Schurch & The Times

There were members of the press present during the court-martial of Theodore John William Schurch.

The Times Thursday 13 September 1945


Private Theodore John William Schurch, of the Royal Army Service Corps, appeared at a Chelsea court-martial yesterday on charges of aiding the enemy while serving as a member of H.M. Forces and of desertion with intent to join the enemy. There were in all 10 charges.

It was stated that the only penalty that can be inflicted if he should be found guilty of nine of the charges is death.

Schurch, who successfully objected to a Jewish officer taking part in the court, pleaded “Not Guilty” to al the charges.

The charges included the following:

  • In North Africa on or about 13 September 1942, with intent to help the enemy he did an act designed or like to give assistance to the enemy by obtaining information from members of H.M. Forces who were prisoners of war in enemy hands relating to the naval and military operations of H.M. Forces at Torbruk and communicated the information to the enemy.
  • At Benghazi or or about 14 September 1942, committed a similar offence relating to information about the long-range desert group.
  • On or about October 1942, obtained information from members of H.M. Forces, having as an enemy agent entered the British lines, and re-crossed the enemy lines and communicated the information to an enemy.
  • At Benghazi about November 1942, remained as an enemy agent in Benghazi when the city was captured by H.M. Forces and crossed the enemy lines to communicate the information to the enemy.
  • Deserting in North Africa in October 1942, with intent to join the enemy.

The hearing was adjourned until Monday.

The Times Tuesday 18 September 1945



Theodore John William Schurch, private in the RASC, stationed at Woolwich, appeared at a resumed court-martial in Duke of York’s Barracks, Chelsea, yesterday, on nine charges of treachery and one of desertion with intent to join the enemy.

The court-martial had been adjourned from Wednesday, when Schurch, having successfully objected to a Jewish officer being a member of the court, pleaded “Not Guilty” to all the charges.

After a three-hour hearing and an absence of 20 minutes the court informed Schurch that their findings would be promulgated.

Major R. A. L. Hillard, prosecuting, said that in seven cases the prosecution alleged that Schurch mixed intentionally with British prisoners of war held in enemy hands, obtained information from them on various topics, and handed it to the enemy.

In a statement, which the prosecution said had been made by Schurch, he said he was a Swiss subject born in London, baptised at the Swiss Schurch, London, and registered as a Swiss citizen. He lived with his parents at Stoke Newington, Stamford Hill and eventually in North Wembley, and worked with several firms in the Wembley area as a costing accountant.

The alleged statement went on to say that Schurch, with the idea of getting across the lines and contacting Italian intelligence, began agitating for posting to a front line unit. He

came under Italian intelligence control, getting information from prisoners of war, particularly officers, and crossing the lines and getting specific information from the British.

He had also worked for the Germans, and on several occassions posed as a British prisoner in civilian clothes to obtain information.

Lieutenant G. G. Hardy, Lieutenant J. Bromage and Lieutenant Hart, all naval officers, gave evidence of efforts made by Schurch to obtain information from them after they had been captured.

In evidence, Schurch said that it was true that he became a Fascist when he was a boy. At some length he explained that he did so because he believed that he was persecuted in school. He only gave the Italians information which he knew they already had. He never gave accurate information to the enemy, but false information.

Addressing the court, the Judge Advocate recalled the terms of the act, which outlined treachery, and emphasised that for treachery an accused

shall on conviction suffer death.

Lieutenant Brands, addressing the court for the defence, said Schurch was introduced into the British Union of Fascists when he was 16 and rapidly assimilated their doctrines.

Many more illustrious people than himself held these views. On the orders of the Fascist Union he joined the British Army, and on the order of the Fascist Union he went oversea.

He was a poor, uneducated fool who was caught young when he knew no better and jockeyed into a position from which he could not recover.

The Times Thursday 3 January 1946


The War Office announced yesterday that Private Theodore William Schurch, Royal Army Service Corps, having been found Guilty on nine charges of treachery and one of desertion with intent to join the enemy, will be hanged at Pentonville Prison at 9am tomorrow.

Schurch, aged 27, was the London-born son of Swiss parents. The treachery charges alleged that, acting as an agent for the Italians and Germans, he obtained information from British prisoners in North Africa and Italy, and obtained information with which he retuned to Italian lines.

The Times Saturday 5 January 1946


Private Theodore William Schurch, 27, was executed at Pentonville Prison yesterday. He was formerly a member of the British Union of Fascists. Schurch, the London-born son of Swiss parents, was convicted at a general court-martial in London last September on nine charges of treachery and one of desertion with intent to join the enemy.

As with all executed prisoners, Schurch was buried within the prison grounds. As the British Army had not discharged Schurch before his execution, Schurch is commemorated on the Brookwood Memorial.