By Tom Seymour
Thirty-five days into the First World War, Private Thomas Highgate, a 17-year-old farmhand, became the first British soldier to be executed for desertion.
During the Battle of Mons, Highgate fled the frontline. He hid in a barn in the nearby village of Tournan, a few miles south of the river, and was discovered wearing civilian clothes and asleep by a gamekeeper. He reportedly told the man: “I have had enough of it, I want to get out of it and this is how I am going to do it.’
He was court-martialled and found guilty the following day. Highgate did not speak …read more