|A. B. Godefroy "For Freedom and Honour?"
In Godefroy's opinion, a perfect case to support the question of "pardons" is that of Company Quarter Master Sergeant William Alexander. He was born in England in 1880. After eight years with the British Army he emigrated to Canada and managed the Auto Tire & Vulcanizing Co, in Calgary. With the outbreak of war he joined the 10th (Alberta) Battalion at Valcartier Camp. As a consequence of his military experience he was made a Colour-Sergeant but on the reorganisation of the battalion reverted to that of Sergeant. Another of the first to go overseas, he reached France in February 1915. He was heavily involved in the Second Battle of Ypres. Canadian losses were extremely high. He went on to fight at Festubert and Mount Sorrel and the Somme. The 10th, or the "Old Red Patch", were considered "elite assault troops". The 1st. Division had never been beaten which held true at Vimy and Arleux. The attack on Hill 70 in August 1917, however, was to prove fatal for Alexander. Not at the hands of the enemy, but his comrades.
During the course of these battles, Alexander, had behaved "exceptionally well". Briefly absent through sickness a couple of times he was eventually hospitalised with a swollen knee. On discharge he joined his comrades for the attack on the well-fortified Hill 70. Previously, two British Divisions had been annihilated on its slopes. Although successful in taking the Hill, three hundred men, almost half the unit, were down. They were then ordered to attack the Quarry the following day. By then they were down to less than 130 men. Next, Alexander, as a platoon sergeant in D Company, was ordered to lead an attack on Chalk Quarry. When zero hour came he was missing and a corporal led instead. After twenty minutes vicious fighting and repeated counter-attacks by the Germans, the position was won. The 10th came out of the line having suffered 400 casualties and won more than 80 awards for bravery, including a posthumous Victoria Cross.
Two days later, Alexander was found in a village where the battalion had previously been billeted before the attack. He said he had been knocked down by a shell but had no visible injuries. He admitted he had not gone sick nor had he reported to a superior officer, but instead had gone back to where his battalion had been billeted. He had fought tenaciously with daring and courage under hellish conditions for thirty-three months, but in the end it counted for nothing. He was placed under arrest and one month later charged with desertion, sentenced to death and shot.
Canon Frederick George Scott was in a state of shock and the military authorities, probably feeling shamed, informed his kith and kin he had been killed in action. When eventually they did tell the family the truth, his brother in Winnipeg wrote back saying,
"But my lot was even worse than that, to be shot like a spy and a traitor to his country, that was the lot for my brother, even in death. He is still my brother and his noble spirit will live forever with me even in death, and his death was awful to be shot like a dog. ...May the Lord have mercy on the man who judged him, if he was wrong."