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Jesse Robert Short a corporal in the 24th Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers was executed on 4th October 1917 for attempted mutiny during the disturbances at the British army base camp at Etaples.
On 11 September, he apparently incited men in a piquet to lay down their arms and attack one of their officers, Captain Wilkinson: 'That Buggar ought to have a rope tied around his neck with a stone on it and be chucked into the River.'
Despite his previously good disciplinary record, Short's execution was confirmed by Haig on 30 September 1917.
He appears to have been made a scapegoat, nobody else was executed for their part in the Etaples mutiny. The story of Jesse, who lived with his wife Dinah at 11 Parkinson Street, Felling is below.

Mutiny at Etaples
Jesse Robert Short spent 2 years at the front in Ypres got wounded and sent to Etaples. Etaples was a training camp for front
line veterans undergoing refresher training at Etaples 'Bull Ring'. The trainers (budgies) used to brutalise there charges. Jesse Short being a hardened Western front man, would not put up with it and stood up to the regime and the officer Captain Wilkinson.
He was charged with endeavouring to persuade persons in His Majesty's Regular Forces to join in a mutiny, in that he at Etaples, on the 11th September 1917, endeavoured to persuade a Picquet not to listen to their officers but to lay down their arms and go with him and referring to the Officer in Command of the Picquet, said to the Picquet, "you ought to get a rope, tie it round his neck with a stone and throw him into the river," or words to that effect.
This is what Captain Wilkinson had to say:
Capt. E.F. Wilkinson, 8th West Yorkshire Regiment, states:
On the afternoon of the 11th instant, I was in charge of a Picquet of 150 armed and 50 unarmed men on the Bridge over the River Canche leading from Etaples to Paris- Plage. .At about 9.15 pm about 80 men marched towards the Bridge from Etaples, some of them armed with sticks and notice boards. The Picquet failed to stop these men from crossing the Bridge. The accused detached himself from this party and while I was addressing my Picquet and remonstrating with them for failing to stand-fast. The accused started haranguing them. Referring to me he said “you want to put a rope round that buggar's neck tie a stone to it and throw him into the River", and he told the men that they should not listen to me. Within a few minutes I was able to get the accused arrested. His second in command had this to say:
2nd. Lieut. C.D. Thompson 11th. West Yorkshire Regiment, states:
On the 11/9/1917 I was one of the Officers with a Picquet on the Bridge over the river Canche leading from Etaples to Paris - Plage. Between 9 and 10 pm the accused started interrupting Capt. Wilkinson, who was talking to his Picquet, and among other things he said to the Picquet "Don't listen to that bloody Officer" and told them to come along. Referring to Capt. Wilkinson he said, "That buggar ought to have a rope tied round his neck with a stone on it and be chucked into the River".
Short was unarmed.
Both Officers were armed.
Short got charged as the leader of the mutiny, and was shot at the stake in secret, a few weeks’ later miles away from the camp.
So no one at the camp new what happened to him.

The book and film the 'Monocled Mutineer' was said to be based on Short and the mutiny at Etaples. Percy Toplis was never anywhere near Etaples in the whole war.
So who was the true 'Monocled Mutineer'
Was it Percy Toplis or the lad from Felling Jesse Robert Short
What a brave lad he stood up to the establishment on his own and the scumbag officers had him dragged away and shot in secret.
 'It is doubtful that his wife ever knew what really happened to him.'

Extracts from the field general court martial

Short, a corporal in the 24th Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers was executed on 4th October 1917 for attempted mutiny during the disturbances at the British army base camp at Etaples.
On 11 September, he apparently incited men in a picquet to lay down their arms and attack one of their officers, Captain Wilkinson: 'That Buggar ought to have a rope tied around his neck with a stone on it and be chucked into the River.'
Despite his previously good disciplinary record, Short's execution was confirmed by Haig on 30 September 1917.
He appears to have been made a scapegoat: nobody else was executed for their part in the Etaples mutiny.

