The Morning Post (Camden, NJ)/January 20, 1917
LONDON, Jan. 20. (By Mail)—Disappearance from the army under a cloud, 21 years a “mystery man” In South America and now ancient British court records are skeins revealed today in the story of the man who came back.
Friends of Sergeant Major Greener, Royal Engineers, have just learned the whole truth in connection with Greener’s sudden leave from his battalion headquarters at Aldershot In 1895.
The irresistible lure of the great war which called the deserter from a remote part of Chile caused him to appear before a court martial, again at Aldershot, just 21 years and three days after he was officially reported missing on the barracks room bulletin board. Desertion usually means death, but this court-martial had only the heart to reduce its victim to the rank of private.
It was back in the days when the Duke of Connaught was commander-in-chief of the Engineers. Greener had charge of a little yard and shed—the balloon works—a particular portion of the Aldershot camp which Is now credited with being the germ of the Royal Flying Corps.
Court records, yellow with over two decades, of life, show that someone was guilty of selling certain army supplies.It meant that Greener dropped of the army world and until he “gave up” in Manchester a few weeks ago nobody knew whether he was alive or dead. Many army rumors, as the years dragged on, credit him with fighting with the Boers at Magerfortein, located him in China, India, Canada, the United States and elsewhere. Greener’s own story shows that he was nowhere during all the years but living down the past as a mining prospector in the mountains about Iquique, Chile. It was in this isolated rendezvous that the tales of European battlefields reached the deserter and the call of the army was overpowering. It drew him back to England to face what might mean immediate death.
Virile and erect at forty when he fled from Aldershot, Greener is in the sixties to-day, but still erect and soldierly. His temples are withered and there are lines in his face. He wears the simple uniform of the sappers and is soon destined tor his further “comeback” in Northern France.