Private David Stevenson (52128), a member of 13th Battalion Middlesex Regiment, had absconded whilst in a forward area, and remained at large for seven weeks.
Details of this offence were posted in Rouen on 2 August 1918. He was then seen in a village, located in the rear. When he was questioned, Stevenson claimed that he was working for the town’s mayor. Unfortunately for Stevenson, he was already under a suspended sentence for a previous desertion conviction.
The recollections of the NCO in charge of Stevenson’s firing squad was published after the war:
It was a terrible scene, being that I knew him made it worse for me. The ten men were selected from a few details left out of the line. They were nervous wrecks themselves, and two of them had not the nerve to fire. Of course, they were courts-martialed but they were found to be medically unfit – their nerves had gone … The last words the lad said were “What will my Mother say?”
Private David Stevenson was shot at 03:57am on 18 July 1918. The execution took place in the mining village of Bully-Grenay, near Lens in Northern France. He was the last member of the Middlesex Regiment executed during the First World War.
Stevenson is buried in Bully-Grenay Communal Cemetery (British Extension), Grave Reference V.G.1.