I read a recent article about War Crimes Trials written by Reuel Vammen in the current Scuttlebutt. (Page 26) With his interest in those particular proceedings, I inquired of his knowledge regarding Deck Court Martials.
Deck Court Martials may not be of interest to the majority, but I'm still intrigued by what may have been a common occurrence during those days so long ago. In a brief reading of the 783 logs yesterday by a Maryland staffer, she mentioned the 783 had two Deck Courts within a two week period. Now I'm curious what else I'll find?
In a very nice letter, Mr Vammen offered the following comments:
"We did have several Captain's Masts, in which the Skipper heard the evidence of an offense, and he gave the accused a chance to give his side of the question. The Captain then, usually on the spot, decided and pronounced his punishment, if any. This procedure would have been recorded in ships records. On my ship, as far as I know, a Division Officer, by himself only, never conducted a "court" that would have been recorded. He of course could reprimand someone verbally.
We also had Summary Court Martials, conducted by several officers who were appointed by the Captain, and as I recall, the Captain was not a direct member of that court. The court heard the evidence, made decisions, and pronounced punishment, if any. The Captain then had the opportunity to revue and possibly approves the proceedings. The court procedures had been recorded by a Yeoman, and this written record would have been sent to the Office of Naval Personnel, Washington, D C."
Perhaps Deck Court Martials were called Summary Court Martials on Mr Vammen's ship. Thank you Mr Vammen.