Transcript
Field general court martial
Catalogue reference: WO 71/599 (Sep 1917)

Not more than six names to be entered on one form. Date 12th September 1917.
No. and Name of Alleged Offender
(a) Offence charged Plea Finding, and if Convicted, Sentence
(b) How dealt with by Confirming Officer
No. 626. Corporal Jesse Robert Short. 24th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers.
Endeavouring to persuade persons in His Majesty's Regular Forces to join in a mutiny, in that he at Etaples, on the 11th September 1917, endeavoured to persuade a Picquet not to listen to their officers but to lay down their arms and go with him and referring to the Officer in Command of the Picquet, said to the Picquet, "you ought to get a rope, tie it round his neck with a stone and throw him into the river," or words to that effect.
Pleaded Not Guilty
Found Guilty.
To suffer death by being shot. [Word and signature not clearly legible]

Confirmed D. Haig. FM 30 Sep.17

(a) If the name of the person charged is unknown, he may be described as unknown, with such addition as will identify him.
(b) Recommendation to mercy to be inserted in this column

[handwritten signature not clearly legible]

Convening Officer. K R Balfour

President.

Summary of Evidence in the case of No. 626 Corpl. Jesse Robart Short
24th. Northumberland Fusiliers.

Ist. Witness:- Capt. E.F. Wilkinson, 8th. West Yorkshire Regiment, states:-
On the afternoon of the 11th. instant, I was in charge of a Picquet of 150 armed and 50 unarmed men on the Bridge over the River Canche leading from Etaples to Paris-Plage. At about 9-15 p.m. about 80 men marched towards the Bridge from Etaples, some of them armed with sticks and notice boards. The Picquet failed to stop these men from crossing the Bridge.
The accused detached himself from this Party and while I was addressing my Picquet and remonstrating with them for failing to stand-fast the accused started haranguing them. Referring to me he said “you want to put a rope round that Buggar's neck tie a stone to it and throw him into the River", and he told the men that they should not listen to me. Within a few minutes I was able to get the accused arrested.

(Signature) E F Wilkinson Capt.

(Handwritten) The accused declines to cross [examine] this Witness.

2nd. Witness:-

2nd. Lieut. C.D. Thompson, 11th. West Yorkshire Regiment, states:-
On the 11/9/1917 I was one of the Officers with a Picquet on the Bridge over the River Canche leading from Etaples to Paris-Plage. Between 9 and 10 p.m. the Accused started interrupting Capt. Wilkinson, who was talking to his Picquet, and among other things he said to the Picquet "Don't listen to that bloody Officer" and told them to come along. Referring to Capt. Wilkinson he said, "That Buggar ought to have a rope tied round his neck with a stone on it and be chucked into the River".

(Signature) [Charles] D. Thompson 2l/Lt.

(Handwritten) The accused declines to cross examine this Witness.

(Signature)
K R Balfour Maj. President. F Ellis (unclear)


 

GFCM Documents

 

Jesse Robert Short Lance Corporal 26/626
24th Battalion (Tyneside Irish) Northumberland Fusiliers
Died on 4th October 1917 aged 30
Son of William and Margaret Eleanor Short.
Husband of Dinah Short of 11 Parkinson Street. Felling. Gateshead.
Boulogne Eastern Cemetery. Grave Reference: VIII. I. 43.

Jesse Robert Short married Dinah Lowe in Gateshead September 1/4 1911
2 daughters:
Margaret H. Short born March 1912 in Gateshead
Mary A. Short born March 1914 in Gateshead
(Jesse Robert Short born Sep.  1886 at Bedwelty Monmouthshire Wales)
(Dinah Lowe born 1886 Corwen Denbighshire Wales)

 

Jessie is buried at Bologne Eastern Cemetery Gr. Mem Ref. VIII. I. 43.
See below and above left.


Update November 17. Report on BBC Look North of a Blue Plaque erected near spot where the 'Monocled Mutineer' was shot in Cumbria. This story of Percy Topliss the subject of a serial drama on BBC about 20 years ago may be apocryphal and Lance Corporal Jesse Robert Short is being ignored.
 

It would be nice to see a blue plaque placed in Felling Metro Station with the simple words.
"Lance Corporal Jesse Robert Short. A resident of Felling. Shot at Dawn. 4.10. 1917" but it will never happen. No one local knows the story of Jesse Robert Short or cares. 'We Will Remember Them' to me is merely a platitude and is muttered by some who will and millions who will not.
Parkinson St was along Split Crow Rd. Top of the Felling HighSt, turn right, about 200 yards on the left.

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