first world war and later deserted. He was able to enlist in the Royal Navy in 1917 with only a mild reprimand!

Martin and his collection of WWI and WWII memorabilia