Son of Mrs M. Braitwaite of Auckland
John Braithwaite was one of 28 New Zealand servicemen who were court-martialled and sentenced to death during the First World War. He was one of 5 executed.
He was accused of mutiny after he and several Australian and Scottish prisoners were found guilty of provoking a strike in the military prison in Blargies, France where all were serving sentences for offences against military law. Conditions in the prison and punishments were severe and their protests resulted in Braithwaite being executed.
A Private Member's Bill was put before the New Zealand Parliament in September 1998 by the MP for Invercargill, Mark Peck, to pardon the soldiers executed. This became the Pardon for Soldiers of the Great War Act 2000 which pardoned the five soldiers. The purpose of the act was 'to remove so far as practicable, the dishonour that the execution of those five soldiers brought to those soldiers and their families.
Listed as embarked 1915, did not embark until 1916
War service: Egypt, Western Front
Disembarked Suez, 8 February 1916.
Transferred to 2nd Bn, Otago Infantry Regiment, 10 March 1916.
Admitted to No 2 NZ Field Ambulance, Moascar, 1 April 1916 (measles); transferred to No 1 NZ Stationary Hospital, 1 April 1916; discharged to duty, 5 April 1916.
Appointed Lance Corporal, 1 April 1916.
Embarked Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force, France, 9 April 1916.
Found guilty, 3 May 1916, of being absent without leave: deprived of Lance stripes, and forfeited 2 days' pay by Royal Warrant.
Found guilty, 13 June 1916, of (1) being absent without leave from Reveille, 30 May, till 9 pm, 31 May 1916; (2) stating a falsehood, to be an Officer; (3) being in possession of a document purporting to be a genuine pass, 31 May 1916: awarded 60 days' Field Punishment No 2, and forfeited 60 days' ordinary pay.
Found guilty by Field General Court Martial, 7 July 1916, of (1) when on Active Service absenting himself without leave; (2) when in confinement escaping: awarded imprisonment with hard labour for two years.
Found guilty by Field General Court Martial, 19 July 1916, of when on Active Service in confinement, escaping: awarded imprisonment with hard labour for two years. Sentences from 7 and 19 July to run concurrently.
Found guilty by General Court Martial, 11 October 1916, of at Blangies N., near Abancourt, on 28 August 1916, joining in a mutiny in Forces to which the Army is applied, as if they were Regular Forces: sentenced to suffer death by being shot.
Executed, Rouen, 6 am, 29 October 1916.
Forfeited entitlement to war medals.
In 2000 the New Zealand Government announced that the five New Zealand soldiers who had been executed during the First World War would be pardoned; in 2005 their descendants were granted the appropriate medals.
Medals: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal AWMM