Why are you wearing that uniform?

Nothing else to wear

Badge of the Highland Light Infantry

On 7 November 1914, Henry Vincent Scully, gardener, of Rye Street, was summoned for unlawfully wearing a soldier’s uniform (contrary to the Uniform Act 1894) and further with aiding and assisting a soldier to desert.  The defendant appeared in Court in the uniform of the Highland Light Infantry.

PC Briden stated that on Saturday afternoon October 31st, from information received, he went to the Plough public house, Rye Street, and in the tap room saw the defendant dressed in a khaki military uniform.  He asked defendant if he was on leave and defendant replied “No, I have my discharge from the Army” and at PC Briden’s request, he produced it. It was dated October 20th 1914.  When asked why he was wearing a military uniform, the defendant stated that since his discharge he had been wandering about and staying at lodging houses.

Defendant’s evidence

On Thursday October 29th he said he was at a lodging house in Drury Lane, London in company with a soldier belonging to the Highland Light Infantry.  They went into a convenience and the soldier asked him to put his uniform on “to see if their ‘pals’ knew him”.  He did so and went out, but on returning to change back again he found that the soldier and his civilian clothes had disappeared and he had since been wearing the soldier’s uniform as he had no other clothes to put on.  The uniform was complete with the exception of the numerals and badge.

In reply to a question from the Bench, Scully said he had been employed in London as a clerk and also at a cocoa factory. He joined the 11th Hussars on the outbreak of war and after 48 days was discharged as medically unfit. He put the uniform on as a joke and afterwards found that the soldier had “bolted” with his (defendant’s) civilians clothes.  He came home to Bishop’s Stortford because he had no other. The Justices’ Clerk remarked that although he came home on Thursday he was still wearing the uniform on Saturday. Scully said there were no other clothes at home for him to wear.  He had made up his mind to go back to London and forward the uniform to the officer commanding the Highland Light Infantry with a letter explaining how he came by it.

Verdict

The Chairman told defendant that he was liable to a fine of £5 for wearing the uniform, but taking into consideration the fact that he had been locked up for four days, they would now let him off with a caution.  But he must be more careful in future and must get out of the military clothes before he left the police station. Scully’s mother, who was in Court, produced a suit of civilian clothes and he was conducted to the police cells to change.

This page was added on 03/06/2013.

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