Court Martial

Jo and Rhys Williams competing in a nighttime navigational competition in East Hampshire

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Fernando Buschman, a Frenchman of Brazilian descent, played his violin through the night into this day in 1915.

When the guard came for him at a few minutes before 7am, he kissed his beloved violin saying: ‘Goodbye, I shall not need you any more.’

Having arrived in London on April 14 claiming to be a commercial traveller in the food business, Buschman settled into the Piccadilly Hotel.

On April 23 he caught the 9am train from Waterloo claiming to a friend that he was visiting food merchants on the south coast.

When he returned he said he had been to Portsmouth and while there he had incriminated himself as a naval spy by taking notes of his observations.

Very early on the morning of June 5, 1915, Buschman was arrested at his lodgings by Inspector George Riley of Scotland yard. When he was questioned, Buschman said he had indeed been asked to find out information for the German secret service, but had refused.

Fernando Buschman’s court martial took place on September 29 and 30, 1915 at Middlesex Guildhall.

He pleaded not guilty and defended himself, but was sentenced to death by shooting.

He refused a blindfold – from John Sadden’s The Portsmouth Book of Days.