Military Discipline

By kind permission of John King, Author

Internal problems with the military at Grove Park would not normally be publicised but on 15 June the Lee Journal reported the proceedings two days earlier at the Court Martial at Middlesex County Hall, Westminster of Staff Sgt Myer Cohen who was pleading guilty to charges of obtaining money from recruits in return for staff appointments. A fee of £35 was involved but the prosecution did not understand his motive as he had recently become the beneficiary of a trust. Two weeks later the newspaper reported another offence when Captain Bennett was committed for trial by the Magistrate’s Court in Bromley on a charge of stealing £235 which he had received for payment of the men in his company. Yet another Court Martial was reported at the end of August when Acting Staff Sergeant Vince was charged with accepting inducements from recruits to be posted to Grove Park. Paradoxically the same issue reported that Acting Corporal Powell was pleading not guilty to receiving money at Grove Park where he had been working in the Pay Office, to transfer four men away to another depot in London. It was alleged in his defence that the men were Jewish, and that the treatment of Jews was very bad at Grove Park. Discipline, or lack of it, may also have been related to a story at the end of September that a new catering control system was to be instigated at the Camp in Grove Park Road as some soldiers were known to have been queuing up two or three times for meals. By 1917 there were severe food shortages in Britain and Grove Park’s residents suffered in spite of the surrounding farms. The shortages were to culminate in rationing the following year.

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