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Theodore Schurch

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Theodore William John Schurch 5 May 1918 – 4 January 1946 was a British soldier of Anglo-Swiss parentage who was executed by virtue of the Treachery Act 1940 after the end of World War II He was the last person to be executed in Britain for an offence other than murder


  • 1 Early life
  • 2 Betrayal
  • 3 Trial and execution
  • 4 References

Early life

Schurch was born in Queen Charlotte's Hospital, Hammersmith, London, while his Swiss father was living in Britain During his late teens Schurch was a member of the British Union of Fascists

In 1936 he enlisted in the British Army as a Royal Army Service Corps driver


During June 1942 Schurch was captured by Axis forces at Tobruk during the North African campaign Soon afterwards he began working for both Italian and German intelligence He often posed as a prisoner of war to gain the trust of Allied prisoners, including Colonel Sir David Stirling, initiator of the Special Air Service

Trial and execution

Schurch was arrested in Rome during March 1945, and charged with nine counts of treachery and one count of desertion He was tried by court martial at the Duke of York's Headquarters in Chelsea, London during September 1945, Major Melford Stevenson presiding He was defended by Alexander Brands KC He was found guilty of nine charges of treachery and one of desertion with intent to join the enemy

Schurch was hanged on 4 January 1946 at HM Prison Pentonville, at the age of 27 His execution was performed by Albert Pierrepoint

British Security Service files on him are possessed by The National Archives under references KV2/76 and KV 2/77 Papers in connection with his court martial are held there under reference WO 71/1109

Schurch was the only British soldier executed for treachery committed during World War II However, Duncan Scott-Ford, a merchant seaman, was also hanged for treachery, and New-Zealand-born Captain Patrick Stanley Vaughan Heenan of the British Indian Army was convicted of espionage, and shot by a guard Harold Cole, a British POW who betrayed the French Resistance was shot dead by the French police during January 1946, a month after he escaped from custody

Civilians William Joyce and John Amery were executed for treason, a different offence


  1. ^ Graham Macklin 2007 Very deeply dyed in black: Sir Oswald Mosley and the resurrection of British fascism after 1945 International Library of Political Studies 14 IBTauris p 34 ISBN 1-84511-284-9 
  2. ^ a b c d Macintyre, Ben 2016 Rogue Warriors New York: Crown Publishing Group pp 177–178,189–190,203–204,350–351 ISBN 9781101904169 
  3. ^ "News in Brief" Times, London, England, 3 Jan 1946: 4 The Times Digital Archive Web 20 Mar 2015
  4. ^ "Soldier Executed" Times, London, England, 5 Jan 1946: 2 The Times Digital Archive Web 20 Mar 2015
  • Norman Davies 2008 Europe at War 1939–1945: No Simple Victory Pan Macmillan p 234 ISBN 0-330-47229-1 
  • "Soldier Accused Of Aiding Enemy" Times, London, England, 13 Sept 1945: 2 The Times Digital Archive Web 19 Feb 2015
  • "Private Accused Of Treachery" Times, London, England, 18 Sept 1945: 2 The Times Digital Archive Web 19 Feb 2015

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