Liveblogging World War II: November 19, 1940
BATTLE OF BRITAIN: Laws of War: Home Guardsman Harry Foulds was haled before the magistrates of Chatham, Kent, charged with theft from the Crown of a pistol, ammunition and a helmet which he had taken from a bailed-out German airman. Defense Counsel Gerald Thesinger based his case on Rex v. Broom, in the reign of William III, which was based in turn on a case tried during the reign of Henry VIII. These cases upheld the right of any British subject to retain any property he may be able to seize from "the King's enemy." "Therefore," argued Thesinger, "the property was never vested in the Crown."
Clerk of court: "Under your argument, Home Guards capturing tanks would be able to keep them?"
Thesinger: "Yes, subject to a military law which may apply to the capture of fortresses."
The magistrates upheld the 260-year-old decision of Rex v. Broom and freed Foulds, who was carried from the court by cheering crowds.