[There is a report of] a rather extraordinary court-martial in France. In the dock was a Captain Herail, who had killed his wife in a “moment of madness,” but the circumstances were rather unusual, as the wife, jealous of her husband’s military career, had refused to leave him to allow him to obey the “paramount claims of military service,” and this had driven him in frustration, as he perceived her to be “not only ruining his career as an officer, but impairing his efficiency as a French soldier,” after all his nights were spent in arguing, to shoot her.
Apart from the Government commissary to called for a guilty plea, it was clear where the court’s sympathy lay. One witness, Captain Roucamont, described Captain Herail as having “immolated his loved wife on the altar of his country,” while Herail’s defence pleader, Henri Robert, argued that “at a moment when France needs all her children you cannot refuse him your pity. Only his honour remains to him; leave him that. As for his life, his only wish is to sacrifice it for his county.”
It only took a few minutes for the members of the court-martial to come to a decision, and incredibly found him not guilty of voluntary homicide or inflicting wounds or blows that caused death. As a result Captain Herail “left the court a soldier, an officer, and a free man.” After the acquittal of Madame Caillaux the previous year (see July 29 1914) one begins to wonder just what you have to do in the way of shooting people dead to be found guilty.