Victor Silvester, world famous dance orchestra leader
Victor Silvester was born in 1900. On the outbreak of the war he ran away from Ardingly College and he was fighting on the Western Front at fifteen. Victor's parents suspected he had joined the army and informed the authorities in 1914 but it was not until he was wounded in 1917 that he was discovered and brought home to England
In an interview he gave just before his death in 1978, Victor Silvester described how he was ordered to execute a man for desertion:
"The victim was brought out from a shed and led struggling to a chair to which he was then bound and a white handkerchief placed over his heart as our target area. He was said to have fled in the face of the enemy.
The tears were rolling down my cheeks as the victim tried to free himself from the ropes attaching him to the chair. I aimed blindly and when the gunsmoke had cleared away we were further horrified to see that, although wounded, the man was still alive. Still blindfolded, he was attempting to make a run for it still strapped to the chair. The blood was running freely from a chest wound. An officer in charge stepped forward to put the finishing touch with a revolver held to the poor man's temple.
He had only once cried out and that was when he shouted the one word 'mother'. He could not have been much older than me. We were told later that he had in fact been suffering from shell-shock, a condition not recognised by the army at the time. Later I took part in four more such executions."
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