Deserters and Absconders
Crew records show that between the period 27 May 1916 and 1 January 1920 while subject to Naval Discipline 148 crew members (both Officers and Ratings) were registered as having deserted. A further 16 were shown as being absentees without leave while 6 were just noted as having ‘failed to return to their ship’.
The ships with the worst record were RFA Fortol and RFA Petroleum both having recorded 19 crew members as having deserted.
A few records show that when arrested the deserter faced imprisonment. Deserter James Sutton, a Stoker from RFA Servitor was sentenced to 42 days hard labour when he was arrested on 27 April 1917. Others are noted as being sent to Naval Detention Quarters (DQ’s).